Today I want to take you on the journey I traveled when deciding to introduce Whole Brain Teaching in my classroom. I've shared it briefly in other posts, but after meeting with a few colleagues to share some WBT strategies, I thought it was important that I share my journey for those of you who need a little push towards WBT in your classroom.
During my first year of teaching I had a very tough class. I loved them dearly and still look back fondly on that year and those students, but I spent a lot of the first half of the year questioning my job choice. It killed me to question it too because I had literally wanted to be a teacher since I could remember. I had four students who were identified or would later be identified with ADHD and all were either un-medicated or inconstantly medicated. Now please don't get me wrong... I am not a "medication" pusher. I totally get that there are SO many interventions that can happen instead of medication and I also have seen medication be super successful for some students. But these students doing "gymnastics" on the rug during every single lesson and crawling under the tables daily added to a majority of students below grade level and students with little support from home equated to a really tough situation as a first year teacher. I would lay awake literally every night either worrying about my kiddos or trying to figure out where I was going wrong as a teacher.
My students WERE making growth, but I left every afternoon feeling exhausted and frustrated and on the verge of tears. And let me be clear on one thing, although I am an emotional girl and have been known to need a "good cry"... since starting WBT I think I've left school near tears maybe twice... nearly every day compared to maybe twice. Huge change.
Anyway... there was a big New England snow storm that year right around the 100th day of school. We had probably 5 days off including the weekend. I took this as "research" time. The teacher across the hall used WBT and I thought if it could work for her class of nearly 30 students, well then maybe it could work for me!
I watched video after video. I read article after article, blog post after blog post. I was addicted to the amazing behavioral management I was seeing. I was impressed by the growth teachers shared in their testimonials I took notes, decided what I liked and what I didn't and above all I knew WBT was for me.
I walked into school on the 100th day and printed out all the WBT rule and procedure posters and told my kiddos I'd been waiting until they were "ready" to try out something new in the class. I told them that the 100th day of school was the perfect time for 2nd graders to be "ready." I mustered up as much energy and excitement as I could and I sold WBT to these little 7 and 8 year olds and they ate it up!
In a few days my classroom was completely different. It was calmer... We had more fun during lessons... I was able to get all their energy out in PRODUCTIVE ways... I could get their attention with no effort... I had students focused - completely focused - during lessons. I couldn't believe how well it was working. A week or so later, I introduced mirrors and on our next math post-test I had one of my most severely ADHD students, standing at his desk, making all the gestures he had learned for regrouping to help him on the test. It was at that moment I knew WBT would be in my classroom for a LONG LONG TIME!
The rest is history... 3 years of WBT & a National Conference behind me... I even hope to become a "trainer" once I'm done with Grad School. I've done informal PD sessions for teachers and shared relentlessly with my grad class. I now walk down the halls in my school and HEAR WBT IN ACTION! Grad class friends tell me about the ways they are using WBT every day... Talk about amazing...
That's my story! Any other whole brainers who would like to share their story? I'd love to feature you on my blog :)