Power Teaching stems from the whole-brain teaching philosophy, whereby a teacher engages students in an introduction to class rules on a daily basis, all the while reinforcing important content with the teach-ok, hands and eyes, mirror, and switch tenants of Power Teaching. Amanda Bess, first grade teacher at Washington West Elementary in Olean, NY, opens each day by having a student lead the class in their five major rules:
1. Follow directions quickly
2. Raise your hand for permission to speak
3. Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat
4. Make Smart Choices!
5. Keep your dear teacher happy
Karen Woodring, also a first grade teacher at Washington West has the students engage in other stages of Power Teaching. When teaching something, say the definition of a noun, Mrs. Woodring would explain a small piece of information and have the students recite it back, teaching one another. “A noun is a person place or thing. Teach – OK!” The students would then repeat “Teach-OK!” and repeat Mrs. Woodring’s statement, thus teaching each other the same information she delivered through repetition. If gestures are used, the students would mirror their teacher. Lastly, to regain student attention, the teacher could say hands and eyes, or “class,” followed by the recitation of the word “yes” by the group. Research holds that short-term memory is limited to three to seven items, and as we add more information, already acquired information is dropped. In Power Teaching, instruction is taught in shorter chunks (30 seconds to one minute). The teacher presents fewer points in shorter periods of time to help students retain the important content being taught.
Years of educational research tells us that the most effective learning takes place when a student engages the brains visual, auditory, language production, and motor cortices – all at the same time. The Teach-OK experience not only activates these cortices but also involves the limbic systems of the students, helping them to enjoy the experience all the more. The research holds that Power Teaching has the capacity to attach a positive emotional experience, involving all four learning modes of the brain at once, and anchoring the information they acquire in their brain.
Regardless of what the research holds, both Bess and Woodring have seen the level of student engagement increase to new heights with the addition of Power Teaching philosophies. Students are eager to learn, and eager to share that learning with their peers. Whole brain teaching and learning is a way to foster student engagement, all the while building the capacity to learn and grow in one’s educational experience.
For additional information regarding whole-brain teaching and learning, please contact Lauren Stuff at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wholebrainteaching.com.