In recent years, neuroscience research has increased our understanding of how the brain functions and develops. As a result, there is a great deal of information about methods teachers and parents can employ to optimize learning. Neuroscience has also shed light on the connections between emotions, cognitive demands, and academic success. Stress and feeling emotionally unsafe in a school environment prevent the brain from fully functioning. Some schools have adopted a form of affective education that accounts for a student’s feelings and cognitive thoughts, addressing both the belly brain and the cranial brain (Moore, 2015). Other schools use meditation and yoga to help students feel grounded in a wired world, to offset stress brought on by personal traumas, pressure to succeed, and upheaval in the home or community. Being cognizant of these topics can provide insight into why students struggle and how teachers and administration can work together to mitigate the effects of stress.
As budding educational leaders it is our responsibility to move schools forward. Tuning into research, reading periodicals such as Educational Leadership, interacting with peer educators, and connecting with community leaders foster growth in a leader. School leaders who embrace the role of instructional leader commit to lifelong learning that inspires and guides faculty who in turn seek methods to enhance student learning. In recognizing that operating a school, or even possibly a school division, can produce many moments of tension and stress, it is incumbent upon educational leaders to model methods of relieving stress, to find balance in periods of turmoil, and to encourage faculty, staff, and students to do the same. This enables the leader to function and make decisions using maximum cognitive ability and exemplifies modeling best practices, in this case, the benefits of operating in an optimal mental state.
Moore, L. R. (2015, Fall). The Affect Effect in the 21st Century Classroom.
Independent School Magazine, 75(1), 36-40.