How Detroit Country Day Uses the Science Behind Learning to Teach


Detroit Country Day is taking part in a groundbreaking new way to teach teachers – and students – how to learn.

BY: KORIE WILKINS
Sponsored by Detroit Country Day School

For years, teachers taught and students learned and sometimes, there was a magical moment when a certain lesson went well or a student really got a concept.
But there was little science behind why that magic happened – it was mostly intuition and experience guiding educators.
In recent years, however, there has been research into the brain and how teachers can learn to reach students in more effective ways, based on how they learn and how their brains absorb information.
It’s a field of study called Mind, Brain and Education Science (MBE), and Detroit Country Day’s teachers are learning how to implement it into curriculum from one of the leaders in the field, Glen Whitman director of The Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning in Maryland. Teachers attended sessions with Whitman’s team in August and will attend more sessions in January.
Denise Liberty, DCD’s director of professional development, first learned about Mind Brain Education several years ago and instantly, she knew it was something she had to bring to educators.
How Detroit Country Day Uses the Science Behind Learning to Teach

Denise Liberty, DCD’s director of professional development

“This really speaks to all teachers,” she said. “There is overwhelming support for it across all three campuses – all grade levels. All courses. We, as educators, are brain changers.”
In a nutshell, MBE is a field of research that began at Harvard more than 20 years ago. It links the fields of neuroscience, psychology and education together and seeks to understand how brains work and how that impacts learning.
MBE fits in with DCD’s motto: Mens Sana In Corpore Sano which means “A sound mind in a sound body,” Liberty said.
Teachers there are working to incorporate MBE principles into their curriculum, a process Liberty is helping to coordinate, as the school works to constantly improve not only what they teach but how they teach it.
How Detroit Country Day Uses the Science Behind Learning to Teach

Faculty members attending Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning (CTTL)  with Denise in 2018.

And with actual science behind them, teachers can learn how kids learn and then make changes to content, strategies and methods to provide a better experience.
“We are definitely on the right track,” Liberty said. “This isn’t a buzzword. There is evidence to back it up. There is science.”
At DCD, student wellbeing is at the forefront of every day. And educators know that external factors absolutely play a role in how students learn – or why they may struggle.
Liberty said MBE allows a framework – a guide – to not only understand and acknowledge those challenges, but meet them head on and provide strategies to manage them.
“It’s about having the tools, making connections and making education more accessible,” she said. “And it helps the students reason and learn and think about how they learn so they can self-advocate. We all take in information differently.”
In light of the many challenges schools are facing today, Liberty said, MBE can be helpful situationally. MBE guides educators to gauge their students’ cognitive load, which can be critical with many outside stressors. They are able to successfully adjust their curriculum to achieve the best retention and level of comprehension.
“Acknowledging these stressors will improve the overall process of learning. Now, more than ever, we need to help kids create balance.”“We are also supporting and helping teachers with their own cognitive load. Mind Brain Education helps equip them with the tools they need.”
DETROIT COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL
22305 West Thirteen Mile Rd
Beverly Hills, MI 48025