Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Success Story

Have you ever watched a video that completely changed your life?  Eight minutes and forty eight seconds.  That’s all it took for me.  In the spring of 2012, I viewed a YouTube video that entirely altered the way I approached teaching.  The video was of Chris Biffle, who is the director of Whole Brain Teaching.  Whole Brain Teaching is a grassroots, education reform movement that is based on the principle that children learn best when their entire brain is being activated through gestures, motivators, and structured games.      I saw the video at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, and, by 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, I had already started implementing many of the Whole Brain Teaching strategies that I had practiced the night before.  After that first half-week of applying WBT techniques, my class dynamics had taken a 180 degree turn in a positive direction.  I couldn’t believe it…I had discovered the Holy Grail of teaching!

I spent the entire summer of 2012 researching, watching videos, and educating myself all about Whole Brain Teaching.  I participated in weekly online courses and wrote college essay-style posts on the WBT forum.  I counted down the days until August because I was so eager for the new school year to begin.  A fire had been lit inside, and I couldn’t wait to see where all of this new-found energy would lead me in my teaching career. 

At the beginning of School Year 2012-2013, the word was out about my passion for Whole Brain Teaching.  My principal at the time asked me to lead a WBT training for my entire faculty.  In the fall of 2012, I was selected to be a Social Media Intern for WBT, where I created and administered the original 2nd grade Facebook page.  At the beginning of 2013, I was chosen to be a member of the WBT Mentor Program, where I worked on weekly assignments which were provided via email and weekly phone conferences.  By 2015, I was ready to take everything to the next level, and was encouraged by my amazing 2nd grade WBT mentor and Director of Certification, Nancy Stoltenberg, to join the Whole Brain Teaching Internship Program.  After enthusiastically applying for the internship, my quest for WBT certification began!

As part of the requirements for certification, I began submitting videos of my teaching skills and student engagement to my mentor teacher, I attended and assisted at the WBT National Conference in Louisiana, I engaged in an in-depth book study of Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids, writing comprehensive and reflective essays on each of the chapters, and I created a teaching blog and Facebook page where I could share my knowledge of WBT with an audience of educators.  During the summer, I also took a chance to travel to northeast Oklahoma and present a WBT workshop to 30 teachers from several small districts who had actually been introduced to WBT by visiting my classroom earlier in the year.  When School Year 2015-2016 began, my current principal asked me to lead a WBT presentation for our faculty members and become a mentor to my coworkers as they navigated through the steps of implementing WBT strategies in their own classrooms.  In the Fall, I was able to assist fellow Oklahoma WBT instructors at the first conference offered in OKC.  I also had the incredible opportunity to spread the word about WBT to Edmond Public School teachers at a break-out session on our district professional development day this past winter.

To say that Whole Brain Teaching has completely changed my life would be a grand understatement.  I wake up excited to go to school each day.  My students show 100% participation in my lessons.  After a full day of partner-sharing, gesturing and engaging in structured games, we are all exhausted, but it is the BEST type of exhaustion…the kind where you know all your students soaked up the curriculum and so much more.  Parents have raved to me about how their children previously struggled in school, but in my classroom, and with WBT, they are now thriving.  

Through my passion and dedication for Whole Brain Teaching, I have finally turned my dreams into reality.  On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, my outstanding class and I produced an Exemplary Video and I became an official Board Certified Whole Brain Teacher!  To say that I am proud of myself and my students is a huge understatement.  Together, we showed the deepest levels of invincible grit that is deserving of so much honor.  My class of 2015-2016 will forever be my class of certified WBT students!  I can’t wait to present them with their own certificates next week!  Let the celebrations begin!!!


  1. Love this!! I'm so proud and happy for you!!

  2. You are to be commended for all your "grit" and stamina on this very tough Whole Brain Teaching Certification Journey, Robyn! Out of the hundreds of thousands around the world participating in this program, you are only the 17th person to be awarded this certificate! It is a privilege to call you friend and colleague!