I remember when I first learned about Brain Gym®. I was teaching second grade at the time and those “buzz words” circulated around-first at my school and then the district.
It was intriguing to me. 26 (seemingly unusual) movements with interesting sounding names that could help students in a classroom. I wanted to learn more about them and how they worked!
At the time, my district offered expansive and varied professional development opportunities to teachers multiple times a year. I seem to remember that I missed the first opportunity to learn about Brain Gym and was disappointed. I started hearing about teachers who were able to get to the first workshop and had started to use (and rave about!) the movement activities. I talked to those teachers about it, but really wanted (and needed) to attend a workshop myself in order to embrace the program. And so- I watched from afar, patiently waiting for Brain Gym to show up again on another professional development day.
Once I was finally able to get to the next workshop, I immediately took to the program. Our district was lucky because one of the teachers had written a grant that provided the class participants with not only the opportunity to take the class, but also supplemental materials. We were given the Brain Gym Teacher’s Edition, a poster for our classroom and even cards with the movements on them!
I went away from the workshop with a renewed vigor of ways to help my students (among many other things!) focus, be ready for learning, and calm nerves. I started using the movements almost immediately. I created a Brain Gym “corner”. I taught my students the four-step process called PACE and did it faithfully every morning with the class- we even used music! I also worked many of the other movements into our day.
And you know what? I started to see beautiful changes in my students. They were more focused. They were able to listen better. I didn’t have to repeat instructions as often. They could settle in better after recess and they were able to work better independently.
At that point, I understood why Brain Gym had become so popular with other teachers. I understood why a teacher felt so passionate about it that they took the time to write the grant so that other teachers could bring it to their classrooms.
It worked. Brain Gym worked. The kids loved it, I loved it, the principal at my school loved it and the parents loved it.
So when I think back upon that time- and we’re talking around 10 years ago now- I wonder what happened. I used it faithfully for a year or two when I taught second grade, and pulled it out again when I started teaching 4th grade a few years later (I held a technology teaching position in between those two grade levels). But somewhere- somewhere! it fell to the wayside. It may have been because of new curriculum demands placed on me, or maybe I felt like I didn’t have time. But you know what? I regret letting it drop.
I regret letting it drop because I forgot how much it helped me and my students! I forgot how much time I gained in my classroom by doing Brain Gym with them. I forgot how empowered my students felt when they were able to go to the Brain Gym corner and do some movements to help themselves to focus, calm down, ready themselves for learning or whatever else they needed help with. I just plain forgot and let other things take its place. Which, I believe, was to the detriment of my students- and to me.
What’s really ironic here, is that now- fast-forward around 8 years later. My son started going to Brain Fit Academy, where Brain Gym is an integral part of the program. I resumed the learning about Brain Gym in the 101 class-this time with Pam Formosa and through Brain Fit. I was still teaching, but as a specialist (rather than a classroom teacher).
I told Pam about my first experiences with Brain Gym as a teacher during that weekend 101 class. The first night of the class, I pulled out the materials I had in storage from way back when- when I first learned about Brain Gym. I pulled out the poster. I pulled out the movement cards. I pulled out the original handouts I was given, and I pulled out the Brain Gym Teacher’s Edition. I brought them to the class I was taking with Pam and I showed her.
Come to find out? It was a person affiliated with Pam’s first business that did that training at my school! I learned about Brain Gym that long ago at my school and was now revisiting it years later with (basically) the same company- and I didn’t even realize it!
After that 101 class, I (again) incorporated Brain Gym into my classroom. Granted, it was a little tricky since I didn’t have just one group of kids I saw everyday. But in doing so? In bringing Brain Gym back to my teaching? I reminded myself how much I love it. I also reminded myself about how much it can do for kids- and for teachers!
And now? Well now, I’m the one that wants to spread the word about Brain Gym.
I’m a coach at Brain Fit Academy and I’m now the teacher with the passion. I’m the one that wants to teach other teachers about Brain Gym and how it can help them and their students. I’m the one that is now starting to give professional development workshops for teachers. I’m the one that is introducing them to Brain Gym- just like I was introduced to it so many years ago.
Here on my desk- beside me? I have my original copy of the Brain Gym Teacher’s Edition. The same copy that was given to me from that grant 10 years ago. This well-loved copy that been highlighted and sticky-noted and contains dog-eared pages. It’s sitting here, looking at me.
So please- if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got work to do with that Teacher’s Edition. There’s a lot of teachers out there in the world, but only one of me.
I want to teach those teachers about Brain Gym and I best get busy preparing…
*Brain Gym is a registered trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation, dba Breakthroughs International, Santa Barbara, CA, http://www.breakthroughsinternational.org.”