Saturday, August 16, 2014

Adventures in Whole Brain Teaching Week 1

I discovered Whole Brain Teaching this summer. It sounded so easy, and I could just imagine how wonderfully my new class would respond. I was also a bit nervous about it since I am NOT very animated, and I personally hate it when I have to share what I've learned with a partner. I've always been the type of person who learns best by myself. I was also the kid who would go ahead and start working on the paper while the teacher gave instructions because I already knew what to do. Yes, I was THAT kid who now drives me nuts! :)

On the first day of school, I was all ready to start WBT. I knew to teach Class-Yes and the WBT rules first. I knew to practice them over and over until the class could do them flawlessly. I also introduced the scoreboard so the children would be even more excited about the process. 

The first Class-Yes was met with a few groans, and, "I've already done this!" So, I tried to make it a little more exciting for them by being animated. I added gestures, funny noises, and little dances to keep the children interested. I had most of the children buying into it, but I felt ridiculous since this was not my personality at all. Still, I was determined to make this work. I had read about the brain research behind WBT, and it made sense to me. 

As the day went on, MOST of the class was doing fine, but I still had a few that didn't respond or complained each time I went through a procedure. I made sure I added points to the scoreboard, keeping to the 3 point rule where there can't be a difference of more than 3 points on each side. We kept practicing, and I introduced Teach-Okay, Mirror, and the 3-peat for following directions. Most of the children seemed to be getting it, and I was being as animated as I possibly could be.

By afternoon Resource, I was physically and mentally drained. I couldn't imagine teaching like this everyday. It felt so unnatural to me and my fairly quiet personality. I also didn't know what I was going to do about the students who still weren't participating.

I still wasn't ready to give up on WBT, but I knew something had to change. I went home to do more research. I went to the WBT website, reread the introductory information, but still couldn't figure out what I did wrong. I decided to watch some videos of it in action. In one of the videos, Chris Biffle (creator of WBT) mentioned timing students during procedures. They could then try to break their own records by doing it faster the next time. I made a note to myself to try that. Then, I watched a video of a 1st Grade teacher doing WBT. Her children were obviously familiar with the procedures already, but I watched what she did. I knew I hated putting on a song and dance show like I had basically done that day, so there had to be a better way. She simply stated the Class-Yes and Teach-Okay without all of the craziness. The class still responded enthusiastically. That's when I decided I was definitely going to try again.

I've always been the type of teacher who is mostly serious, but occasionally makes a goofy remark or jokes around with students. My humor is often subtle, but in 2nd Grade many of them seem to get it once they get to know me. So, I went in the next day, reviewed the WBT that we already knew, and practiced procedures more in depth. I wasn't as animated, but I added a few goofy sounds or actions as I felt comfortable. Most of the class responded, but there were still those few that I couldn't seem to reach. Overall, the day was better.

The next 2 days I felt that I wasn't keeping the attention of a few more students. I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to do, but something had to be wrong. Were my expectations too high? Why didn't it seem to be working as well. They seemed to be bored with it.

After a long week, I am grateful for a restful weekend! I will continue to learn more about WBT, and hopefully things will go a bit more smoothly next week when we have more academics to add to the mix. I truly want this to be fun and helpful for them and manageable for me.

Stay tuned for more Adventures in Whole Brain Teaching Week 2!  I am determined to make this work! :)

Are there any other WBT teachers out there? Share your experiences! I'd love to hear about them!


  1. I know this is an old post but I have used whole brain teaching techniques for three years and just started looking into the actual literature behind WBT. One thing I haven't used is the scoreboard until just last week...although I had been using many parts, I hadn't done the oh yahs or oh nos and they felt very uncomfortable at first but are getting better. I use a variety of attention getters, echoing, and counting techniques in my room. I think I picked most of them up when I was teaching kindergarten.

    Wondering if you kept up with WBT?

    The Weekly Sprinkle

  2. Hi Ashley! Yes, I have continued to implement WBT this year. It became more comfortable for me as the year went on. I haven't fully implemented everything WBT, but I do the rules, class yes, scoreboard, the super improvers wall. I plan to continue to learn more about WBT techniques, and will implement them even more next year. Thanks for your comment, and I hope you continue to use WBT as well. :)