How Teachers Use Brain-based Learning to Motivate Students

The brain is responsible for processing information. When students take in the information during lessons, the brain stores it for future reference. Considering the massive amount of information that students take in daily, there is no doubt that the brain is critical in learning. Teachers can help students by tailoring lessons around natural brain functions for maximum benefits. There are several brain-based teaching strategies that teachers can use to make learning easier for students. 

Use colour for visual stimulation

The brain is highly responsive to art, images and colour. Visual stimulation is critical in learning because it helps the brain process information faster. Students also memorize the information they receive much faster if the brain responds positively. For example, a music teacher can request students to create art to communicate how a particular music genre makes them feel. 

Whenever educators in Singapore undergo professional development of teachers, they are often asked to give students the freedom to find ways to boost their memory. For instance, students can use coloured diagrams to help their brains to make lasting connections. 

Organize learning based on the brain’s cycle

Do you have peak times when your brain is at its best and times when you can barely process any information? We all have periods when we are most productive and moments when we can barely get anything done. This is because the brain operates in cycles. 

These cycles influence when the brain is most likely to process information as students learn. The first 15 minutes of learning are the most productive for students. So, instead of going on and on for an hour non-stop, teachers should instead follow the brain cycle when planning their lessons. 

For example, instead of creating long learning videos, teachers can choose to limit the videos to be 15 minutes long or less. Teachers can also include frequent breaks between lessons to accommodate the brain cycle in the learning process. 

Involve the students in active learning

Another brain-based learning strategy that teachers use is by encouraging students to be more involved during lessons. Active learning stimulates the brain. Students, for example, can take on role-playing as part of learning. This will help cement learning and positively keep the brain engaged. 

Play relaxing music during activities

Music helps the brain to relax and take in more information. Teachers can choose to use music in brain-based teaching to help the students relax and even enjoy the activities in which they are involved. Playing classical music as students read or during a quiz, will help the students think and even remember the lesson because of the soothing music. 

Repeat whenever necessary or to emphasize

When the brain is attempting to memorize, repeating a statement will help it store the information for a longer time. Teachers can make the statements they repeat more fun, so the students can find themselves repeating it because it now sounds familiar. For example, the teacher can create a fun sing-along song to accompany the most critical component of the lesson. 

Singapore carries out periodic professional development of teachers, and brain-based teaching is a critical component of the training. Since students have different levels of understanding, teachers must use multiple teaching methods to increase the likelihood of students understanding the lesson. 

How Singapore Invests in the Teaching Profession

Singapore is revered internationally for its education system, particularly, its achievement in math, literacy and science. Educators from various countries visit Singapore to find out what they do to make their students high achievers.

No country can develop without a robust education system that shapes students to become successful individuals in society. Singapore didn’t just set up policies to guide the education sector, but it also continues to invest in professional development training for teachers

Recruitment of top performers

Singapore’s Ministry of Education considers education as important as any other sector of the economy. So, during the recruitment process, the Ministry picks potential teachers from the top 30% of the graduating class. This is one of the differences between Singapore and many other countries. 

Some countries look at the teaching profession as a fall back career if one doesn’t perform as well as expected. Singapore, on the other hand, has placed great value in teaching that students who graduate top of the class choose a career in education. 

The fact that students want to go into education to train the next generation is not something that happened overnight. This follows deliberate policy decisions that were geared towards building a high-quality workforce for the education sector. 

Central comprehensive centre

In a bid to ensure all teachers receive the same level of training, the Singapore government decided that all potential teachers, whether they are taking a diploma or degree course, should get their training at the National Institute of Education located at the Nanyang Technological University. 

This Institute, in turn, associates with the various schools in the country. It keeps track of the teachers’ performance to help identify exceptional teachers, who are then asked to help train upcoming teachers for a few years. This encourages sustainability, rather than dependence on a few teachers, when there is more untapped talent out there. 

Attractive pay structure

Poorly paid teachers are usually not motivated enough to produce great results. This is why Singapore occasionally reviews the starting salaries for beginner teachers. Besides ensuring the qualified teachers start at the right footing, this also encourages more students to choose a career in education. 

Teachers also receive a pay rise as often as possible. However, since some professionals see their salary rise much faster than the teachers, Singapore has devised programs through which teachers can enrol for additional skills, which ultimately will help them rise to a better pay grade. These programmes include; 

a) Professional Development

All educators in Singapore are entitled to at least 100 hours annual for the professional development of teachers. The teachers have the option of undertaking additional courses at the National Institute of Education to earn a higher degree. 

Alternatively, the teachers can enrol in a school-based programme where school staff developers identify some of the challenges the teachers face and try to provide a solution. For example, suppose the students are not performing well in math, the developers can introduce alternative methods of teaching, such as brain-based teaching, to make it easier for teachers to share knowledge with the students. 

The schools also receive government funding which caters for the teachers’ travel needs when they go to other countries to assess various aspects of the education systems, and policies they can adopt to make education more competitive and rewarding. 

b) Career Development

Singapore does not take chances with talent development. It keeps a close eye on teachers and finds ways to enhance their talent, even after they have been teaching for years. For example, after three years of active teaching, teachers are assessed annually for easy identification when opportunities, such as those of master teachers, research specialists, and school leader arise. 

Teachers who are identified for career advancement are then moved to teams in middle management in preparation for their new roles. These training opportunities prepare the teachers for leadership positions, such as those of the school principal and assistant principals. 

Highly qualified teachers who are exemplary in their work see the fruits of the labour in successful students. This is the best measure of a teacher’s performance. Singapore discourages rigidity and instead encourages the teaches to focus on innovation. This allows teachers to have a mindset that if one teaching method does not work, it is okay to try another, and this has been beneficial to students.  

Tips for Teachers Preparing Brain-based Lesson Plans

When it comes to education, Singapore treats it with the same seriousness it does talent and innovation. After its independence, Singapore didn’t have plenty of natural resources, so it invested in its workforce. This investment doesn’t just take into account people in various fields, but it also focuses on students. 

Today, Singapore is one of Asia’s greatest success stories because the decision to focus on the workforce and education had made this small country achieve world-beating success in math, science, and literacy. This success has been largely due to favourable education policies, including brain-based teaching, and the hiring of high-quality teachers who undergo annual training in professional development for teachers. 

Learn more about professional development for teachers here:

Make brain-based learning practical as well as theoretical

When coming up with lesson plans, teachers need to remember that brain-based teaching does not end with the theoretical lessons in class. Instead, teachers need to make sure that students use the brain-based approaches taught in class in practice. 

For example, instead of creating hypothetical scenarios when giving school assignments, teachers should structure assignments to mirror the challenges students face in their lives. If they can place themselves in any given scenario, students will have an easier time remembering the concepts taught in class. 

Use lessons to help students boost their critical thinking skills

The only way for brain-based teaching to work is if teachers encourage students to think critically about all the challenges that they face. Teachers should encourage students to build on their critical thinking skills by introducing activities and lessons that will encourage students to learn how to solve problems.

Critical thinking skills are not only handy when solving academic problems, but can be quite helpful when dealing with other issues in life. Students are likely to remember their lessons if they participated in the process of finding solutions to the problems presented to them. 

Consider the social aspect of brain-based teaching

Although professional development for teachers often focuses on academic aspects, it is important to remember that students are also social beings. Teachers need to consider the social-emotional development of their students as they structure their lessons. 

Students spend a considerable amount of time in school, and teachers need to endeavour to help students develop all the life skills they need in school and beyond. For instance, teachers can use team-building exercises to assess and encourage student interactions. 

Avoid lesson plans that make students anxious

Lesson structures matter a lot because they often influence student reactions to any particular subject matter. Do you wonder why some students are anxious about one subject but quite responsive to another? Often, it is not how difficult the subject is, but more to do with how the teacher communicates. For students to maintain a positive response towards a lesson, teachers should avoid creating situations that will leave students feeling anxious or helpless.

Develop different teaching strategies

Before developing lesson plans, teachers need to remember that the students are not the same. While others will easily understand complex topics, others will have a difficult time processing simple concepts.

So, instead of coming up with a single lesson plan, the teacher should devise simpler ways to communicate, especially for those who need help understanding the lesson. Using different strategies means more students are likely to understand and even pass their exams. 

Teachers understand the needs of their students best. Therefore, if given the freedom to structure their lesson plans to cater to the needs of every student, performance will improve. Class productivity will also improve as the students will look forward to going to class, knowing that the teacher will use brain-based teaching.