This book is an absolute must-read for educators.
Educator fatigue and burnout are at an all-time high. Students are carrying their mental and emotional exhaustion into the classroom.
Intentional Neuroplasticity explores the plasticity of the brain and nervous system, while learning how adversity and trauma impact a student's developing nervous system to affect behaviors--which ultimately changes the way educators approach discipline and engagement.
Neuroplasticity is more than the latest and greatest buzzword-when educational practitioners are informed and encouraged to share this dynamic, miraculous superpower of human potentiality, both teachers and children understand why they feel the way they do, and how feelings and thoughts impact their mood, motivation, and engagement. When we empower and relieve our nervous systems with the language of science and deepened understanding of why we sense, feel, and behave the ways we do, we are preparing for a lifetime of possibility through the knowledge of brain and body architecture and plasticity.
With the growing body of research in relational and affective neuroscience, our schools can benefit and serve the whole student as we prioritize the nervous system by addressing the embodied experiences, generational and historical trauma, and the stories they hold.
Lori Desautels is a teacher, not a neuroscientist-she knows that the translations and applications from the affective, developmental, social, and relational neuroscience research are critical to educational practitioners now more than ever. No one could have been prepared for the emotional and social losses, challenging behaviors, and dysregulation that are impacting the well-being of our students during the past few years-our collective nervous systems feel the tension and unrest. Intentional Neuroplasticity: Moving Our Nervous Systems and Educational System Toward Post-Traumatic Growth can provide educators cutting-edge information, practices, tools, and exercises to regulate and empower themselves and their students for resiliency and success
KIRKUS REVIEWS writes: "A manual for empathic and trauma-informed teaching. In her latest book, Desautels, an assistant professor in Indiana-based Butler University's College of Education, builds on her work in Connections Over Compliance (2020) to offer a framework to create an effective learning environment for students while also optimizing teachers' mental health. Drawing on applied educational neuroscience and polyvagal theory (which foregrounds the role of the vagus nerve on emotions and reactions to trauma), Desautels explains how to approach and maintain emotional regulation, help students achieve stability, and create a supportive environment that allows space for learning.
The book encourages teachers to coregulate with students, modeling such behaviors as deep breathing, taking breaks, and mindfulness, while also understanding that the methods they find most useful may not be the ones their students prefer. Desautels addresses the specific problems that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the learning experience but reminds readers that there's always been a need for welcoming approaches to teaching.
The book includes several 'Guest Reflections' by other teachers, which offer additional perspectives on trauma-informed teaching and provide concrete examples of implementing this book's highlighted techniques. Desautels acknowledges that her methods may require a fundamental shift in classroom management, but she persuasively presents the work as worthwhile.