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Teaching & Presenting the ‘Lightning Learning’ Way
Sharon Promislow

It was my great good fortune to first be invited to present at the International Alliance for Learning Conference in 1995, little realizing I would gain as much as I gave. My message to them, novel at the time, that a flow learning state was not just in the balance of brain waves, but to “be in the flow from head to toe”, Brain and Body in tune. As a specialized kinesiologist, my passion is getting people to understand and improve their brain/body “hardware” – to establish the neural connections for better learning and performance. My goal has always been to communicate how the brain, body and senses work, and how they can work better for you.

In return, the experience of accessing the finest minds in Accelerative Learning totally enriched and transformed both my own understanding and my ability to present and teach, and led to years of additional training in the field. The principles I was first introduced to at the conference, which I now practice and share in all my programs, are so simple and common-sense, that good teachers and presenters have always intuitively known them. However, they have not necessarily known why the principles work, nor had the opportunity to train to use them more effectively, as I do in my Lightning Learning and Presenter Training programs. They have not had an ”in-your-face” conscious awareness that they should be using them all the time, to consciously orchestrate the teaching and learning process. Here, in a nutshell, are some key tenets drawn from Accelerated and Brain-Based Learning that have transformed my work.

1. Music. I now understand and use the power of music to create brain states, and to support whatever group process is necessary – receiving information, creative processing, transitional activity, energizers, passive and active concerts, etc. Music helps make my presentation and teaching processes flow easily and seamlessly, accelerates learning, and is fun for both me and my participants. Music at 60-70 beats a minute is conducive to the flow state, the ideal learning state in which you are relaxed yet alert. Choose baroque music to support this state. Slower music, either classical adagio, or modern “trance music” can be used for a deep relaxation state, which is useful for subliminal learning. Lively music will provide a refreshing energy shift for a break, or to support a quick processing.

2. Presenting information in the way that the human brain learns best. I am constantly aware of Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences. All my material is presented orally, visually and kinesthetically. The use of overheads, games, Brain Gym®, class movement, partnering, insight activities, peripherals etc., makes it all seem so EASY for the participants. The best comments I receive from my workshop participants are that the concepts are so clear and so easy. I simply smile to myself. The material I am sharing used to be considered complex and often threw people into overwhelm. Now they feel they hardly need me, except as a group facilitator. I put a lot of energy into making it all feel effortless and my reward is the creation of a receptive, excited, happy group dynamic.

3. Understanding the brain’s cycles and rhythms. This means knowing I should not go longer than 1 minute for every year of age to a maximum of 20 minutes without a break and a shift of energy in the room. Some scientists now state we should shift our energy every 12 minutes to assure focus) It means understanding that I must move in preset time periods between presenting new material and allowing students to process and express it in order for learning to occur.

4. Peripherals. Before I could create wall charts with the essential concepts I want my class to assimilate, I first had to get really clear on what my own goals and key concepts were. Then the participants get to preview and review information on the walls constantly, be it consciously and unconsciously. I can use the peripherals for group processes such as having them put up the charts in order at the beginning of the class, interacting with others off them, and also choosing important concepts to present to the rest of the class as the basis for a review.

5. Becoming a learning facilitator rather than a ”sage on the stage”. Spending time on creating the context for learning to occur (i.e. defining exactly why the participants want the learning they have gathered for and what they already know), allows me to drop in the new learning within the framework of what they already know. I use the brain friendly sequence of first ”priming the pump” by asking the questions to which the brain will want to find answers, getting an overview of the information, then filling in the details, and allowing participants to constantly ground and evaluate their learning with partnering, mind maps, and other forms of personal and group review. I can then add anything that remains to be learned, and it is quick and easy, because it is in the context of what they already know.

6. Teaching and using memory techniques. This makes easy work of my heavier content. In my opinion, the teaching of memory techniques is a ‘value added bonus’ to my workshops, because participants not only use them to easily assimilate my course content, but can take those techniques out and use them in other areas of their lives.

Over the past three years I have been on an exciting voyage of discovery that has now translated into a career as a trainer of Brain-Based Learning skills which I have incorporated into my previous work as an Educational Kinesiologist. I teach an Enhanced Learning Series which encompasses enhancing the brain/body connection, state management skills, whole-brained note taking strategies, creative thinking skills, rapid reading and memory training.I have developed courses in “Lightning Learning” to share the brain-based techniques, and a course in “Express Expression“, to help others improve their presentation skills. These group facilitation skills have opened an exciting new dimension to my career – corporate brainstorming and creativity training.

I have presented – and learned – at each year’s IAL conference since 1995. I encourage everyone from both the educational and corporate sectors to sample the important concepts accessed through the International Alliance for Learning and to incorporate them into your current endeavours. I hope to meet you soon!