I affectionately called him Jess, My Mess, not because he was disorganized or disheveled in appearance. Quite the contrary, it was just a loving nickname dipped in rhyme... but I must admit that when he came up with unexpected requests or unusual comments, I was often the one with a haphazard reaction.
UNDERSTANDING HEMISPHERIC DOMINANCE
Sammy, age 5, sauntered up to my desk before class started and asked which brain he was to use that day - “the right one or the wrong one!” The brain and its hemispheres were discussed during circle time the day before. Because visuals and analogies were not used during that discussion an unintended connection was made by this 5 year old. Sammy’s question, along with several other events, hinted that he was right-brain dominant which proved true over time. During a following one-on-one conference with Sammy, techniques were applied that were not only right-brain friendly but supportive of the connections between the hemispheres. Visual language was used. Drawings accompanied the explanation, humor was interjected and simple labels were applied. When Sammy later explained to his mom how his brain worked, I knew he not only understood but also felt proud in his achievement.
We should recognize the attributes of both hemispheres of the brain-not to label but to have a deeper understanding. Whether an individual is right-brain dominant or left-brain dominant, it is important to conduct mental and physical activities that build a stronger bridge between the two. (See Short and Sweet Activities)
Learn your strengths:
Left Brain Functions
Serious Ideas/Logical Ideas
Objective Processing of Ideas
Dislikes of Improvisation
Little Use of Metaphors
Little Use of Analogies
Abstract Math Computation
Sequencing of Concepts
Duplication and Application
Deals with verbal ideas and uses words to describe things
Uses Symbols to represent things
Right Brain Functions
Subjective processing of ideas
Use of Metaphors
Use of Analogies
Simple Math Computation
Aware of things but does not connect them with words
See things as they are
THE LESSON LEARNED:
Hemispheric functions can help explain the successes and the failures of students as well as the successes and the failures of teachers. Learning how to readily access the functions of both hemispheric lobes builds the foundation for the highest achievement.
LENGTHEN THE LESSON:
Left Brain vs. Right Brain: Understanding the Basic Differences
By Andrew Loh
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It was my last semester for certification in elementary education. I had only one project remaining to complete—a reading practicum with 6th graders at a pre-arranged campus. But on the way to the school a problem arose.
He was five. I was... well, past thirty-five. For a short time he considered himself “King of Kindergarten,” and he ruled in an unusual way. He threw up (vomited) every time a mishap occurred in the classroom. Out of empathy and in response to his mother's warning I was dealing with a “sensitive child,” I would clean up the mess, console the child, and ask for details. It always occurred when my back was turned. No matter how hard I tried to watch all things at all times, I was missing something. Why was this child repeatedly having problems serious enough to eject his food? After the third clean-up, the consolations, and suspicious explanations, my aching knees were alerting me to an emerging pattern.
Avery was late for school. I was surprised because her parents were very conscientious and respectful of not disrupting class with late arrival. During parent orientation I was thorough in my explanation of the values of punctuality and respect for others, showing the parents how much time was wasted with repeated instructions and re-engagement of the seated students—especially those with attention problems. Directions were given again as I smiled at Avery and motioned for her to sit down and pick up her pencil so she could jump in and catch up with the lesson. By losing the attention of the classroom, 10 minutes of engaged teaching time was lost. But what Avery had learned that day was more important than any fact or skill I could provide.