Whole Brain Teaching Book Study – Chapters 1-4

Today I’m linking up with Mrs. Shipley from Mrs. Shipley’s Classroom to reflect and talk about a book study I am currently participating in: Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids. So far, my entire WBT (Whole Brain Teaching) experience has completely altered my classroom and my students. I have always been super passionate about teaching but WBT has refreshed and energized my classroom even more! I hope you’ll join me as I tell you about some exciting changes that have come about as a result of this book. You can purchase this book on Amazon to learn along with us. 🙂
If you are not familiar with Whole Brain Teaching, I can only describe it as this: The highest amount of student engagement you will ever experience, mixed with higher-order thinking skills that are student-led, and the most effective classroom management procedures you’ve ever used!  
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical when I first started to learn about WBT.  I’ve always been one to pride myself on my classroom management.  I felt comfortable with management. It was “my thing.” It was always something that my principals and administration praised me on. So when I first started to see bits and pieces of it floating around on YouTube, I didn’t feel as though I would have much use for it.  After all, I thought the cute, little quiet chants I’ve used for five years worked just fine for me. Nevertheless, I devoured videos and self-taught myself as much as I could…
If I ever thought my classroom management and student engagement was good before WBT…well…I hadn’t seen anything yet!  This school year has been the most exciting year for me yet!
I have some challenging friends in my room this year.  I have students with an extraordinarily short attention span. The short amount of time that these students were able to focus at the beginning of the year was unreal to me. I hadn’t experienced this in six years. We couldn’t sit at the carpet. We couldn’t stand in a line. We couldn’t sit in a desk. We couldn’t sit through a mini lesson.
I went home those first couple of weeks stressed out.
Enter: The “Ah-Ha!” moment from Whole Brain Teaching:
The more we talk, the less our students listen. 
The more my students productively talk, the more my students learn.  
In his book, Chris Biffle explains that short, direct micro lectures and directions are most effective with challenging students.  Using short 30 second to 45 second pieces of information has worked wonders for my challenging kiddos this year. However, I have found this to be true of ALL students.  Chris also explains that even the most challenging students want to be a part of the classroom environment.  If you had told me this statement while I watched math game pieces being thrown across my classroom this past August, I might have laughed at you.  However, after concentrating on WBT and making it a daily part of every moment in our classroom, I now do not deal with behavioral issues from my challenging students.  It’s not that I’m choosing to ignore the behaviors or “deal with it.” It’s because it’s not an issue anymore.  
After fully implementing WBT this year (not just “kind of implementing it” – REALLY implementing it):
I spend 99.9% my time teaching – not managing. 
I have cut down the amount of times I need to repeat directions to my students drastically. 
I rarely use my clip chart anymore. I actually have to force myself to use it because I forget about it so much. We just don’t need it.  (Since I started with the clip chart this year, I feel the need to carry that through until May so that I don’t confuse my parents. 🙂
I have completely eliminated the old “treasure box” from our system of rewards. 
My students’ grammar and use of complete sentences in oral speech has improved drastically. 
I come home each day happy and stress-free about my classroom.  (Now, I’m not saying I don’t stress out over lesson plans, data, paperwork, and all the other stuff that goes with teaching. But, I do not stress-out or get anxious about student behavior because I don’t feel as though I have any behavior issues anymore with WBT.)
The point? Teachers are in charge of how they feel each day within their classroom:  
-If you choose to be disorganized, your classroom will be chaotic.
-If you choose to be inconsistent with your consequences, your challenging students will walk all over you.
-If you choose to be unprepared for your lessons, your results will be poor lessons with poor results, and students who are disengaged in what they are learning.
And, my favorite…  Grow or die.  If you refuse to try new techniques with your students, you are ultimately killing yourself as a teacher.  
As we go through the book study, I will share Chris Biffle’s strategies and techniques of WBT with you. For now, I’m leaving you with Chris’ challenge from Chapter 4.  Sort your students by their classroom behavior.  Your categories are: Alphas, Go-Alongs, Fence Sitters, Challenging Students, New Students, and Leaders. 
Alphas: Your model students. These students follow the rules every single time. Give each student in your Alpha group 4 points.
Go-Alongs: These students usually “go along” with you. Sometimes, they fall a bit short of being model students. Give each Go-Along student 3 points.
Fence Sitters: These are students who can be model students one day and not follow directions the next.  Each Fence Sitter gets 2 points.
Challenging Students: These students rarely, if ever, follow the rules in  your classroom. They do not raise their hand to speak, stay on task, etc. Give each Challenging Student 1 point. 
New Students: New students are automatically put in the Fence Sitters category until you are ready to really assess them. 
Leaders: Leaders go above and beyond Alphas. They are self-managing. They are the ultimate leaders in your classroom.  Your big goal is to train as many leaders as possible throughout the year. Each Leader in your room gets 5 points.
Now, find the average of your points and write it down. As you learn more and more about WBT, reassess your class. Your goal is to continue to improve this class average.  I know that as you study and implement WBT, your student average will increase as well. I also know that your own attitude, outlook, and joy in teaching will continue to increase. 🙂  
Visit Mrs. Shipley’s blog by clicking HERE for a free printable download to track your progress and your students’ progress in WBT. She is amazing!
Until our next book study post, I’m going to leave you with these free WBT posters that you can find in my TpT store. 
I urge you to get the book and read it with us as we go through this WBT journey! 🙂
Thanks for stopping by! 

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    1. Hi Chelsea! 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting! I have it on my to-do list to do a two part blog post on how I've been using WBT with writing. I got a lot of ideas from Mrs. Shipley. Her link is in my current blog post. We act out the conventions of writing daily, even when they are just speaking to me. We also do a TON of oral writing. You can find lots of You Tube videos on oral writing with WBT that are fantastic! 🙂

  1. I love WBT. I have started using it with my class and it is awesome. I have only a couple of challenging students this year, so I have found keeping the scoreboard up is somewhat like you keeping your clip chart going. I have also changed up my rules a bit because raising hands to leave seats doesn't really work for me. We have some other strategies instead as these can be managed without interrupting me when I am working with small groups. I changed my rule one to "Follow directions quickly and correctly", and my rule 3 to "Be respectful and caring". I love using the rules when we need to correct any behaviors because the kids take the ownership and the rules spell it all out.

    Charlene/Diamond Mom
    Diamond Mom's Treasury

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by Charlene! Isn't it an amazing process?! Last year, like you, I changed my rule for leaving seats because I didn't have any children who abused that. This year that changed though so I got to see first hand why Chris Biffle put that rule in the program. I'm very flexible and relaxed in my classroom but this little one is up and down faster than an elevator in a hospital haha. The score board is GREAT! I'll be doing a post on that soon. 🙂

  2. I am going to be teaching a behavioral unit (K-2) this coming school year. It is an alternative placement classroom (last chance before district expulsion)…I want to use this type of teaching along with, morning meetings, and CHAMPS, to help keep my kids engaged and on task. Any suggestions?

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