BrainWise Makes a Lasting Impression
Christine Cerbana is a longtime BrainWise instructor and trainer in Fort Collins, a retired Colorado State University faculty member, and Director of Colorado Parenting Matters. She was selling her house, and need to get some kitchen repairs. She had trouble finding someone to make repairs, and finally located a business that sent out Isaac, a service repairman. Christine was thrilled, especially when Isaac said he could make the repairs after he found the necessary parts. He made several calls and found the only sources were in other cities and had to be ordered from two different companies. He placed the orders, and returned to her house when they arrived.
As he was installing them, an ecstatic Christine chatted with him, and told him about her work teaching BrainWise, and about the Wizard Brain and Lizard Brain. Isaac froze, and looked at her. He said “Five years ago, I was homeless, and lived with my wife and two daughters at the Angel House homeless shelter. The staff there taught us BrainWise. Learning about the Wizard Brain and Lizard Brain changed my life. It is only because I learned about it that I am here.” Christine did a double take – she had trained the shelter’s staff to teach BrainWise.
Parents Make Good Choices
Judy C., a bilingual BrainWise instructor and kindergarten teacher, and was helping a Rotary group teach BrainWise to Spanish-speaking parents whose children were learning BrainWise. Heading into week five, the parents had learned Wise Ways #1-#4, including how to manage emotions using the Emotions Elevator and Wizard Brain thinking.
Judy started the class by asking the parents to share how they had used BrainWise during the past week. The Rotarians did not speak Spanish, so Judy translated each parent’s response for them. One after another, the parents’ replied, “Esta semana no pegué mis hijos,” and Judy translated, “This week, I did not hit my children.”
From Dr. Barry:
Here is a success story. I was impressed by how articulate this mildly developmentally disabled young man was and that he still remembered BrainWise two years after he graduated!
“Today, I met with Kyle, a young man who had taken BrainWise as a senior at Rangeview High School in Aurora. He found our number listed in the phone book under Positive Life Choices and left a message requesting a copy of a book that would help him retain his skills. When I met with him, he said that he used the wise ways every day and he needed something to help him remember them.
Kyle is working temporary labor jobs, but wants to get on full time with a landscape crew or some other job where he works with people. He likes to work outdoors, but would like a job where he would work with other people. He said that he uses the skills he learned in BrainWise every day, and that taking other people’s Points of View, being aware of verbal and nonverbal behaviors, and using assertive statements had made a big difference in his
We talked about his constellation of support and I suggested that he contact Emily Griffith Opportunity School (EGOS) to explore the different types of vocational certification program they have. He got cabinetry building certificate in high school, but now realizes that he does not like to be so isolated when he works. When he expressed concern about going to school and working, he was pleased to find out that EGOS has class schedules that fit working adults.
Kyle said that he would like to talk about his experiences with BrainWise and would do so if the presentations fit in with his work schedule. He was a little shy, but a clear thinker and able to express himself well and explain why BrainWise is important.
An email from Sarah B…
To me, the most important thing about BrainWise is that it gives the children a framework and a language for making good choices. When we use the language of BW during our literacy block, we are helping the children make connections and thus we build their comprehension skills.
Perhaps we could give a short description of how and why the program is used at Eagleton. I could talk about how I use it in the classroom and how I feel it benefits reading comprehension, as well as the children’s social/emotional/behavioral health. Perhaps you might talk about the work the Rotarians do with the families in the evenings and how they are supporting and reinforcing the children’s learning. The Rotarians are really helping to build the home-school connection, something which benefits the school community and improves the children’s academic performance. As I mentioned last night, things like the holiday parties and the English classes also help strengthen those kinds of relationships.
I also spoke with Erica about the presentation. Among her many positive feelings about Rotary’s involvement at Eagleton, she mentioned the fact that the diversity in backgrounds/interests/areas of expertise of the Rotarians is so important for our children. Many of our kids have built relationships with the Rotarians through Junior Achievement, holiday parties, the breakfasts, the visit from the past president of Rotary, etc. and she feels like the Rotarians have been incredibly influential. She said that the partnership with Rotary is different from a partnership with a business (like the kinds of partnerships that the DPS Foundation makes possible for many schools) because Rotary is service oriented. Rotarians not only invest money, but also time and energy because it’s part of who they are. Erica estimates that the in-kind value of services, support and resources given by Rotarians to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
From Annie Nichols….
“Thank you so much, Pat and CONGRATULATIONS! What an amazing
accomplishment. It looks like Brainwise has really caught on in the
Neurophsych world as I always knew that it would! I was a Psychology major
at The Colorado College and I had an emphasis in Neuroscience. The
designment had an agreement with the Colorado Springs Coroner’s office
that stated that we could to all of our research on human brains if we (as
students) agreed to take the brains into local schools and give
developmentally appropriate lessons on how we use our brains to the
students. The lower school aged children wanted to know what part of the
brain did what (like the coloring reference in Chapter 19 with the
pre-frontal lobe green). For the older children it was more about drugs
and the brain – showing them brains of people who died of abuse.
I had a little boy in my office today and we were talking about his
behavior. Half way through the conversation he said, “Ms. Nichols, how’s
your elevator doin?” It was priceless.”
Teacher emails school story
Today I had a group of four students from four different classrooms
doing an activity together. One of the students didn’t get the pencil he wanted,
became angry, and started to make some unwise choices… I asked him
where his elevator was. The other students in the group began using the BrainWise
vocabulary to talk about strategies he could try to lower his elevator,
including some demonstrations. There was both peer pressure and peer
support for good choices. The student was able to lower his elevator
without much further involvement from me.
BrainWise saves the day
At lunch today a grateful 2nd grade teacher said that she used everything you went over this morning in the first 15 min. of her class today. The 10 Wise Ways helped her deal with a disruptive, yelling class and an angry child accused of knocking over a girl. She used wizard brain over lizard brain, fact v. opinion, ask ?s, const of support, the red flags, choices, consequences, etc. etc.
What appeared to be a doomed morning turned out to be fantastic because the BrainWise language and concepts addressed the individuals’ and group’s needs!!