George Lucas Educational Foundation

Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers

Authors, Professional Developers, Co-Developers of Graduate Programs Applying Mind, Brain, and Education Science

Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers are internationally recognized experts in the domain of brain-based teaching and leading (mind, brain, and education) in both professional development and teacher education. Wilson began her career as a classroom teacher and realized many of her students were not benefiting from standard teaching practices. Looking for solutions, she became a school psychologist. She then conducted over 1,000 diagnostic assessments and discovered that the majority of students had the potential to be achieving more academically, but had not been taught the cognitive and affective skills they needed to do so. Wilson then returned to the classroom to co-teach, with a focus on guiding children to learn and use cognitive, affective, and metacognitive strategies. The positive impact of that approach led her to seek out opportunities to share with other teachers the implications of mind, brain, and education research to improve student learning and achievement. A longtime professional developer and teacher educator, Wilson serves as head of academic affairs for BrainSMART, Inc. and the Center for Innovative Education and Prevention (CIEP).

Marcus Conyers originally founded BrainSMART, Inc. and developed the BrainSMART program for leading, teaching, and learning. A doctoral researcher at the University of Westminster, he explores processes for improving teaching practice by applying implications of mind, brain, and education science. Conyers is a member of the International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology and the American Educational Research Association and of AERA’s Brain, Neuroscience and Education SIG. He has led three-year initiatives with the Florida Department of Education and with Florida Atlantic University, the latter supported by an Annenberg Challenge Grant Award. His audiences have included ministers of education in South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Ontario, Canada. Conyers serves as Director of Communications for the Center for Innovative Education and Prevention.

Wilson and Conyers are the authors of more than 40 books and professional articles for educators, including,  Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains: Metacognitive Strategies, Activities, and Lesson Ideas (ASCD, 2016), Smarter Teacher Leadership: Neuroscience and the Power of Purposeful Collaboration (Teachers College Press, 2016), Positively Smarter: Science and Strategies for Increasing Happiness, Achievement, and Well-Being (Wiley Blackwell, 2015), and Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice (Teachers College Press, 2013). Wilson and Conyers' articles have been featured in Kappan and Educational Leadership with ASCD.

The team has led professional development for more than 160,000 educators in 35 states and at various locations around the world, and they are co-developers of the curriculum for the Master of Science and Educational Specialist degree programs with majors in Brain-Based Teaching and Reading and Literacy. Their higher education curriculum in teacher education also includes courses at the doctoral level. Today, graduates from programs in Brain-Based Teaching based on the curriculum Wilson and Conyers co-developed are supporting student achievement in 47 U.S. states, Canada, Japan, South Korea, China, the United Arab Emirates, Bermuda, Malaysia, Vietnam, Guam, France, and Germany.

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  • Brain-Based Learning

    Building a Metacognitive Classroom

    Teaching students about neuroplasticity and the brain’s potential can have a positive effect on their self-perceptions and expectations for success in school.
  • Student Engagement

    Guiding Students to Be Independent Learners

    Three strategies for helping students become self-motivating and take charge of their learning.
  • Literacy

    A Skill Strong Readers Share

    Metacognition helps readers analyze texts as they read, and it’s a skill you can teach your students.
  • Brain-Based Learning

    Strategies for Students With Scattered Minds

    Teachers can help students strengthen their brain's executive function with "workouts" in which they practice pausing, prioritizing, improving their working memory, and mapping their options.
  • Creativity

    A Powerful Way to End the School Year

    Year mapping allows students to see what they’ve learned in your class, and it’s a great resource for your incoming class.
  • Growth Mindset

    Helping Struggling Students Build a Growth Mindset

    Veteran researchers present five strategies—like maintaining success files and allowing choice—to help struggling students develop a positive attitude needed for success.
  • Brain-Based Learning

    The Teenage Brain Is Wired to Learn—So Make Sure Your Students Know It

    Thanks to the wonders of neuroplasticity, adolescents are primed to improve their performance in school—and beyond. Here’s how to help.
  • Teaching Strategies

    Smart Strategies for Student Success

    Five techniques you can use with students in any class to help boost their long-term learning outcomes.
  • Teacher Wellness

    Feeding the Teacher's Brain: Nutrition Tips for Busy Educators

    By rejecting persistent nutrition myths and starting the day with a healthy meal, teachers can improve their own performance while modeling brain-friendly habits for their students.
  • Brain-Based Learning

    Metacognition: The Gift That Keeps Giving

    By teaching students to "drive their own brain" through metacognition, we provide a concrete way to guide them think about how they can best learn.
  • Character Education

    4 Proven Strategies for Teaching Empathy

    Help your students understand the perspectives of other people with these tried-and-tested methods.
  • Brain-Based Learning

    Training the Brain to Listen: A Practical Strategy for Student Learning and Classroom Management

    Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers, brain-based teaching program developers and authors, explain how the brain processes auditory information and introduce the HEAR strategy as a way to help students develop their listening skills.
  • Teacher Wellness

    Positive Strategies to Avoid Stress, Anxiety, and Burnout

    Avoid burnout through positive self-talk and self-reflection, managing your workload, embracing the little joys of teaching, becoming more resilient, and temporarily setting your problems aside.
  • Brain-Based Learning

    Simple Ways to Help Young Kids Develop Self-Control

    Here’s how you can help kids—your students and your own children—build skills that are critical for regulating their emotions and behavior.
  • Brain-Based Learning

    Strategies for Strengthening the Brain’s Executive Functions

    Introduce students to the concept of executive functions, put it to work, referring frequently to these learning tools in positive, productive classroom interactions.

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George Lucas Educational Foundation