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Rewiring Adult Brains

Created By

EL Education

Resource Downloads

Topic

  • Professional Development

Type

Online Learning

The following text is a synthesis of some ideas contained in David Rock’s Quiet Leadership: Six Steps for Transforming Performance at Work with examples pulled from the work of instructional leaders and coaches. The chapter headings named below are not Rock’s chapter titles, but rather a key idea from the chapter that relates to the work of school leaders and instructional coaches.

Chapter 1: Coaches and leaders need to support teachers and others in doing their own thinking.

Our brains are intricate and complex webs constructing hard-wired “maps” of our thoughts, skills and attributes (p.4). When introduced to new ideas we instantaneously determine to which map the ideas attach or not. We constantly process new ideas and that requires three steps:

  1. considering them deeply, “thinking them through for ourselves;”
  2. moving towards understanding as we compare, associate and match new ideas to already-existing maps;
  3. experiencing that “aha” as an energetic shift that may motivate us to take action 

Chapter 2: Each of us has a unique mental map.

All people view the same situation from different perspectives. This results from the reality that the construction of every human’s brain circuitry is the amalgamation of every single sound, thought, perception, idea and experience within one’s lifetime. In helping a friend think something through, we need to remind ourselves that her brain will process and problem solve differently from our own. This impedes us to some degree since we hold the notion that since we’re friends we think alike. Not true. Therefore, any attempt to think through something for someone else hinders that person from working out the situation for herself.

Chapter 3: Habits are hard-wired into our brain maps.

When we learn something new or when an emotional event “teaches us a lesson,” those experiences are soon hard-wired into our brains. Examples of this: learning to swim; learning to ride a bike; telling a lie to a friend and getting caught by it. The brain does not “unlearn” these experiences.

Chapter 4: We perceive the world according to our wiring.

We approach all new information and experiences through the lenses of the hard-wired understanding that already exists in our mind maps. We process them and “place” them somewhere that makes sense, even if we are interpreting the event “incorrectly.” Therefore our habits drive our perceptions. This is the challenge to leaders and coaches.  There are important upsides to this: given the vast and rapid volume of information and events we experience every day, hardwiring quickly processes these and sustains our ability to cope.

There are also key downsides that are challenges to leaders and coaches:

  1. People tend to fight hard to hold onto their views of the world. Confronting folks directly to change a hard-wired belief can foster aggressive resistance;
  2. When significant changes happen in our outside world, people’s hearts and minds require more time to process these changes. For example, if teachers or support staff lose their jobs because of insubordination or budget cuts, or if a teacher surprisingly is reassigned to be a lead teacher, others affected by this change need the space and time to process this new reality.
  3. Given that people see the same situation differently, the best leaders invite different perspectives to a decision or problem in order to harness the best that is within a team.
  4. The reality may be that a person’s “map” is outdated. This person may respond to a new idea or to change with fear. Leaders need to be aware of this possibility and support these individuals in shifting their “maps” so that they can perform effectively within the new reality.

Chapter 5: The neuroplasticity of our brains allows us to create new maps.

In examining the source of our own hardwiring, be it the inability to stop smoking or lose weight, research is clear that we cannot simply talk ourselves into making these changes. The hardwiring around them is too embedded.

Instead, current research shows us that we can build new maps and circumvent the old pathways.  When we dedicate energy and attention to this new pathway, change happens. It requires time, positive feedback, and a laser-strong focus on remembering to make this change.

In conclusion, as leaders and coaches, you are charged with helping your teachers build new pathways so performance improves and capacity grows. When you identify the strengths in others, an effective leader and coach can be the agent of change that re-wires brain maps and fosters a highly effective member of a team.

The text above is based on David Rock’s book Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work, pages 3-26.

Rock, David. (2006). Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Created By

EL Education

Resource Downloads

Topic

  • Professional Development

Type

Online Learning

The following text is a synthesis of some ideas contained in David Rock’s Quiet Leadership: Six Steps for Transforming Performance at Work with examples pulled from the work of instructional leaders and coaches. The chapter headings named below are not Rock’s chapter titles, but rather a key idea from the chapter that relates to the work of school leaders and instructional coaches.

Chapter 1: Coaches and leaders need to support teachers and others in doing their own thinking.

Our brains are intricate and complex webs constructing hard-wired “maps” of our thoughts, skills and attributes (p.4). When introduced to new ideas we instantaneously determine to which map the ideas attach or not. We constantly process new ideas and that requires three steps:

  1. considering them deeply, “thinking them through for ourselves;”
  2. moving towards understanding as we compare, associate and match new ideas to already-existing maps;
  3. experiencing that “aha” as an energetic shift that may motivate us to take action 

Chapter 2: Each of us has a unique mental map.

All people view the same situation from different perspectives. This results from the reality that the construction of every human’s brain circuitry is the amalgamation of every single sound, thought, perception, idea and experience within one’s lifetime. In helping a friend think something through, we need to remind ourselves that her brain will process and problem solve differently from our own. This impedes us to some degree since we hold the notion that since we’re friends we think alike. Not true. Therefore, any attempt to think through something for someone else hinders that person from working out the situation for herself.

Chapter 3: Habits are hard-wired into our brain maps.

When we learn something new or when an emotional event “teaches us a lesson,” those experiences are soon hard-wired into our brains. Examples of this: learning to swim; learning to ride a bike; telling a lie to a friend and getting caught by it. The brain does not “unlearn” these experiences.

Chapter 4: We perceive the world according to our wiring.

We approach all new information and experiences through the lenses of the hard-wired understanding that already exists in our mind maps. We process them and “place” them somewhere that makes sense, even if we are interpreting the event “incorrectly.” Therefore our habits drive our perceptions. This is the challenge to leaders and coaches.  There are important upsides to this: given the vast and rapid volume of information and events we experience every day, hardwiring quickly processes these and sustains our ability to cope.

There are also key downsides that are challenges to leaders and coaches:

  1. People tend to fight hard to hold onto their views of the world. Confronting folks directly to change a hard-wired belief can foster aggressive resistance;
  2. When significant changes happen in our outside world, people’s hearts and minds require more time to process these changes. For example, if teachers or support staff lose their jobs because of insubordination or budget cuts, or if a teacher surprisingly is reassigned to be a lead teacher, others affected by this change need the space and time to process this new reality.
  3. Given that people see the same situation differently, the best leaders invite different perspectives to a decision or problem in order to harness the best that is within a team.
  4. The reality may be that a person’s “map” is outdated. This person may respond to a new idea or to change with fear. Leaders need to be aware of this possibility and support these individuals in shifting their “maps” so that they can perform effectively within the new reality.

Chapter 5: The neuroplasticity of our brains allows us to create new maps.

In examining the source of our own hardwiring, be it the inability to stop smoking or lose weight, research is clear that we cannot simply talk ourselves into making these changes. The hardwiring around them is too embedded.

Instead, current research shows us that we can build new maps and circumvent the old pathways.  When we dedicate energy and attention to this new pathway, change happens. It requires time, positive feedback, and a laser-strong focus on remembering to make this change.

In conclusion, as leaders and coaches, you are charged with helping your teachers build new pathways so performance improves and capacity grows. When you identify the strengths in others, an effective leader and coach can be the agent of change that re-wires brain maps and fosters a highly effective member of a team.

The text above is based on David Rock’s book Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work, pages 3-26.

Rock, David. (2006). Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

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