How to recognize patterns of learning

One word: Observation

Another word: Student profiles (right, two words, but one concept)

Before getting to these words, let’s look at why we care about learning patterns.

We want to recognize patterns of learning in order to cater our teaching better toward the needs of the student. This is a student centered thinking and approach to teaching / learning. The needs of the student comes first. Naturally teacher needs to cover the material required by the standards. Diversification of teaching is not only about the material, it is more about the process of learning modified to suit the individual capabilities and tendencies of individual students.

The first word, observation, gives us material to work with. We can see what modality works for the students. Which of the students learn primarily through hearing, which primarily though seeing and which are kinestetic requiring more concrete and physical learning experience.

Besides sensory patterns, there are also habitual learning methods. Children these days take in lots of information. It’s not necessarily in the form of one hour of lesson and homework. The channels  can be youtube, facebook, twitter, email, Google documents (Google drive) etc. Whatever the normal channels for children are, they can be used to leverage in teaching and learning. Teacher can communicate using these methods, and students can complete their projects using methods familiar to them. As a result, focus is on the material that needs to be learned and students enjoy the learning process much more, because they already know how to learn using these channels.

More methods to chart the learning patterns can be found in the Midwest Rotating University’s final presentation at the Maharishi University of Management colloquium.

Some more learning patterns are recognized by and utilized by Khan Academy, and implemented some of the schools we visited (Like Van Meter). Learn more in my presentation on Khan Academy.

The second word or words, student profiles, mean to take the information gained in observation is recorded and updated according to progress and changes. As children evolve and learn, their primary modalities and ways to learn may also change. See my article on learning differences in school children based on their developmental phases.

In diversification of teaching methods, student profiles contain a lot more relevant information pertaining to learning: readiness level, interests, talents, challenges, skills(math/linguistics/sports/arts etc), emotional and social patterns, and physical and mental health etc. All inquiries need to be made in a non-invasive way. Students usually express the most important things voluntarily. If they don’t that’s important information also. Few questions are usually sufficient to get all the information teacher needs to create an initial student profile.

Some items to list in the student profile:

  • Readiness level
  • Learning styles
  • Learning speed
  • Modalities
  • Intelligences
  • Cultural background
  • Ethnicity
  • Socioeconomic status of students and their parents

Many things, like socio-economic background effects the learning patterns or lack of the necessary patterns. Socio-economic status of the parents, for instance, has been found to effect the overall motivation of the student. To learn more, I recommend a paper I wrote on How to teach with differences in socio-economic status.

In respect to learning patterns, I would recommend creating student profiles for each student during the first days. Short meetings with the students can help understand what is going on in student’s life, what motivates them and how they are used to learning.

Student profiles can help how the lesson plans and larger curriculum is developed. It also creates a comprehensive ground for diversified teaching methods. Statistics derived from the profiles give lots of insights into planning. If, for instance, teacher has both fast and slow learners in the classroom, teacher can provide two sets of exercises to appropriately challenge both groups.

By initially observing, knowing and charting out the learning patterns or the lack in some cases, strong learning patterns can be strengthened and success experience in these can be transposed to other channels and patterns of learning.

To understand how new learning patterns are conditioned from neurophysiological point of view, you might want to read my article on the topic:


Learning Differences in School Children Based on Their Developmental Phases

One of the major factors in differentiating instruction is the development phase. The development phases are often likened to age groups, but studies and experience has shown that that is not entirely accurate. This is because individuals evolve at their own pace, and different areas of life may be developing at different pace as well.

Understanding the development phases in terms the of the age can be extremely helpful in understanding the child’s behavior and learning style.

Development Stages and Learning

Development Stages and Learning

From this chart we can see that depending on what is the ongoing development stage, the primary motivator changes. Primary motivator is that which child will naturally learn and is a new capability that requires exercising and practice.

As an example: if one is teaching a group of children of are group 11-18 years old, students have passed the concrete operations phase, and are ready to understand simple abstract concepts, build meaning for everything they encounter and are curious to put their attention to the things that are unknown. This curiosity to understand triggers lots of cognitive dis-equilibrium which can be understood as confusion. A teacher of this age group often is challenged by the students (who break all rules), knowledge is questioned and classes are perceived to be hard to control. The trick here is to understand that it is a normal and natural thing that is happening in the minds, bodies, hormones of the students and consequently in the classrooms. Besides understanding that it is normal, a talented teacher can be a classroom version of an Aikido master, redirecting all of that confused and curious energy towards the goals that the district has given to cover. As a result, the mutual trust and respect is built and learning happens. Students get support for the life phase they are going through so that they are ready for the next development phase where they can explore meaning of life and such things.

Anyone that has taught a class knows that not all in the age group are on the same development phase. Thus it is best to observe the children in the classroom and as part of their student profile, take notes on what development phase they most express their behavior and learning in. Then focus on planning the classes around that neurological and behavioral development. This will help students go through all of their development phases in natural order to them and helps them evolve into fully developed and integrated human beings.

To be more thorough, the development to fully developed individual related to maturation phases is supported by well accepted modern development theories (Piaget, Kohlberg, Gibbs, Loevinger)


Age Brain Maturation Cognitive Development (Piaget) Moral Development (Kohlberg) Moral and existential Development (Gibbs) Ego development (Loevinger) Primary Motivators
0-2 Neural Exuberance and Myelination of Sensory and Motor Areas (Behavior/senses) Sensori-motor Preconventional:
1st stage: Punishment and obedience
Moral Development
Stage 1: Centrations on salient features
E1 – Symbiotic
Biological Senses, hunger, thirst, arousal
2-7 Maximum Number of Connections (desire) Pre-operations 2nd stage: Instrumental purpose and exchange 2nd stage: Pragmatic exchanges E2 – Impulsive Behavioral Towards pleasure/avoid pain
7-11 Corpus callosum myelinates and pruning begins around age 10 (mind) Concrete Operations Conventional:
3rd stage: Interpersonal accord (college)
3rd stage: Ideal moral reciprocity
E3 – Self-Protective Social Role models, or group pressure
11-18 Prefrontal connections begin to myelinate at age 12, and pruning finishes at age 18 (Intellect) Formal Operations 4th stage: Societal accord and systems maintenance (college) 4th stage: Systems Conventional
E4 – Conformist
E5 – Self-Aware
E6 – Conscientious
Cognitive Attention, meaning, cognitive dis-equilibrium, curiosity
18-25 Prefrontal myelination finishes (Feeling and intuition) Post-Formal Operations Postconventional:
5th stage: Social contract (Highschool)
E7 – individualistic
E8 – Autonomous
Affective Feel good/bad, threat to security, meaning in  life
25 Experience continues to shape brain circuits throughout one’s life span. (Individual Ego) Post-Formal Operations 6th stage: universal ethical principles (Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela) Existential development phase: Philosophical reflection on ethics and purpose of life  E9 – Construct aware (Cook-Greuter) Conative Goals, control of life, will
Techniques such as meditation practices are needed to promote post-symbolic experiences  (Universal Ego) Post-Formal Operations E10 – Integrative or unitive Spiritual Understand purpose of life


For more on what motivates us to learn, read my paper on Neurophysiology of Development and Learning: Learning Motivators of School Children.



Reflections on this web site

Initially, I created this web site to respond to the need to present the material for my students in a convenient way. My first two lessons were on under an easy URL Soon (the same day) it became apparent that I would be spending much more time teaching, and need arose for me to be able to present an easy way for students to access the material. Thus was born inspired by my students who started to call me Professor T. My last name is not easy to pronouce and I have lots of education. That’s where it comes from.

This web site became a hub to collect my lesson plans, relevant links and materials for my students to review. (and for my professors review them also) It also became a two way communication methods, to respect the modern times and evolution of educational systems in the modern times.

I think this web site is very functional and serves the purpose well: Material is well structured and presented clearly. Lessons and exercises are online so students can review them at their own pace. Different modalities and ways to acquire knowledge are used in the lessons. I would like it to be even more radically interactive and exciting, but given what I needed to work with, I think this web site is a success. And the success is in students learning which is a fulfillment to all of us that teach.



Curriculum meets these standards

Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), 2000.
NCTM Algebra Standard for Grades 6‐8
NCTM Algebra Standard for Grades 9‐12
Iowacore Standard for grades 9-12
CCadditionsfinal12-2 (1)
NCTM Geometry Standard for grades 9-12


Reflections on my portfolio

The main idea of this portfolio is to explore and present my teaching philosophy, theory and practices I endorse and practice. My intention is to take what has learned in the education field and apply understanding of neurophysiology, psychology and developmental theories in conjunction with my background in technology, business and mathematics in order to create a teaching system that works in accordance with the 21st century world and it’s latest inventions as well as keeping the ancient parts of our brains happy, so we can develop higher brain functioning and become fully integrated self-realized individuals.

My core thesis is that the entire experience learning should be on the 21st century, rather than 20th century style lecturing paradigm. Now, the academic world has evolved to understand human behavior and needs. Many industries have learned to leverage this understanding. Industries are driven by results and they implement only what adds to the bottom line. Education in America for the most part, however, is way behind in implementing the latest development in pedagogy. If America saw the importance of education, they could start to understand it and support it appropriately and get results similar to countries like Finland.

While majority of American Education remains on the level it is, this portfolio is built to function primarily within the current educational paradigm. This portfolio attempts to not only exceed the expectations of teachers in this educational system, but it also attempts to bring the teaching and learning experience to the appropriate level of 21st century. I am very happy how much I can show 21st century understanding, skills and technologies in this portfolio. In my future work, I intend to go even more to the 21st century paradigm, still satisfying the 20th century needs to the degree they are demanded of me.

Another core idea I present in this portfolio is to correlate the developmental phases with corresponding educational phases in schools. In my opinion, teachers should understand the development phases and how most of the challenges in the classroom are actually opportunities to give guidance to help children evolve to the next level in their development. From the experience, statistics and studies, we realize that there is much more alignment to do. Particularly, if we consider individual differences in development, the teaching methods and classroom management needs to be much more differentiated than what we currently we find, allowing for more effective individualized instruction and greater choice by students, according to their abilities and interests. I’m attempting to contribute to this alignment in this portfolio.

Having gone through the best highest scoring system in the world (PISA / McKinsey) and complemented that with consciousness based education – and variety of open minded educational innovations, I still think education is far from where it should be. This portfolio attempts to lessen the gap between ideal 21st century education and what is currently there. Even after this portfolio, there are lots of additional technologies and strategies I would like to incorporate in my teaching.

In my teaching/training/coaching/mentoring career, I intend to build a proper student profile first thing to consider their strengths and weaknesses, learning styles, and what makes them get excited about learning. I intend to do this by recognizing learning patterns and implementing suitable strategies. Content, learning methods and classroom management will be customized around that. There many  ways to learn mathematics and other sets of concepts and skills. Utilizing what students naturally use is one of the best approaches to make the learning experience as comfortable, fun and extensive as possible. One of the best signs of success is to get a student so enthusiastic that they spends extra time on the topic because they love it. This is something I have experienced, experience, have seen in my students and will trigger as much as possible in the future.

While I feel that many aspects of my teaching plans bring in real-life relevance, encourage independent thought, and demand creative and evaluative skills. An example would be the zero and negative exponent lecture which is pure mathematics, but I managed to make it relevant in the real life. I look forward to using my creativity in the future in making relevant connections to bridge the abstract and mundane.

Naturally we need to meet the standards such as Common Core standards. These standards will play a foundational role in my curriculum design as a basis of semester, unit and lesson goals(see lesson plans for an example). However, teaching methods can re-create a world of learning around these goals that work much better in the 21st century. Technology is only one part of 21st century learning. Another crucial part is the new understanding of human psyche, motivation and development of brain physiology at early age as well as later when becoming a high performing adult.

I intend to lead my students through an a-ha or “whoa” experience, which is what naturally happens during an a-ha experience characterized by alpha brain waves. To make this happen, we teachers sometimes need to be well prepared story tellers, psychologists and stand-up comedians. Putting on a professional production every day pays off in results. If learning is based on a peak experience, we can also get the results we are looking for.

For reflecting on the results, see what my students and co-operative students say.


My Theory of Teaching

Introduction to My Theory of Teaching

This article is a summary of my approach to teaching. It contains principles, theories, strategies, and behaviors that I have integrated and will integrate into my teaching. The purpose of this essay is to weave together ideas, which explain how I approach my work and what one would be likely to see if one were to watch me teach. The main idea of teaching is to inspire self-motivated growth through realizations, resulting from understanding and relating to the students and their needs and strengths while conveying the required material.

Clear, profound ideas

My theory of teaching incorporates these ideas at its foundation: I recommend the teacher to…

  1. Create a professional relationship with the students.
  2. Understand the students and trigger their intrinsic motivation.
  3. Condition learning through channels students are familiar with and those that work best for them.
  4. Present and cover required content in a way that is easy and fun to absorb.
  5. Inspire to apply, express and experience knowledge in various ways in order to build and condition ownership.

Create a professional relationship with the students

By building relationships with the students, the teacher can create positive learning results and make the path much more enjoyable for both the teacher and the students. Most of the classroom management problems will go away when the relationships are properly built. It is important to know that the relationship between student and teacher is professional in nature. It is not a friendship. The teacher needs to set expectations or rules up front on how the class works and convey that deviation from the rules has consequences. Clarity with this alone will solve most of the problems. With clear rules, classroom management does not take as much attention. As a result, the main focus can be on presenting and absorbing knowledge. For example, I like to begin any teaching by discussing with my students what rules should govern our classroom.

Understand the students and trigger their intrinsic motivation

In order to foster a proper teacher-student relationship, it is important for the teacher to pay attention to the students’ strengths, interests, and areas of growth, and express a genuine interest in them. Interests can be used to trigger intrinsic motivation. Strengths can help find suitable learning modalities. Weaknesses are good to know to work around them or through them. Understanding students establishes receptivity which is necessary for learning(Maharishi’s 5 fundamentals of learning). For example, I like to consider different learning styles I have observed in my students when presenting content and when planning and conducting exercises.

Condition learning through channels they are familiar with and work best

If students can’t focus on the material, this seems to work every time: By using the identified strengths and by working around the identified weaknesses, students’ attention can be directed toward learning experiences and achieve the goals set by the standards. By leveraging learning patterns that are already working, students get success experiences, become better learners and can overcome the challenges they might have had in other learning patterns. For example, I like to provide exercises using technologies students are already familiar with. In another example, I directed a very restless class by using their restlessness in a creative way. I gave them a computer to follow my lecture with. As a result, they could use their restless energy in going through the course material. In yet another example, I provided different avenues for learning. YouTube videos, presentation, work on the white board (to which most of the students were conditioned to), homework, and teamwork. Depending on the class and how the students were used to behaving in the class, I used those modalities and behaviors as a basis for emphasis in my teaching style for these particular sets of students.

Present/cover required content in a way that is easy and fun to absorb

Disciplinary standards need to be met. Teaching methods can be student centered while fulfilling the requirements set by the state standards. Teaching methods that consider learner differences can make the learning fun while fulfilling the standards and covering all of the content students need to learn. For example, I like to use YouTube videos relevant to the topics defined by standards.

Inspire to apply, express, and experience knowledge in various ways to build and condition ownership

Owning the knowledge is important because it changes the way we view the world and our lives. In my web-article Neurophysiology of Progress and Success I covered how all learning, actions and experiences rewire the brain for new kind of perception of the world. In accordance with Maharishi’s principles of ideal teaching, but enhanced by myself to fit the larger scientific framework, the sequence of conditioning for rewiring the brain is: hear it, say it, write it, express it, and experience it. This sequence of conditioning starts from sensory perception areas of the brain, moving through linguistic areas of the brain that control patterns and ending up with most concrete physical motion. Thus, recommendations of the principles of teaching helps to condition and re-wire the brain for a new kind of perception and experience of the world. Therefore, it’s not only about the memory, it’s also about getting the learning to “muscle memory”. Conditioning not only changes thinking patterns, but it also changes patterns of behavior.

For instance, I like to let students create projects where they present the knowledge of a subject matter in various ways, conditioning their learning into an ownership. I try to incorporate elements of research, teamwork, writing, teaching, expressing and experiencing the topic.

Example of this example would be a student who designs and makes a video on Roman Empire’s cultural elements. They will first research what they are, what their relevance is, find a way to represent it, consult the teacher and the team in the process. In the end he or she will present verbally what the presentation is about and may even request other students to do some writing work. The video itself will be an experience. In this example, both the presenting student and the other students went through series of experiences, cultivating different parts of the brain, conditioning learning and owning the knowledge, in total alignment with the neurological re-wiring discussed in this chapter.

The results of my theory of teaching

If these steps are followed, the learning process is driven by motivation and inspiration. Consequently knowledge and skills become conditioned as part of students’ perception and experience of life, increasing quality of life. The best learning alters one’s view of the world with new perspectives and details. It’s not just memorizing facts; it’s a life changing experience. Literally. For the applied proof of these theories, see the evidence.

Supporting theories

The above paragraphs describe and summarize the core strategy of my approach to teaching. I have integrated several methodologies, principles and applied theories that support my core strategy. These include:

  1. Maharishi’s 5 fundamentals of teaching and principles of ideal teaching.
  2. Principles, strategies and behaviors from Love and Logic.
  3. I also like involving developmental theories, need structures, motivational theories and other material from theorists like Maslow, Robbins, Brizendine, Travis, Kelly, Lipsitz, Jones, Piaget, Kohlberg, Gibbs and Loevinger.

You can find more details on my teaching principles in my comprehensive classroom management plan, scientific research paper and a website post I authored.

In my theory of teaching, you will find dozens of theories that I have integrated into it, and will integrate into my approach to teaching. I love how all of these theories and principles weave together to create a framework for teaching through which my students can gain most benefit. Understanding that consciousness and intelligence are at the basis of all knowledge and behavior made it easier to integrate various strategies and theories to support more holistic approach to teaching and learning.

In my own neurophysiology and experience, these theories and strategies have positively altered my brain and my behavior. Now I view the world with more depth and behave more effectively in the world. I truly believe I have become a real-world example of what I teach. Knowledge is alive in me: I live it, I breathe, and I own it.

My focus and intention as a teacher is to share this approach teaching and experience of learning so students can benefit from that in their own lives and careers. This is not boasting, just a statement of intention of the positive result and effect I intend to have on my students.

Thank you Fairfield High School

My month of observing and teaching in Mrs. Myers’ Mathematics classes in Fairfield High School is over now. I enjoyed the experience. It was fun.

Special thanks to

  • Mrs. Myers and her classes I taught in
    • 3rd, 4th and 8th hour Algebra classes
    • 1st, 2nd and 5th hour Geometry classes
  • Professor Chris Jones
  • Mrs. Higgins and her PreCalculus and Applied Mathematics classes
  • Everyone else I interacted with and all the other classes I observed

Enjoy a short video on the experience:

All the best!
Eero Tunkelo
a.k.a. Mr. T a.k.a. Professor T a.k.a. Arrow