Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning

Educational Neuroscience Pioneer Dr. Lori Desautels on her NEW book About “Connections Over Compliance, Rewiring Our Perceptions of Discipline”

April 21, 2020

This is episode #56 with Dr. Lori Desautels, a returning guest who I know everyone loves as much as I do. If you want to hear our first interview with Lori, go back and listen to episode 16[i] with Lori and Michael McKnight on “The Future of Educational Neuroscience in our Schools and Communities.” To watch this interview on YouTube, click here. 

Welcome to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, my name is Andrea Samadi, I’m a former educator whose been fascinated with understanding the science behind high performance strategies in schools, sports and the workplace and created this podcast to bring the most current neuroscience research, along with high performing experts who have risen to the top of their field with specific strategies or ideas that you can implement immediately, whether you are a teacher or student in the classroom, or working in the corporate world, to take your results to the next level.  

Thanks for tuning into the podcast today! If this is your first time here, I am so grateful that you have taken the time to listen. Today I am thrilled at the opportunity to speak with Dr. Lori Desautels for the second time.

I first found Lori from her TEDx Talk from Indianapolisi when I was searching for anything in the field on educational neuroscience back in 2014 and watched her videos to understand how parts of the brain worked, how they are interconnected and impact learning. In Lori’s Ted Talk, she mentioned that “neuroscience and education have come together” and it’s a huge connection because every day experiences change the brain structurally and functionally—and I thought, this is incredible that we can finally explain how we can accelerate learning with this understanding of the brain.  Over the years as I’ve continue my research in this field, each person I speak with points me back to Lori Desaultel as a pioneer in this field. Her work is groundbreaking as she ties the research into these practices that we must all learn to stay at the height of our productivity and achievement. 

Welcome Lori, thank you so much for coming back on as a returning guest. 

I feel like we are old friends now that I had the chance to see you speak live this past October, and with the fact you are sharing your new book with me in real time as you are writing it. I’ve been reading it as you are sending the chapters and emotions really are contagious. Before we dive into the questions, can you tell me more about why this book is so timely, and maybe a bit about the work you are doing on a day to day basis for the field of education. 

1- Your new book “Connections Over Compliance, Rewiring Our Perceptions of Discipline” begins with exploring this new perception of discipline with educator and parent brain state. I wish I knew this when I stood in front of my first class as a new teacher (in Toronto in the late 1990s) wondering why no one was listening, and watched their behavior escalate to where I started to count down the days till the school year was over. I had no idea where to even begin...and never would have thought of—with myself. Can you explain why we must “look under the hood at our own brain state” when we are teaching or relating to others?

Q2-Im so grateful that brain research is helping us to gain a deeper understanding of how to improve our results, achievement and learning and that leaders like you are spear heading the way with this understanding. How can we better understand a regulated vs dysregulated brain state? These are not terms I was taught in my teacher training classes over 20 years ago. In a perfect world, everyone would be able to recognize when they are becoming dysregulated with strategies to get themselves back on course. What work still needs to happen for this awareness? 

Q3- I learned about Dr. Bruce Perry from you, and a couple of our most recent podcasts focus on his research. You quote him in the beginning of your book when he states that “The key to the success of any educational experience is the capacity to ‘get to the cortex.’ Yet, each year, nearly one-third of all children attending U.S. public schools will have significantly impaired cortical functioning and behavioral challenges due to abuse, neglect, domestic violence, poverty, and other adversities.”2 How are teachers expected to teach if this is the case? How can we bring more awareness to your work so that teachers can better prepare themselves for these experiences, so they come in with self-regulation strategies that they use like clockwork? 

What about these strategies for parents? I can pick out a handful of times that I’ve written a lesson on self-regulation and then in seconds have become dysregulated when my own kids have pushed my buttons. I know these strategies, and with practice (meditation has helped my ability to respond instead of react) but some of these strategies have taken me years of practice. What can we do now immediately to help families in these times of increased stress to bring in the idea that we can be fully regulated, but become dysregulated quickly if we aren’t trained. 

According to Nickolas Long, “If the adult is neither trained nor prepared to accept their own counter-aggressive feelings, the adult will act on them, in effect mirroring the student’s behavior.” (Ch 2)

Q4- I was shocked when I heard Dr. Perry[ii] talking about the vulnerability in the population that can occur when we are exposed to prolonged stress response. I first learned about the impact of stress on the brain and learning from you. Dr. Perry brought in the research from families from the Katrina Disaster in 2005 and how the research shows that the offspring of those families exposed to this level of stress response had an increase of substance abuse issues. That made me stop and think of how important and timely your work is right now, not only before we had the COVID-19 outbreak, but what about AFTER this time, for those marginalized families? Can you dive deeper into why an understanding of our brain is so important right now?  Do you have thoughts or plans on how to reach families in need of these strategies?  

Thank you so much for all you have done to support us here at Achieveit360 to learn about educational neuroscience. If anyone wants to reach Dr. Lori Desautels, please do reach out to via email to ldesaute@butler.edu and via her website at http://revelationsineducation.com/ 

REFERENCES:

[i] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast EPISODE #16 with Dr. Lori Desautels and Michael McKnight on “The Future of Educational Neuroscience in our Schools and Communities.” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/lori-desautels-and-michael-mcknight-on-the-future-of-educational-neuroscience-in-our-schools-and-communities/

[ii] https://www.neurosequential.com/covid-19-resources

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