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Sunday, February 2, 2014

WBT: It's A Bright Idea

I am so excited about this amazing BLOGHOP!  Are you looking for some BRIGHT IDEAS to use in your classroom?  Join us for a WHIRLWIND of Professional Development that will blow your socks off!  

A very sweet friend of mine and I are linking up with each other to talk about Whole Brain Teaching. Be sure to visit her post along the way to get more information!

Me and Valerie from Georgia Gown Kiddos

Welcome to my little classroom on the web!  First let me say "HI" to all the new friends who have hopped on over here from Stephanie's blog:

Wasn't her post amazing!  When I first heard about this amazing blog hop I knew I had to be a part of it!  I knew that there were many teachers out there who were exactly where I was 6 years ago...tired, frazzled, burned out...ready to hang up your teaching hat!  Well, what if I told you that Teacher Heaven was only a stone's throw away and if you really wanted to bring your passion back you could in a heartbeat!  Not only can you have your passion back but you can take your kids to a level of knowledge never dreamed of!  WBT is the KEY component to having some of the highest end of year test scores in Kinder and 1st grade in the past 6 years.  TRUE STORY!  It happened to me!  To get this party started I want to give a bit of background on how I FOUND Whole Brain Teaching (or rather how WBT found me).


It was my first week at a new school and I was confident with my previous 4 years of teaching experience in Pre-K that this particular year was going to be a WALK IN THE PARK!  Boy was I wrong.  NOTHING...and I MEAN NOTHING (as a 6 year Army Veteran) could have prepared me for what I was in for.  I had always prided myself on my classroom management skills, especially with 4 year olds.  I always had the calm and respectful and full of life and fun class.  Well, I don't know what teaching goddess I made mad but by the end of week 3 at my new school I had been threatened with a pair of scissors, had a table turned over and leg torn off by a few boys, cussed at, and my poor teacher assistant had her hair cut not once...BUT TWICE!  These were 4 YEAR OLDS!!  I thought I was in TEACHER HELL! dear friend...I was DESPERATE! internet search began!  I did a Google search for "classroom management for DIFFICULT kindergarten"!  God must have been listening to my cries for help because the first video that popped up was from my MENTOR and Dearest friend Andrea Schindler---our very own Kindergarten specialist with WBT!  Well, lets just say the rest is history!  Six years later not only has my passion for teaching be reawakened, WBT has made me the teacher I am today!  There is NO substitute for this amazing teaching technique and resource!  If you are like I was 6 years ago...I beg you try it...just TRY IT!  Give it ONE MONTH!  If you don't see a change in the atmosphere of your classroom...well...I don't even have to promise you anything BECAUSE YOU JUST WILL!   I am now a Nationally Recognized Whole Brain Leader and Trainer as well as a member of the executive board for Whole Brain Teachers of America.  I am blessed with the opportunity to travel ALL OVER the country and train teachers in WBT!  It is the biggest blessing but more than that...I get to experience TEACHER HEAVEN each and every day with my class!  Let's get on with this BRIGHT IDEA and what the basic principals behind it are!  You can always join me and a few of my best online friends as I lead them through a book study of Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids and The Rest of Your Class Too by Chris Biffle.  

Just a little light reading in 1st grade:  Charlotte's Web

Or perhaps you wanna see some first grade Math Superheros!  1st Grade DIVISON?  WHAAAAT?


Whole Brain Teaching is used by instructors all over the world. The roots of WBT began in a college classroom in California. Chris Biffle, a college philosophy professor, was at his wits end in trying to engage his college students in meaningful discussion and learning. On a hunch, he began to play again with this class. Amazingly  simple game engaged to students in a way that he thought impossible. Along with Chris Rekstad and Jay Vanderfin, two of Chris Biffle's former students, Biffle set forth to design a teaching system with creativity and pizzaz.  Along the way, Andrea Schindler and Angela Macias joined the  crew.   In the summer of 2009, Biffle opened the door for teachers across the country to apply as interns for his crew and offered those who are accepted the opportunity to become  Whole Brain Teaching rock stars. Deb Weigle and myself joined the crew after a year-long internship in our classrooms. For the past five years, Biffle and his crew have been traveling all over the country, and world, spreading the amazing techniques that are Whole Brain Teaching. Along the way, new interns and rock stars have joined us. It without a doubt has been the biggest blessing to my teaching career and the children of my classroom.

At this point you may be asking yourself, "What is Whole Brain Teaching?". Often when I'm asked this question I simply respond with, "WBT is 100% student engagement with higher-order thinking all rolled up into an easy package." Now to some this might be too simplistic. However, as we go through this journey I hope you find that my statement is true. WBT gives you the tools needed to have 100% student engagement and higher order thinking in your classroom. How easy it is to implement these techniques is entirely up to your participation and effort and  perseverance. I will admit that in the beginning it seemed as though my students would never catch on and that I would never get the hang of one of the biggest components of WBT. Micro-lecturing for a first grade teacher, any teacher for that matter, is one of the hardest concepts to wrap your brain around. But in the end, if you stick to it and don't give up, you'll find that your classroom and teaching style have carried you all the way to teacher heaven.

So what exactly is wrong with today's traditional classroom? Many teachers that I talked to either in real life or online tell me that they love teaching but… and this is a big BUT… they are exhausted and tired of dealing with behavior problems. If I told you that in a classroom of 30 first-graders I had been very few behavior issues you would probably think that I was either lying or not actually teaching anything to my students. However, during the 2012-2013 school year I had such a classroom. They were by far the most challenging students I had ever had. They talked, they pushed my buttons, they were just downright ridiculous when it came to behavior. Yet I was completely in TEACHER  HEAVEN!!! I know at this point you must be thinking that I was on drugs. Rest assured no prescriptions had been written and no illegal drugs had been ingested. Because of WBT, none of the behavior issues that my students displayed ever, and I mean ever, interfered with my teaching or student engagement in my classroom. WBT gave me the tools I needed in order to keep all my students engaged and behavior issues under control. How would you like to have that classroom? It is totally possible.

To start Whole Brain Teaching you must first understand the Great Law of Whole Brain Teaching.

        ***** The longer we talk, the more students we lose!

 Think about sitting in a room listening to a lecture. As the presenter talks we try to focus and we try to pay attention but inevitably we drift off to thinking about lesson plans, dinner that night, the grocery list, or all the million other things that we need to do. If this is how we react to a long lecture, how do you think our students who are much more immature and with much less developed brains are going to respond to us lecturing in the classroom? One of the key elements of  WBT is understanding the concept of micro-lecturing. Micro lectures are 30 to 45 seconds of information or material delivered to the student. At the end of each micro lecture students are allowed the opportunity to discuss and engage each other about the information just given to them by the teacher. In doing so the students remain engaged and on topic and don't have the opportunity to drift off into daydream land. We will discuss more of this technique in a later chapter.

As teachers  we are own worst enemies. We make our jobs 10 times harder than they have to be. Chris Biffle mentions in chapters 3 that bad teaching breeds challenging students. Now think about that. I like to call this my Dr. Phil moment. If you have a classroom technique or classroom management style that you just can't let go of ask yourself this one simple question; How's that working for you? When I found WBT I was hung up on a color chart system. You know the one where you have to change their color from red to blue to green. The color chart system that doesn't work. However, due to school wide mandate that we use the system it was on my wall. Now I don't want you to take my next comments to mean that I want you to defy your administration. However, for me in my situation I had to do something and I decided that my goal and responsibility was to my students and giving them the most engaging and inviting learning environment possible. So I ditched the color chart. It hung on my wall but never got used. In fact I never even introduced it to my students. This can be said for all different types of classroom management systems. Over the past few years the most popular system has been the  clip chart. Now please don't leave me a  hateful comments if you are in love with your  clip chart. I just know, from experience, that they are not needed. If you jump in to WBT with both feet you will not need a clip chart, a color chart, or the dreaded treasure box.

Now back to the mistakes we make as teachers. Chris Biffle lists seven ways that we make our challenging students more challenging. Here they are:

1)  We lose our temper with difficult kids and yell at them.

2) Confronting rebellious students when they have an audience of their peers will make them braver and more rebellious.

3) Disorganized teachers breed chaotic classroom.

4) Teachers who don't like teaching have the most challenging students.

5) The less work you do outside of class, the more work your class will be.

6)  If you think your disruptive student should be like you, you'll make them even more disruptive.

7) Here is the great law that governs the universe and most importantly your classroom. GROW or DIE!  If you are afraid to try new teaching techniques you are petrifying yourself to death.

 For the past several decades our educational system has been in a crisis. Teachers across the country and world are all saying the same thing. If only we could get our challenging students under control we might be able to actually teach. We spend millions of dollars each year trying to train teachers how to control challenging students. This seems to be the biggest obstacle to a teachers success in a classroom. Next in line are those students with learning issues that we just can't seem to reach with traditional teaching. I'm here to tell you from experience, from the trenches, from a classroom full of challenging students (behavioral and learning) that WBT is the only thing you need.

So Chris sums it up, if you want to join us in teacher heaven remember these few things:

  • Control your temper.
  • Confront challenging students when they don't have an audience. 
  • Be superbly organized.
  • Fall in love with your profession.
  • Work hard at teaching when you're not in class.
  • Understand that your students are not your clones.
  • Grow or die. 

 Well that about covers Chapters 1-3 of Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids!  Are you excited to join a team of amazing and dedicated educators that are devoted to taking the teaching profession by storm!  We are on a mission to transform classrooms across the WORLD!  All the information shared today is credited to Chris Biffle and his amazing book.  Please pick yours up today as we begin this journey!  Personal opinions shared throughout this post are that of my own and from my own experience with WBT!


Are you as excited as I am about all the amazing BRIGHT IDEAS you are getting on this hop?  Well if you wish, stick around and browse my blog and the other amazing posts on Whole Brain Teaching!  If you are looking for more GREAT BRIGHT IDEAS, please visit the next blog in the blog hop hosted by Rachel Lynette!  She is sharing some Bright Ideas on SECRET STUDENT IDEAS!

Alternatively you may visit the link up below and choose a topic that interests you!  Thanks for visiting!


  1. A colleague and I were just discussing Whole Brain Teaching on Friday, and I just put the book on my Amazon "wish list." I am going to share this with her on Monday. We are both at a place in our careers where we need to refresh, rejuvenate, and find hope.....we need to "grow or die." Thanks so much for planting the seeds of change!

    1. Jennifer,

      You and your colleague need to get going :)! I am glad you found me as well and I hope you can come to the conference in June!

  2. Farrah, I am so happy I have found you. I have learned so much from you about WBT in the past few months and I have hardly scratched the surface:) I am really hoping to attend the conference in June.

    The Resourceful Apple

    1. Tammy I hope you can come as well! It will be the CONFERENCE OF A LIFETIME!

  3. I'm so glad you shared more about WBT for the Hop! I hope you spark your readers' curiosity and they try out some WBT in their classrooms. I have been observed a few times this school year and the observer always comments on the WBT techniques. I wrote about how I use my Super Improver Wall in the blog hop! :)

    EduKate and Inspire

    1. KATE how awesome!!! The more WBT we can spread the closer to Teacher Heaven we will all be! Headed over to read now! :)

  4. I am so thankful to have found you and become such buddies. I know that WBT has not only changed my management and teaching style, but it has made me a better teacher-a reflective teacher. Thank you!! I'm happy we collaborated on our Bright Ideas!


    1. Valerie you know I LOVE YOU! I really hope you are able to attend the conference in June! We need a meet up girl! :) MUUUUUAAAAH!!!!