Education Posts

Connecting Brain Science and Socio-Emotional Safety to Impact Academic Achievement

Connecting Brain Science and Socio-Emotional Safety to Impact Academic Achievement

By Flip Flippen

9 years ago




(0:45) The Biggest Building on the Campus is the Library
(2:30) The Amygdala’s Reaction to Stress
(3:30) How Stress Affects Students
(6:00) Connections and Predictability

Have you ever had a student in your school who struggled with learning? I’ve been there. Many teachers’ reaction is to tell them to just “study harder.” But you and I both know there’s more to it than a lack of effort.

Hi there, Education Heroes! I’m Dr. Debbie Emery, Leadership Process Executive at The Flippen Group, and today I want to share with you a talk by our founder, Flip Flippen. Flip is a psychotherapist and New York Times best-selling author, and in this talk with educators he explains how the brain is affected by stress and how that influences learning. Enjoy this talk, and I’ll be back in a few minutes! TWO Important Structures in Your Brain

  1. The Hippocampus: It’s important because it is in charge of short-term processes related to memory. The hippocampus is where learning takes place; you want information to make it to the hippocampus because you’re going to want it back on a test.
  2. The Amygdala: This is an important structure because it has everything to do with stress. As stress levels rise in a person, the amygdala sends out neurons and dendrites throughout your brain.


When you encounter stress, your amygdala grows to help you pick up and anticipate more incoming stress. As the amygdala grows, the hippocampus starts shrinking to compensate. However, if you remove the stress, the amygdala starts to shrink, and the hippocampus starts to grow again. At a biological level, the only way we can get children in a place where they can actually learn is first to make them feel safe.

Well, I hope you enjoyed Flip’s talk on how a low-stress environment can free students to learn and retain information, something all our teachers should know!

If you found this talk helpful, please do us a favor? Click to share it with your friends using the social buttons below. Then scroll down to the bottom of this post and answer this question: What stressors have you seen in schools and how do they affect the students?

Let’s continue the conversation below. What impact has stress had on your students and their ability to learn? What steps have you taken to create a safe learning environment? What has worked well for you? What strategies didn’t work so well? We’d love to hear from you, so share your thoughts and comments below.    


Flip Flippen

Whether working with Olympic athletes, professional money managers, or military leaders, Flip Flippen’s mission is the same: “To build relationships and processes that bring out the best in people.” He has applied this goal with hundreds of thousands of individuals, providing executive development and organizational consulting in four sectors: education, corporate, sports, and government. With an emphasis on changing behaviors and attitudes that stand in the way of success, he has helped organizations – from small rural school districts to Fortune 500 companies – achieve dramatic improvement in performance, leadership, trust, and productivity. Flip is the founder and president of the Flippen Group, started in 1990, voted the number two company to work for in Texas by Texas Monthly magazine. Today, the Flippen Group is one of the largest educator training companies and one of the fastest-growing leadership development organizations in North America. Their breakthrough educational processes and curricula are in use at thousands of school districts and campuses nationwide.

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