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Blame It On the Amygdala

Principal’s Blog

As any middle school teacher or middle school parent can attest to, the portion of our brain called the amygdala is responsible for some interesting emotional responses from our students.  Here’s why: the amygdala is activated every time we see, hear, touch, taste, or smell something.  When something is new, different, or stressful, some real trouble can begin.  It’s like an alarm goes off in our brain and our blood pressure might rise.  We might feel anxious or confused.

This is where emotional intelligence comes into the conversation.  Our emotional intelligence is the knowledge and awareness we have about our own feelings – and why we might be feeling that way.  It turns out that emotional intelligence is super important.  And we can learn more about our emotional intelligence everyday and watch it grow.

You might have noticed that our Kulshan students work in groups – a lot.  Collaboration is one of the key instructional strategies you’ll see if you walk into a classroom, or hear about if you ask your student what they are working on.  Why so much collaboration?  Collaboration helps students understand their emotions, and the emotions of others.  Collaboration give students opportunities to be “emotional intelligence” leaders. Collaboration allows kids to share positive facial expressions, voice, and gestures in a safe and supportive setting.  Collaboration gives students a chance to reflect on how they did as a team member and what they can do to improve.  We can see students’ emotional intelligence grow within their group in just one group activity, not to mention over an entire year.

Our Bellingham Promise asks us to develop students who are effective communicators and respectful humans.  Everyday, we tap into our emotional intelligence to slow down an immediate response into a more thoughtful, compassionate response.  Here’s to the power of the human brain!

With Thunderbird Pride,

Meagan Dawson

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