A popular conference co-sponsored by the Allegan Area Educational Services Agency, Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and Hope College for educators seeking to enhance teaching and learning through the latest in brain research has returned for a 15th year.

The annual “Midwest Brain and Learning Institute” is convening on Monday-Wednesday, June 22-24, at Hope College, with a post-institute wrap-up on Thursday, June 25, at the Ottawa Area ISD Educational Services Building.

Approximately 90 educators from districts in the area and state-wide will be attending.  Some 1,400 educators from approximately different school districts or agencies across nine states have attended the program since it began in 2001.

The institute is intended for educators who work with students of all age levels, including pre-school teachers, K-12 educators and college professors.  The event is organized particularly with educators from West Michigan in mind, but regularly draws attendees from throughout the state and beyond.  This year’s institute is focusing on “Engaging the Brain: How to Make It Happen.”

The institute is committed to providing opportunities for connecting educators to the neuroscience of learning by translating the current neuroscience research into practice, leveraging change by promoting reflection of one’s own practice, creating a community of learners and encouraging synergy of thinking which ignites a passion for learning.

The program’s format itself has been designed in light of neuroscience research and emphasizes the guiding principle that learners must be actively involved.  The institute’s settings have been varied to include whole-group presentations, question-and-answer panels, small-group learning clubs and opportunities for informal dialogue.

The event will feature three keynote speakers:

• G. Christian Jernstedt, professor emeritus of psychological and brain sciences, adjunct professor emeritus of community and family medicine, and director emeritus of the Center for Educational Outcomes at Dartmouth College;

• Ray McNulty, dean for the School of Education at Southern New Hampshire University, senior fellow and past president to the International Center for Leadership in Education, chair of the National Dropout Prevention Network, past president of ASCD and author of “It’s Not Us Against Them—Creating the Schools We Need”; and

• Linda Jordan, director of content development for The International Center for Leadership in Education, co-director for the Center for Highly Effective Teaching, and co-founder and planner of the Midwest Brain and Learning Institute.

Additional presenters throughout the institute will be Ronna Alexander and Ellen Harris.  Alexander, in her ninth year with the institute, is a graphic recorder who visually captures the content of all the presentations for the week on large-format charts which are then digitized and provided to all attendees.  Harris, who is with Strategic Moves Inc., is a strong advocate for working with the whole child using movement to meet both educational and physical needs.

The post-institute session on Thursday, June 25, will emphasize “Taking the Institute Home.”  The morning will consist of a presentation by Jordan on student engagement and a presentation on the use of technology in the classroom by Gayle Underwood, technology integration consultant for the Allegan Area Education Service Agency.  The afternoon will feature guided reflection on the institute using Alexander’s graphic notes so that the educators can create concrete plans on how to apply what they have learned in their own classrooms and share the information with colleagues.

More information about the institute may be obtained online at braininstitute.org