For those of you that saw the title of this post and began to panic, there is nothing medically wrong with me or my brain! My brain hurts because I have been learning over the last week!
Have you ever been engaged in learning something new and right in the middle of that process or maybe at the very onset you found the very act of learning made your head hurt? When I was teaching, I used to tell my students it was my job to make their brains hurt. I knew that when they said their brains hurt, their brains had encountered something that made them think differently or challenged them to make connections. Of course some days were better brain learning days than others, but I wanted to keep stretching my students.
Guess what my friends, scientific evidence has uncovered why our brains hurt (see research study here and for a easier read-click here). Now don’t panic, if you read the study and suddenly are feeling the need to quit learning because it may lead to neurological problems, don’t sweat the small stuff! As both articles discussed, it seems this is a normal process for our brains unless there are other problems.
Learning is the act of acquiring new skills or modifing/ reinforcing existing knowledge or behaviors. The very act of being able to engage in learning is really what makes us unique. Although I am tired and my brain needs a serious vacation, I have been stretched!
The most powerful learning experience in the last week did not come from a book or a lecture, it came from simply interacting with a group of talented science teachers. As a participant in the Science Education Faculty Academy (SEFA), which is part of the VISTA (Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement) grant, this academy brought 25 faculty members from across Virginia together. While all of us were different, we shared the same common element-we had a passion and desire to make science education more effective for our preservice teachers.
We discussed, debated, laughed, and just had fun learning from each other. For all of us, the week allowed us the opportunity to take a peek into another teacher’s classroom to see how teaching could be different.
This experience got me thinking. Do we give teachers enough time to reflect and discuss their practice with other teachers? Have you been in a professional learning experience where you were able to do this? What was it like for you?
I hope as the school year winds down you will engage in a learning opportunity that does indeed make your brain hurt! Go Science!