I am a grand fan of technology. It opens up possibilities for how we work, how we teach and how we connect with the like-minded, inspiring and divergent thinkers who we wouldn’t run into in the local Starbucks. The down-side is the work intensification. It is literally possible to work 24/7 and still never finish the to do list. Because so many educators give it a valiant try to complete everything on their lists, Health and Wellness became one of themes for the BCPVPA, British Columbia Principals and Vice Principals Association, Friday Forum on February 23, 2018 open to educational leaders in British Columbia.
Gary Anaka was one of the speakers, originally a secondary Science teacher, who has worked tirelessly in presenting brain research about structure, neurogenesis and plasticity in an accessible way. Over many years, he has provided not only made sense of brain research but actively models purposeful ways to engage the brain and considerations for maintaining brain health in his engaging brain coach presentations. This was all underlined and the ideas further developed by Dr. Sabre Cherowski, Dr. Fei Wang and Sr. Stephen Berg. Each speaker added to create an iron-clad rationale as to why educators need to not only teach health and wellness but live it as well.
Best of all, I got up the following Sunday morning, abandoned any thought of trying to catch up on emails or attending to nurturing my spiritual well-being indoors and headed up Blackcomb Mountain to complete the assigned homework of getting out in nature for my mental health, moving to grow brain cells, skiing for my physical health and enjoying life and tending to the relationship with my best friend and husband of many years. All good things. Only the residual guilt for the ignored things to do list remained. The trick becomes, what work and how much work is to be done.
This seems to be going the route of every blog post I write every new year and after every extended holiday. The quest for balance. In this quest, my German / Scottish roots and my all too developed work ethic, most often tips the balance towards work. The real issue is one of priorities. As an administrator, I have no qualms telling staff that their first responsibility is to take care of themselves. It is another things to prioritize my own health and wellness over the ever increasing onslaught of things to be done. It is, well… work.
In these times of work intensification, we need to create space for people (yes us) to take care of themselves in order to do the work that matters most. The beauty of the field of Applied Educational Neuroscience is that it commands a wide scope of attention extending beyond the realm of educators. Our role is to nurture young brains therefore it follows suit that we need to understand the field and put our learning into practice. The rationale for optimizing conditions for brain health and wellness therefore becomes the ultimate priority in doing our work as educators. It adds another item to our list of things to do – helping students, parents, community partners and beyond to understand why.
Gary Anaka has published a number of books through Portal Press that are a good way to support the ideas presented in his lively Brain Coach Workshops.
Your Magical Brain: How It Learns Best
Brain Wellness: The Secrets of Longevity
Teaching with The Brain in Mind by Eric Jensen is an easy to read book with many instructional strategies.
The Brain’s Way Of Healing by Norman Doidge, M.D. is a fascinating book around current research into many things we still don’t really understand abut the brain.