Timothy Kieran O’Mahony, PhD
As learning leaders, I view teachers as powerful change agents for lifelong learning, whose role is to reach for every child’s potential regardless of society’s label, adverse childhood experiences, or underrepresentation. Mental models about how our brains function and how we learn informs and empowers that capacity for change agency. I study the intersection of teaching and neuroscience in a practical collaboration that introduces relevant neuro-knowledge, which profoundly impacts adolescent learning and potential. Areas of expertise include learning sciences, how people learn and neuroscience substrates to many of the daily challenges that impact learning (e.g., stress, attention, working memory, cognition, plasticity). The primary locus of intervention is with administrators and principals where change that is meaningful and practical has high impact for teachers, students, and parents—delicately balanced three-legged stool of learning. Using in situ institutes and professional learning community (PLC) meetings, I co-create with teachers a Mind, Brain, Education (MBE) learning environment that cross-fertilizes domain knowledge with neuro-scientific research applied to learning, developmental psychology for adolescent learning, and practical applications of learning sciences in the field. Translation of meaningful neuro-informed research delivers pedagogic models that offer nuanced insights to classroom management, content exposition, engagement, and unintended consequences like labeling and stratification by establishing novel and innovative approaches to educational environments—formal and informal. This work has meaningful application for people in all learning settings and situations they find themselves in the world, and is inclusive of historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, women, individuals with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ community members and others—if you have a brain you are in our club. This work is accomplished through incorporating theories of action and methods that align neuroscience with how the brain works and how children learn (HPL), within existing systems and constraints and within a framework of adaptive expertise (AE).