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Understanding the Teaching Brain

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Vanessa Rodriguez

on 6 April 2014

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Transcript of Understanding the Teaching Brain

Vanessa Rodriguez
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Understanding the Teaching Brain
Presentation Goals
Interview Results:

Study Aims
-SELF: teacher needs, authenticity, real/teacher self, values
-TEACHING PROCESS: routines. learning, reflective, unintentional feedback
-LEARNER: present & future needs, specific & holistic learner needs, taking on student perspective
-CONTEXT: physical space, gov't
relationships outside of L-T
interaction, school culture
Cognitive Framework
for exploring
Teaching Brain
Proposed study
Multiple teacher-student dyads
Problem solving task
Teacher supported
Adaptive no "correct" answer
(Self, Learner, Interaction)
Testing the framework
-L-T Research TB research
-Preliminary TB study
-Cognitive framework for understanding teaching
-Next steps for future studies & the teaching brain framework.

Creating a developmental scale of the skill of teaching from birth through adulthood.
-Neuro imaging(fNIRS) to correlate brain activity (2PN)
-Examine brain activity when cognitive framework suggests awareness or synergy (synchrony)
-Neurological synchrony & relation to teaching effectively
-Koizumi, Yun, Watanabe, Hari
Experimental findings continually shape the cognitive framework of the teaching brain.
To identify the cognitive processes and patterns of mind as understood by master teachers throughout their teaching experience.
To explore whether these cognitive processes, as described by teachers, align with principles of DST.
Study Flow
-based on state criteria
-principal, peer, parent, student recommendation
-school authentic assessment
Graduate Professors:
-highly rated by students for
Low support:
-5-10min free write via email
What are you focusing your mind
on throughout your process of teaching?
High support:
-1-2 hour interview via Skype
-Utilizing SiR2T task
Design: Qualitative study of master teachers (n=23)

Methods: interviews and classroom observations (microdevelopmental inspired)

Participants: 3 Early Childhood, 6 Grammar, 4 Middle, 7 High, 3 Graduate
Synthesize interview and observation data to describe potential:
cognitive processes
patterns of thinking
teacher-learner interactions
-The vibe or energy created during a deep human interaction in their teaching
-An experience of flow between students and teachers

Publications on Teaching Brain
Rodriguez, V. (2012). The teaching brain and the end of the empty vessel. Mind, Brain, and Education, 6(4), 177-185. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-228X.2012.01155.x

Rodriguez, V. (2013a). The human nervous system: A framework for teaching and the teaching brain. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(1), 2-12.

Rodriguez, V. (2013b). The potential of systems thinking in teacher reform as theorized for the teaching brain framework. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(2), 77-85. doi:10.1111/mbe.12013

Rodriguez, V., & Solis, S. L. (2013). Teachers' awareness of the learner-teacher interaction: Preliminary communication of a study investigating the teaching brain. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(3)
-Two independent coders with calculated inter-rater reliability
-Grounded theory open-ended coding identifying patterns & themes
Public: democratic,open,
charter, traditional,
School Types
Teaching Brain Model
Private: classical, boarding,
special needs, Waldorf
Learning and Teaching Research
-Human learning grounded in cognition
-Acquire knowledge, reorganize it to make sense of it and store it in their memory.
-Piaget: stages cognitive development,
mental states occur without any outside stimulation
-Vygotsky: cognitive development one’s
cultural context
-ZPD: amount of guidance a learner
need to grow cognitively.
-Dewey, Bruner
-blank slate
-additive process: experts information, learners naïve
-Pavlov: stimulus response
-Watson: conditioned response
-Skinner: operant conditioning (rewards and punishment)
-No free will
-Based on concepts from chaos and emergence theory
-Extended earlier cognitive models to include learning as dynamic system
-Mutual interaction between learner and context
-As such, learning occurs in
complex, nonlinear
-thinking at the core (ToM)
-Complex, iterative, multiple variables
-Student centered-adapt to learner
-Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Dewey
-Design dynamic systems, learning tools to teach, Rapid on-line
-Unique characteristics of teacher affect educational experience
-Teacher’s context: environment,
planning, routines, methods
PCK –content info for student

-Lens of direct observation
-Behavior to aid student in acquiring knowledge/skills
-An interaction between 2 pupils
-Naïve learner; expert teacher
-Knowledge is transferred (e.g. input-output)
-Skinner: stimulus response (pos rewards)
teaching machine using input-output
feedback/rewards guarantee attention
motivation & individual instruction.
-(CAI) adaptive learning systems
-patterns can be modeled into cognitive developmental pathways
-These cognitive pathways have neurological correlates seen in brain imaging studies
-The cognitive pathways and brain studies form the core of the “learning brain”
-framework and brain-based
learning approaches
Though this is commonly
recognized it is not how we train
or evaluate teachers and teaching
-teachers are individuals who are dynamic, variable, context dependent
-characterize the dynamic systems
of teaching
-teaching as an interaction
-skill scale of teaching utilizing
DST principles
-Skill scale designed for education research
-tools and methods for measuring variability & context of student learning
-learning development occurs in a cyclical pattern
stagelike and non-stagelike development in spurts
- DST based cog teaching models likely have neurological correlates
-2PN: observe brain activity during dynamic interaction of teaching
-Battro’s “invent new neurological models to describe & predict unfolding of teaching processes
-Explore how teacher’s mind AND brain develop e.g. the “teaching brain”
-cog models feed brain models and vice versa
-The reciprocity experienced throughout their teaching process, described as a “dance”.
-Change approach, respond to, or affected by the behaviors or feedback (intentional or unintentional) of a student; and in turn, their response caused the student to change or shift their behavior or approach to learning.
A tight relationship or deep connection with students (beyond superficial interchanges involved in academic content).
-Sharing knowledge, work, and responsibility with their students
-Working with students to achieve common goals.

-teachers as systems thinkers
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