Hello everyone! Some of us were lucky enough to attend this year’s ESEA Conference in Indianapolis, IN, where we got to attend amazing sessions on a wide variety of topics. One of the best sessions I attended was “You Can’t Read a Book and Run from a Lion at the Same Time,” by Tara Brown.
Brown taught and coached for over 25 years and worked with diverse student groups across the country. Her teaching experience has made her passionate about supporting students and she believes the best way to do that is by building strong relationships. Her goal is to provide educators with the tools they need to connect with students, so they can help students develop leadership and life skills for the future. Now she is known as The Connection Coach, sharing her vision and tools with educators around the world.
Brown’s session at the ESEA Conference focused on the impact stress has on students, particularly those in Title I schools. Neuroscience shows that high levels of stress raise people’s cortisol levels and prevent them from developing emotionally and cognitively. Students who experience high levels of stress can struggle to regulate their emotions or focus on academics unless they feel safe and calm. It is critical for educators to create a safe environment in their classrooms that promotes learning and enables them to build strong relationships with their students.
One way to create a safe learning environment for students is to increase the vagus nerve tone. The vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system that regulates key bodily functions. Stimulating the vagus nerve has been shown to alleviate digestive problems, reduce inflammation, increase immune function, and improve mood. Brown shared ways to increase the vagus nerve tone to help students calm their bodies and minds, so they can move out of survival mode and focus on academics. Seven strategies she highlighted in the session are:
1. Deep breathing exercises
2. Yoga and meditation
3. Cold exposure
4. Humming and singing
5. Gastrointestinal stimulation
For more information about Brown’s strategies and tools for educators, check out the links under Helpful Resources.