Former principal’s book helps teachers turbocharge learning
ALL learning is brain-based but not all leadership and teaching is brain-wise.
That’s according to former North Rockhampton State High School principal Judi Newman, who believes a deep understanding of the brain gives teachers the power to turbocharge learning.
Last year, Ms Newman published her first book titled Turbocharge Your Learning: A Neuroscience and Psychological Perspective.
Aimed at teachers and students, the book offers tips on “how to ace exams or nail that presentation”.
“This is a book for students and teachers to work through together, to build self-efficacy in learning,” Ms Newman says.
“It is about the basics of breaking down the language of neuroscience.”
She said the book had three aims.
“The first is to build the self-efficacy of students, because quite often students are capable of learning, but their self-belief is low in their ability to do so.
“The second is to give the language to teachers around teaching how we learn and think.
“The third is to support our principals with information to help them to build high-performing learning cultures and set policy to support turbocharged learning. This is about leaders creating settings for smart teachers so they can create settings for smart kids. Our kids deserve it.”
Ms Newman said she was inspired to write the book because of her past experience as a principal.
“When I was principal, I saw a lot of students with incredible potential, but they were struggling in reaching it,” she said.
“It’s important kids know they can learn, and they can be high achievers. It’s just showing them how, and the neuroscience is the why.”
She said all children could become bright sparks, if they had the right sparks.
“The right sparks are the ones which bolster their neural learning pathways, causing learning,” she said.
“It’s only recently we’ve realised your IQ is not set at birth. Sure, there is a genetic component, however our brain changes form with the experience we have. We can exercise our brain to become more intelligent. When we first start to learn a new topic, task or skill, we don’t know what we don’t know.
“We have a go and pretty soon we find out what is challenging to understand or master and that’s the point where some kids (and adults) often give up. At this point there are very little neuron pathways established. We feel we don’t get it but don’t despair, we just don’t know it yet.
“If kids can strive to get beyond the bottom of the learning dip, they can start to make those neural connections. This takes effortful learning and stickability.
“Kids can be helped to realise and believe they have the power for their own self-improvement, or self-efficacy. As parents, we can help foster a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. This means a child will try harder if they believe they can get there.”
Ms Newman said she enjoyed the writing process, as the book was a culmination of her thoughts over many years.
“It was easy for me to write because I had been living and breathing learning and leadership for 30 years,” she said.
“The content didn’t come after a few weeks of research, it was a culmination of all my thoughts over many years working with schools, students and teachers.”
Ms Newman, who lives in Emu Park, is principal consultant at The Place Neuroleadership Academy, and a PhD candidate in neuroleadership with Professor Ken Purnell at CQUniversity.
She recently released her second book, Coach the Human not the Content, and her third is expected to be published later this year.
Her message to aspiring authors is to write what you’re passionate about.
“If you feel you are not a writer, just start writing because the thinking is not the motivator, it’s the doing,” she said.
“Once you start writing it will just flow into somewhere if you are writing about something you are good at and love.”
Turbocharge Your Learning: A Neuroscience and Psychological Perspective and Coach the Human not the Content cost $25 and can be purchased at the CQUniversity Bookshop.
Ms Newman will hold a workshop, titled The Neuroleadership of Neurolearning, at the Hilton Hotel, Brisbane on March 17.
This workshop is an opportunity for teachers and principals to learn about the brain and how they can lead learning to improve student thinking.
Tickets cost $40. For more information, call Ms Newman on 0428 825 965 or email JudiNewmanTPNLA@icloud.com.