The Struggling Brain
Post by FBA HS Principal Leigh Anne Bates.
It was my pleasure along with two colleagues to attend a conference last November. This conference was called Teaching Struggling Brains and it is a conference that has been held for many years to give professional development to school officials on the most recent brain research. This year’s focus was on how we can help our distressed student brains to better handle change and stress post-pandemic. It is our desire to put out this short article to share with you as parents some recent brain research as well as provide potential resources to help you in this ever-changing world.
We learned at this conference that stress is actually not a bad thing. When there is too much or too little stress is when it can become a detriment to our students. Therefore, it is our job to help our students navigate stress. When there is a change in a student’s life there will be stress that comes with it. The goal is to help our students move from stress to resilience. Part of our goal at FBA is to train our students to be resilient by understanding God's strength in their life and understanding their identity in Christ. Resiliency is not a character trait but a skill that can be taught. Please check out From Stressed to Resilient by Dr. Deborah Gilboa for more information on this subject.
We were also blessed to listen to a session by Dr. Thomas Kersting entitled “Protecting Our Kids’ Brains From Devices”. We know that our students are inundated with smartphone information. From apps to texting to social media our students are living in a time where they feel the pressure of constantly living in front of a screen. Studies have shown that “acquired ADHD” started to occur in our society in 2008. This means that at the time smartphones were entering our student’s world is when ADHD became an acquired disability and not just one that you genetically have. This means our brains can be rewired based on the activity we are engaging in. Dr. Kersting recommends phones should not enter a student’s world until the high school years. Students brains are not ready for these devices until that time at the earliest. He also urges families to bring back the family dinner table. Studies have shown that your student’s ability to emotionally connect with people is a much higher indicator of future success than intellectual intelligence. As Christians, we would agree that the Lord made us for relationships. That only happens through authentic face to face interaction. For more information on this subject check out the book Disconnected: How to Protect Your Kids from the Harmful Effects of Device Dependency by Thomas Kersting.
There were many other sessions where we learned how to help our teachers use strategies and skills in their classrooms to help students regain independence, resilience, and engagement to be the best learners that they can be. We will be continuing these conversations and look forward to sending more ideas to you as we encounter them.
Thank you for allowing us to partner with you in the education of your students.
Leigh Anne Bates
High School Principal