When I was 22, I was just out of college, completely blinded by my own inspiration, thinking that I may save the world with my teaching. Although I had always done well in school, graduating magna cum laude, I had always experienced a great deal of stress around learning. I believed that my kind heart could inspire the children to want to do well. I was sadly mistaken.
I went for my first interview in Ashe County, a small, rural school district in the mountains of North Carolina. During the interview I was told that I would be working with the "children no one could do anything with." "Perfect," I thought, feeling up to the challenge. I became determined and excited about the idea that I would be given to opportunity to love, accept and teach the ones that others found too difficult to reach and therefore teach. My enthusiasm won over and I got the job.
Three days into that job I come home sobbing. What I had learned in school didn't work with these kids! Not only did "it" not work, I was exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit! The students would throw themselves on the floor, hit each other constantly, punch holes in the wall of my modular classroom, and the list goes on. I could not see a possibility of doing anything for these students other than keeping them in their special "holding tank" (i.e. self-contained classroom) just outside the regular school walls. I began to consider myself lucky if they kept their hands to themselves for more than a few minutes.
Three weeks later I was required to take a 3-day training called "Brain Gym." Little did I know that the seminar would transform my perspective of learning, of behavior, and of my students. I learned simple, fun movements that could be integrated into my school day. The movements were designed to integrate areas of the brain to improve focus, attention, and (thank goodness) behavior. When I took the movements back to my classroom, I saw immediate changes in my students and myself. The changes I saw inspired me enough to jump on the bandwagon and learn everything I could about movement and the brain. It began a path lined with laughter, joy and success for my students. It was 1994 when I first walked into that classroom. It was also over 200 schools ago -- over 20,000 people that I have taught and/or worked with -- and still continues today.
Inside the brain, toward the back, we have an area known as the cerebellum (The portion of the brain in the back of the head between the cerebrum and the brain stem. It is primarily responsible for the coordination of movement and balance). This area of the brain has 10x20 more neurological connections that any other area of the brain. As we integrate movement into our learning -- learning happens. The learning gets loaded in with the direct assistance from body. It gets what we call "anchored in" and therefore can be easily recalled. There is much more information on the brain and how movement relates to learning in this site.