Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer Lovin' of Excellence

There are many reasons why I love summer…I get to sleep in later than normal,  I am able to spend more quality time with my children, and I don’t have to stress about schedules, outfits, or homework.  Usually around this time, near the end of July, is when I start gearing up for “back to school” mode.  I won’t lie – some years the end of summer has been a hard pill to swallow.  (The years after each of my babies were born were definitely the toughest!) 

This summer has been a little different for me because my school mode has never turned off.  I have literally spent every day either attending conferences, working on my WBT internship, brainstorming like crazy with my two teaching besties, or enlarging my circle of teacher friends through social media. (By the way, I am blown away by all the amazing things social media has to offer – I am now completely addicted to Periscope, as well as Google Hangouts…what an amazing way to connect with teachers all over the country!)

This non-stop action may sound crazy to you, but this has truly been the best summer ever!  I have never been more excited for a school year to start!  I feel more energized about teaching than I have in a long time.  I can’t wait to try out all the new strategies that I have learned with my upcoming class that I will welcome in 4 weeks.  (My only wish is that I could have all my previous students join in the fun too!) 

One of my favorite quotes is, “There are no shortcuts to excellence.”  I have taken this quote to heart this summer as I continue to learn and grow in my teaching career.  I want to be excellent at being ME.  I want to be the best that I can be, in my own little classroom in Edmond, OK.  My excellence won’t look the same as the next teacher’s excellence, and that’s ok.  Are there going to be days that I feel my best is not good enough in the eyes of others?  Absolutely…for me, that’s every single day of my life.  My goal is to do what I can do to feel proud of myself when I walk into my classroom each day.  I am so grateful for not only my teaching besties (huge shout-out to Melissa and Kristen!), but also to all the new teachers that I have had the opportunity to connect with this summer.  They are all such amazing educators and I look to them for inspiration as I strive towards “my version” of excellence. 

P.S. Don’t worry – I’ve still been able to sleep in (thanks to staying up til 2 am working on school stuff), take my children to all our favorite summer spots (I won’t recommend ice skating though), and we’ve definitely NOT followed any type of schedule AT ALL!!! (And that has truly been excellent!)

Thursday, July 9, 2015


What exactly is Whole Brain Teaching?  No matter if you are already familiar with WBT, or if this is the first time you have heard about it, it’s always nice to know about the scientific details….s’more fun facts will be included too!

Whole Brain Teaching is a teaching system that takes a regular “lecture style” classroom lesson and kicks it up to the highest level of interaction, where students’ brains are fully-engaged in the learning process.  Here are two different lesson types:

In a Regular classroom lesson (aka boring), only two parts of the brain are stimulated:
1.              Wernicke’s Area (Listening)
2.             Hippocampus (Memory Formation). 

In a WBT lesson (aka party!), the entire brain is activated:
1.              Pre-Frontal Cortex (Focusing)
2.             Broca’s Area (Speaking)
3.             Wernicke’s Area (Listening)
4.             Visual Cortex (Seeing Gestures)
5.             Motor Cortex (Making Gestures)
6.             Limbic System (Emotions)
7.             Hippocampus (Memory Formation)
8.             Amygdala (Motivation)

Wow!  That’s a BIG difference!  I mean, just imagine that you’re at the “S’mores-Gabord Galore Cook-off”, and Chef #1 yells, “S’mores are ready!”  Your mouth is watering; you can’t wait to take a big, gooey bite… but then the chef only gives you a graham cracker with a piece of chocolate.  Ummm….this isn’t quite what you were hoping for.  Where’s the marshmallow?  Why isn’t it even warm?  This s’more is sooo boring!  Hey!  It’s actually not fair!  You start to pout, cry, and then get angry.  You even start pushing the girl next to you in line!

Hearing cheers and laughter, you look over to see a big group at Chef #2’s bonfire station, so you decide to see what all the fuss is about.  Ohhh my, it’s not a fuss.  It’s a revolution!  These s’mores are perfectly cooked, with ooey-gooey marshmallows, melted milk chocolate…and…what?!  There’s more?!  Here, the chef is adding on extras - white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter, sliced strawberries or bananas, Andes mints, Nutella,  cinnamon, dulce de leche, salted caramel, even bacon!  This s’more is truly going to be a PARTY in your mouth!!!  Now, this is what you were craving!  Yes!  You feel happy!  You smile, laugh, and then start to dance.  You even give the guy next to you a high-five!

Now – which S’more would you rather have for dessert? 

Which classroom lesson would you rather teach? 

With Whole Brain Teaching, you will be able to create a classroom environment where 100% of your students are actively engaged, highly critical thinking skills will be integrated throughout the curriculum, and disruptive behavior will disappear, all because students are having fun while learning!

Until my next post, go check out these great sites!

P.S. Eating S’mores while WBT’ing at the same time, is, by far, the best thing ever!!!

Friday, July 3, 2015


Picture this:  Over 1,000 women (and a few men) hooting and hollering.  Scores of wild pictures being taken and posted on social media sites.  Long lines of fans waiting in anticipation for autographs.  Was this the premier for Magic Mike XXL?!   No, my friends, this was the scene last week in Pineville, Louisiana at the National Whole Brain Teaching Convention! And the #1 celebrity of this show was none other than Chris Biffle, aka Coach B, aka the creator of Whole Brain Teaching, aka Teaching Legend, aka educational GURU!!!

Celebrities are a breed of people that captivate their audience, ooze charisma, and make you feel like all the troubles of the world have melted away and you are in Heaven.  (Especially when you get the opportunity to meet one.)  Yep.  You heard that right. I met my #1 celebrity last week!  Let me set the stage: Me, standing in a hotel lobby.  I look over into a meeting room and see him. HIM!!!  The hairs on my arms stood up and I knew that I had to make a great first impression.  (I had been dreaming about this moment for 3 years!)  I walked.  Slowly.  Towards him.  I could see that there were other people in the room.  For whatever reason, they were sitting in chairs, all in a circle, with notebooks and laptops.  I kept walking straight into the room, through the circle of people, and right up to my celebrity.  My heart was beating so fast, I thought I was going to faint.  My celebrity, wearing his signature ballcap, stood up to greet me and I introduced myself.  (Y’all, I remembered my name in this moment, and that was a great thing!)  We shook hands.  (I’m never washing my hand again!)  I vaguely noticed the other people in the room had stopped talking.  (Maybe they thought I was a celebrity too?!)  Our conversation only lasted a few minutes, but the analyzing of those few minutes lasted hours.  For real.  Probably 2 hours. More like 4.  (My amazing friend, Melissa, can feel free to comment on this, as she was a witness to all the highs and lows of what can only be described as “Robyn.”) There may or may not have been a slight panic attack involved as part of the analyzing.  The panic attack might have had a little something to do with the fact that immediately after I said goodbye to my celebrity, I realized that I had just CRASHED a meeting that he was conducting in private.  Oops.  (Hey – at least I made an impression, right?!)

Wow!  After 3 years of admiring via Youtube videos and webinars, I finally met Coach B, the man who has extraordinarily improved the way I teach!  Not only did I get to meet him, but I was able to see him in action, from my front row seat, over the course of 3 days at the National Whole Brain Teaching Conference in Louisiana!  This guy owns the triple threat of teaching.  As a highly-engaging educator, he has all the right moves.  (WBT hand gestures, that is!)  During his presentations, he has just the right mixture of seriousness and humor.  (I mean, who else can talk about the profound effects on the brain WBT has in children, while also referring to the ridiculousness of this season’s Bachelorette?!) And when it comes to singing…well, I was a witness to his performance of a “Yo-ho-ho” pirate song.  (It was YouTube worthy!)  Coach B is, by far, my favorite celebrity.  (Sorry to break it to you, Magic Mike!)

Can Coach B captivate an audience?  If having over a thousand women (and a few men) hoot and holler for you isn’t proof for being captivating, I don’t know what is!   Does he ooze charisma?  Only wildly charismatic people are asked for hundreds of photos and autographs!  What about that invitation to Heaven? Without a doubt, Coach B knows the secret to TEACHER HEAVEN, where all your teaching troubles really will melt away.  I have experienced Teacher Heaven, first-hand, over the past 3 years, and I can’t wait to share the secret with you in upcoming posts that will highlight the remarkable world of Whole Brain Teaching! 

P.S.  I’m pretty sure I made a lasting first impression on Coach B – he said, “Good for you!” when I apologized later for crashing his meeting. (Even if I’m only remembered as that infatuated teacher from Oklahoma!)