The Polyvagal Path to Joyful Learning: Transforming Classrooms One Nervous System at a Time (Paperback)

The Polyvagal Path to Joyful Learning: Transforming Classrooms One Nervous System at a Time By Debra Em Wilson Cover Image

The Polyvagal Path to Joyful Learning: Transforming Classrooms One Nervous System at a Time (Paperback)


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The optimal state for learning is one of safety, connection, motivation, and engagement.

Every student and teacher is different, but there’s one thing each has in common: a responsive nervous system ready for action. Whether it’s a fight breaking out on the playground, a difficult conversation with a parent, or an impromptu fire drill, understanding how the nervous system responds can help keep teachers and students on an even keel.

Polyvagal Theory (PVT) has had a tremendous impact on the mental health field, shedding light on how the nervous system predictably moves between different states in response to changing situations. School consultant Debra Em Wilson introduces PVT to educators and shows how using PVT-guided strategies can help create optimal learning environments. When school staff understand the role of the nervous system in learning, they can better help students develop the skills leading to increased resilience, adaptability, and flexibility: essential qualities for social, emotional, and academic success.

Dr. Debra Em Wilson is a veteran teacher, reading specialist, and educational consultant. She earned her doctorate degree from the University of Southern Queensland and an MA in education from Fresno State University. Wilson resides in Oro Valley, Arizona.

Product Details ISBN: 9781324030522
ISBN-10: 1324030526
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: February 14th, 2023
Pages: 176
Language: English
Debra Em Wilson’s interpretation of Dr. Porges’s Polyvagal Theory, with analogies such as leaky boats, car alarms, and loaded backpacks, neatly clarifies the seven polyvagal principles. With this book, teachers will be equipped to get in sync with their challenging students and to transform their classrooms into joyful learning centers.
— Carol Stock Kranowitz, author of The Out-of-Sync Child

Debra Em Wilson has written a thoughtful, helpful guide to the ways in which we ‘think with our bodies.’ Teachers, administrators, and parents can all benefit from reading Wilson's informed and insightful book.
— Annie Murphy Paul, author of The Extended Mind

At last, the science and practice of Polyvagal Theory clarified and adapted for the educational setting, which needs it more than ever. This book will be a gift to therapists, educators, and most of all students for years to come! I look forward to referencing this book again and again.
— Dr. Christopher Willard, faculty, Harvard Medical School, author of Growing Up Mindful

This is a truly powerful book. . . . What struck me most is that many of our efforts to change organizations stay at the cognitive level. Wilson makes the case that embodied learning needs to occur.
— Professor Sohail Inayatullah, UNESCO Chair in Futures Studies, Sejahtera Centre for Sustainability and Humanity, Malaysia and College of Education, Tamkang University

Debra Wilson does a wonderful job of bringing the concepts of safety, regulation, and relationship to the forefront for teachers, counselors, and parents. . . . [Her book] is a must-read for anyone who has children or works with children in any capacity.
— Stephen J. Terrell, PsyD, coauthor of Nurturing Resilience: Helping Clients Move Forward from Developmental Trauma, founder of Austin Attachment and Counseling Center

If you strive to be a trauma-sensitive practitioner, and you believe in the power of relationships in the classroom, this book will reaffirm your vision and sense of agency…. Wilson’s practical anecdotes, metaphors, diagrams, and accessible writing make her guide highly readable and relevant.
— Greater Good Magazine