My evolution from educator to neuroeducator has been a process of connecting the dots.
It began with a love of learning and a passion to empower my students throughout the learning process, particularly the underperforming and those with ADHD or learning disabilities.
As a mom and life-long educator, you can imagine my dismay when by 4th grade, my sons said they hated school. The spark they once had for school was barely a flicker. When asked, “How was school?” “Boring” was the daily refrain. “What did you learn?” “Nothing” was the typical response. I found this particularly frustrating because I was a teacher. A special educator to boot. Yet, I was unequipped to get to the root of the problem and felt I had fallen short as a parent and educator. I wanted to know why my sons, who loved learning, hated school.
Over the years, I discovered they weren’t alone.
In my classroom visits to schools across the country, I observed an increase of students in negative emotional states — anxiety, frustration, anger, boredom and lack of relevance to subject matter, causing them to act out or zone out — the same emotions my own sons were experiencing.
And it wasn’t just me noticing these behaviors.
I found myself in numerous conversations with teachers, coaches and parents who expressed frustration that their students, players or children lacked focus, motivation, resilience, self-regulation and self-direction, despite best efforts to instruct them.
What was going on?
It wasn’t until the diagnosis of a family member with Post-Concussion Syndrome that I started to get some answers. I became a regular participant at Neuroscience and Learning and the Brain Conferences where I experienced many lightbulb moments, particularly about the impact of stress on learning and the importance of syncing the cognitive, social and emotional parts of the brain.
Armed with my new knowledge of brain development and how the brain best learns and responds, it hit me that many students, my sons included, were often in negative emotional states that were inhibiting their learning. Additionally, they, and many students like them, were not receiving explicit instruction to build their underdeveloped skills and were rarely being instructed in ways that appeal to the brain.
In fact, it was quite the opposite. I found that:
- Educators and students are not typically taught about the brain and how it learns.
- In many classrooms, teachers are doing too much of the thinking and talking; students are doing too much sitting and not receiving enough multisensory and metacognitive ways to learn and retain subject matter.
- Many of the executive function skills employers seek in candidates–i.e. goal setting, task initiation, organization, time management, self-awareness, self-regulation, cognitive flexibility — are not explicitly taught in school.
It was time to take action.
I designed a set of “toolboxes” to address these gaps by taking Neuroscience findings and transforming them into user-friendly applications for use in school, sports, relationships, jobs and life. I felt confident these offerings and my key topics — executive function, metacognition, growth mindset, anxiety and student engagement — would have particular value and relevance, given their link to learning and the realization that 30% of children and teens are affected by an anxiety disorder, with depression on the rise. With this knowledge and the chain of events that had played out, I needed to do something.
I founded AMMPE.
AMMPE is my response to voids in our education system and teacher training. My core mission is to help clients — teachers, students, parents, coaches and athletes — use neuroscience findings to their advantage and equip them with immediate, practical strategies to decrease stress and boost learning, engagement, metacognition, motivation, executive function, performance and a growth mindset…skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.
My toolboxes — interactive trainings, workshops and/or one-on-one support — combine key information about the brain with strategic, quick applications to decrease stress and build underdeveloped skills needed for optimal learning, performance and success. Toolboxes are designed for:
My experiences as a parent, former classroom teacher and learning specialist of students from K through college bring a deep level of credibility, relatability and understanding of the challenges teachers, students and parents face. More importantly, my clients receive tools that empower them to stress less, work smarter and achieve more.
To address the spike in anxiety, I wrote A.B.C. Worry Free to help kids and adults in their lives learn how to manage anxiety with an actionable strategy they can use in the moment, anytime, anyplace.
Though designed as a children’s book, it can be used with any age. I have incorporated A.B.C. Worry Free in my work with teachers, students, parents, coaches and athletes. When kids and adults learn how anxiety works and how to interrupt its patterns, they can take control over anxiety’s vicious cycle vs. inadvertently feed it, resulting in less stress, more joy and better results in school, relationships and various aspects of life.
It’s my goal that with these resources students and athletes can more easily and regularly “step into the zone,” remember more of what they learn and achieve life-changing outcomes.
Neuroeducational Consultant Noel Foy, commonly known as Neuro Noel, is a former classroom teacher and Learning Specialist. She is the founder of AMMPE and the Author of A.B.C. Worry Free, a children’s book that provides an actionable approach to managing anxiety and includes tips for educators and parents. Join Neuro Noel’s email list and be sure to engage on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, and Instagram.