From Teacher to Student
By Priscilla R., ERG Coach
About four years ago I saw an ad that asked a brilliant question with an obvious answer: Do you want to help make people smarter? For me the answer was a resounding, “Yes!”
I found that ad and started at The ERG at nearly the same time as I was looking into graduate programs. I wanted to study neuroscience, but that involved many years of school and commitment. I did not have the experience, confidence or attention span for the thought of a PhD. I put that thought on hold and completed my training to be a cognitive trainer and later a coach. I stand behind the fact that of course I wanted to help make people smarter, but I did not realize that I was gaining the experience that I needed as well as the tools to feel confident enough to start a graduate program with zero prior experience except for what I learned at The ERG.
Every student has different strengths and struggles; among those is attention span, processing speed, reading comprehension, problem solving and memory. In the process of working through these skills with students I gained many new skills improved my weak ones. I learned about executive function, how they relate to each other and how they can mask each other.
For example, if the average person had to identify one skill that was not their strongest they would most likely say memory. Memory gets so much attention at every age. We talk about it without even realizing. You might ask a friend what they got for their birthday last year and most likely they will say, “I don’t remember”. However, it may not be the memory’s fault. Lack of attention can mask a fine memory; slow processing speed does not always give your memory a chance; being visual as opposed to auditory does not always lend itself to a clear memory; weak problem solving could leave your friend empty headed when thinking about what she got for her birthday.
As I learned about the different avenues of learning I was able to better explain to my students the value of what they were doing and, as a result, they were better able to apply the skills they were improving and learning. The more I understood the more I could value the idea of being able to attempt and accomplish the hard things. I could stop saying, “I don’t remember” without a true attempt at remembering. Again, as a result, my students could take on the same feeling. Gaining these skills makes doing the “hard things” less daunting and produces great confidence.
So how can I ask my students to try to remember what they had for breakfast four days go or tell me an improvement every time I see them unless I am able to do the same? While this is not required of the trainers at The ERG, I feel confident in saying that in some way or another all of the trainers get the feeling of wanting to be the best they can in order to show their students rather than tell. In addition, students of all ages trust a person who understands, values, and shows strengths in doing the “hard things”. I have started paying attention to my own personal goals and improvements, practicing reciting the presidents while waiting at traffic lights, remembering birthdays of my nieces and nephews and doing mental math whenever I have the opportunity.
The time spent learning, growing and understanding has gotten me to where I am now. I will be starting graduate school this month to get my masters in Neuroscience and Education. The plan remains the same: help make people smarter.