Editors Note: Holly Brody is a STEAM Coach at Wilkinson Elementary and a Mind in the Making facilitator.
Mind in the Making is an incredible tool for all members of a community. Executive function skills are often glazed over in college for educators and other professionals, and families rarely get a glimpse into this kind of “brain” learning. It’s fascinating for everyone because not only are you learning basic life skills for the betterment of children’s lives, but you’re learning through the lens of self-reflection. Executive function skills, like clear communication or perspective taking, can easily be taken for granted or unknowingly expected of others that have yet to develop them. In Mind in the Making, these skills are defined, clarified, practiced, and reflected.
Mind in the Making not only gives participants an opportunity to contemplate how to create more productive environments for children but also to reflect upon one’s own life skills. The facilitated delivery style of these workshops create an environment where adults can look within themselves and question whether they’re giving as they’re expecting or whether they’re expecting too much of others. The camaraderie and trust built among the participants allow for rich, life-altering discussions. It’s an experience where you can walk away changed because you now have a deeper understanding of people.
Our learning group consisted of educators, professionals, and parents. The mix of individuals provided the group with unique and distinctive perspectives. We were able to build off one another’s thoughts and experiences and stretch our thinking as a result of hearing how people have handled unique opportunities in their lives.
One of the most beautiful things I saw because of our work together was a group of teachers immediately implementing brain building techniques with students at the school assembly. There happened to be a workshop the night before the assembly where we talked about the importance of children actively “doing” to learn effectively. During a moment of downtime the following day, teachers began playing physically-active mental games with our students, building their executive function skills.
Many of students come from environments where parents do not know or understand the value of these exchanges. Because of this learning, our teachers extended their usual work to include these meaningful and productive interactions.