Brainy Teachers Working with Brainy Parents Change the World!!


One of the strongest dyads in the world that I know of are parents and teachers working together to support the learning of a child. I happened to know this from two different perspectives.  The first perspective is one of a teacher of special needs children. 


 By law, the parents and I would develop a yearly learning plan that we both could agree to. It’s called an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  Granted- I would do the testing and have that information available for the parent, but I would also listen carefully to their concerns about their child, his/her behavior and what they wanted to see happen during the school year. We had to have a connection in order to make that happen. 
From those many experiences, I learned how important it was to listen to the parent and their perspective.

I’m also the parent of four children. I had to have a relationship of some kind with my children’s teachers in order to know what they were learning.  One year, one of my boy’s third grade teachers called to tell me that my son wasn’t reading and she wanted to put him in a Title I reading program. I asked what I could do at home. Although I have a reading credential, I wanted to be doing something that would support the school as well as his learning reading. She just kept saying they’d put him in a program. The more I thought about it and watched him, the more I realized that wasn’t what was 
needed. He was doing a lot more TV watching than reading! So…we just changed tactics. 
We decided that all of us, that’s all six of us, would read 100 pages from whatever book we selected, write a story or draw a picture of it (the girls were still little and learning to write) and then we would watch TV. By the end of fifth grade, this same son, read Jurassic Park from cover to cover. Then we went to see the movie!

Working together makes a huge difference. As a teacher, I know more about the child and can be moresupportive of how he or she might learn something best and easiest. As a parent, I know what’s being taught and can help my child learn by doing some activities at home that will support what he/she is
learning. And the child knows there’s support from both home and school for what is being taught. So, Brainy Teachers and Parents, how does any of this really support brain development? Does this kind of work make a difference? Oh, my yes! In the upcoming edition of SEEN read the article on Brainy Parents. It explains Hebbs Law. I will mention it again in case you don’t get to see the other article.

Hebbs Law says, “What fires together, wires together.” What it means is that the neurons in the brain, through the energy of a thought, fire or move information from one neuron to the next. If we keep thinking the same thoughts over and over the same neurons keep firing and a network of neurons is developed. That network often becomes unconscious, and will just keep firing forming a habit that wehave of thinking.

Let’s say a child is told at home that he’s a good reader. He likes stories to either listen to or read. He has a lot of books in his room, you’ll often find him reading late night after you’ve thought you turned 
the light out. He just likes to read. His brain has a habit of reading and enjoying what he is doing.
You share that with the teachers. She reinforces his enjoyment of reading. He gets to read a story to the class now. Then, he goes to the library at school often and she comments on these books, he’s in the top reading group and he does well on all the reading tests. His neurons have fired and wired together around reading.

Now you can imagine another child who doesn’t read, doesn’t have books at home and doesn’t do well on reading tests. He’s probably creating diversions at home and school so he doesn’t have to do this thing he doesn’t like or do well. Those diversions are often activities that get him into trouble which makes the problems even worse and often bigger. Comments follow like “you’re always in trouble,”
“what’s wrong with you,” or “why can’t you be like_____________” you can fill in the blank. Again, what’s fired together becomes wired together. He feels more and more like a failure.

I’m sure you can see how important our, parents and teachers, words and interactions with a child actually are. One can sometimes overcome the negativity of another, but it works so much better when the two most important sets of people in his/her life, parents and teachers, are saying very similar things. That brain then is firing and wiring on all cylinders. And we want those cylinders to be positive ones.

Visit for more information on Brainy Teaching & Brainy Parenting. We’re just about to launch our inaugural set of online coursework to help school leadership, teachers, and parents build integrated relationships for high performance and learning.
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Issue 18.3 | Winter/Spring 2017

Southeast Education Network

Our Mission: to reinvigorate the spirit of American education