Culture Building Resources

MSC 2018 Featured Session #67: Handouts

Brain-Based Strategies to Build Trust in Your School Culture

Why do people trust each other? And when they do, exactly what happens inside the brain? As Neuroscientists learn more about the chemical nature of human behavior, they are learning that trust is a drug. Or rather, a cocktail of drugs in our brain. Their studies show that the relationship between the amount of certain brain chemicals and trustworthiness is so exact, it can be used to predict the level of trust in any relationship. Neuroscientists are unlocking the links between our brain and our relationships. They are learning that there really is a “Chemistry of Culture”.

ICLE Senior Advisor Jim Warford has led change at the school, district, and state level. He has inspired and helped guide many Model Schools. He has been studying the brain-based strategies that Model Schools have used to create a positive culture. You will leave this session with specific brain-based strategies you can use to build trust in your school culture!

Jim Warford Blog Post – If Your Culture is Broken, You Can’t Fix Anything Else:

Empathy is on the decline:

How to Create Empathy at School:

Can you trust your eyes?

Trust Article + Videos

Elements of Trust:

More Videos:
Heider-Simmel Test on Vimeo:

Interpreting Heider-Simmel Results:

The Five Levels of Effective Listening:

Two Active Empathy Exercises:

Exercise #1 – Our judgments are not facts
Our thoughts and judgments can have a strong influence on how we feel and what we do. Often thoughts and judgments are automatically. It is possible to take distance from your thoughts and judgments when you are conscious about them in your head and then move the focus on the breathing and your experiences in the current moment (Beuningen, 2011).
Through this you can experience that you can think something else than your previous
thought or judgment. This can help free you from old patterns of how you were thinking and those who come automatically.
Most important is that we realize that: Thoughts are merely events in our head; thoughts are not facts, and that we are more than our thoughts.
We can get a grip on our thoughts by focusing our attention on it. This can help to reduce our identification with it. “I am not my thought/judgment”. There are some automatically not-helping thought patterns who can bring our mood down. Knowledge about it can help noticing thought patterns and to practice in more correct and effective thoughts.

Exercise #2:
Try to get comfortable and close your eyes. Slowly breath in and out three times. Take some time to notice the thoughts or judgments which are in your head right at this moment. Try to imagine that you are in a movie theater and looking at a white screen. Wait until thoughts are coming up. What kind of thoughts are these? What happens with them?
We are looking at our thoughts and suddenly we are caught in the middle of it. When we are caught in it, we forget that they are just an appearance! It is astonishing to notice how much control unwishful thoughts may have.
The influence thoughts have on our life depends on how much control we give them. If we succeed in keeping distance to our thoughts and judgments, the control will be less. The challenge is to be aware of our thoughts and judgments, to see them clear. At that moment we have the choice: We act or we don’t. (Beuningen, 2011).
Closure: To end this last exercise of this module you can ask the following questions: To what extent did you succeed in keeping distance from your unpleasant thoughts and judgments? –
What do you personally need, to find distance? To what extent do you think you will be better in it by practicing?

Bill Dagget White Paper: Success Beyond State Tests

Bill Daggett White Paper: Innovating for Impact

Dr. Richard Jones White Paper: Quad D Leadership:

Growth Mindset Checkup:

Paul J. Zak, The Neuroscience of Trust, Harvard Business Review, Jan-Feb 2017
Joshua O. S. Goh, Eric D. Leshikar, Bradley P. Sutton, Jiat Chow Tan, Sam K. Y. Si3, Andrew C. Hebrank and Denise C. Park,Culture Differences in Neural Processing, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, June 2010

Paul J. Zak, The Neuroscience of Trust, Harvard Business Review, Jan-Feb 2017

Christopher Bergland, The Neuroscience of Savoring Positive Emotions: Sustained ventral striatum activation is linked to savoring positive emotions, Psychology Today, 2015

Your brain on culture – American Psychological Association, November 2010

Monitor on Psychology Chinese, English Speakers Do Math Differently, Yiyuan Tang of Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China. Associated Press, 6/26/2006

Nalini Ambady, Culture shapes a mesolimbic response to signals of dominance and
subordination that associates with behavior, NeuroImage, Vol. #47, 1 August 2009