To Our Educators

Quoted text from:  Dr. Mariale Hardiman’s book:
Connecting Brain Research with Effective Teaching: The Brain Targeted Teaching Model

Many teachers feel overwhelmed by the plethora of educational reforms and the pressure to raise test scores. It’s no surprise that beginning teachers typically feel this burden to an even greater extent. Let’s look at Mr. Johns’ experience as a first-year teacher of social studies. He believed that his fifth-grade students had mastered the objectives of the curriculum, yet their performance on the end-of-year assessment proved that they had retained little of the content and skills he thought he had taught during the school year. Mr. Johns wondered how his teacher preparation program could have better prepared him for the complexities of teaching in today’s classrooms. He wished he had acquired a better understanding of those teaching strategies that would have made his content more exciting for his students and would have resulted in meaningful, lasting learning.

My experience leading schools and instructing graduate students has convinced me that most teachers, like those described above, want to implement the best of what research and practice tell us is effective instruction. Yet they are constantly bombarded by new initiatives without being given a system to help them integrate these initiatives into classroom practice.

My own quest for education’s magic bullet led me in the mid-1980s to study brain research, which focused mainly on left/right brain studies and included the seminal work of neuroscientists such as Dr. Marian Diamond and Dr. Michael Gazzaniga. These studies in the 1980s preceded an explosion of brain research that has opened up new horizons about how we think and learn. I wondered at first if this attention to brain research was merely another fad or if it could truly help educators discover the best methods for teaching children. My own studies have since convinced me that brain research supports much of what experience and research tell us is effective instruction. Most important, studying brain research has helped me to determine which instructional strategies foster true learning. Yet, despite so much current attention, the findings of brain research are still not readily accessible to classroom teachers. I believe that teachers, as well as administrators and policy-makers, need a framework that integrates these findings into a coherent system connecting brain research with components of effective teaching.

This book is designed to do just that. It will present a model of instruction that targets what we now know supports how the brain thinks and learns. This instructional framework, which I’ve called the brain-targeted teaching model, does not purport to be a new method of teaching. Rather, it provides a format for using current brain research to guide teachers in planning, implementing, and assessing a sound program of instruction. It is my hope that the model will increase the potential of brain research not only to inform instructional strategies but also to suggest ways to organize schools and curricula to enhance teaching and learning. Its focus, however, is on classroom instruction, which is where authentic educational reform must take place. Its primary audience, then, is educational practitioners and those who guide and support them. As a practicing principal of a large, urban K–8 school and as a graduate education instructor, I interact with a wide range of teachers in both public and private schools throughout the state of Maryland and beyond. Their contributions to this book have been essential, giving the work its authenticity.

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