Edgemont School staff attends ‘Emotional Poverty’ training

Photo by Garland Wright/Fall River County Herald-Star

Bethany Tucker from the Ruby Payne Company presented an “Emotional Poverty” workshop to the Edgemont Staff on Friday, January 13.


By Garland Wright

EDGEMONT – Edgemont staff attended a professional development titled “Emotional Poverty” on Jan. 13, 2023. Guest speaker, Bethany Tucker, offered training on behalf of the Ruby Payne Company geared at providing an understanding of the origins of anger, anxiety, and avoidance in students. Students face unprecedented challenges such as a post-Covid world, political and economic turmoil, and at times, unlimited screentime depending on individual family stances on technology. The “Emotional Poverty” training is geared at addressing the emotional responses students have to these global issues.

During the “Emotional Poverty” professional development, Edgemont staff explored the brain science behind violence and anger. Staff learned about brain regulation and the dangers and consequences of students’ constant gaming and cell phone use outside of school. Essentially, computer and cell phone games are deliberately engineered to be addictive and to produce the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine. The dopamine released from playing video games is similar to the highs produced by stimulant drugs such as amphetamine or methylphenidate. With such positive hormones emitted from gaming, it becomes easy to realize why gaming is so addictive. As a result, the brain self-regulates and compensates by entering a time of anger/ depressive hormone release. This is why children and adolescents lash out in anger or depression once their gaming and screen devices and taken away.

Since children have greater access to screen time and gaming than ever, educators must adjust to combat the emotional backlash of students who utilize screens in exorbitant amounts outside of school hours. While educators cannot control what happens outside of the classroom, they can control the reaction within the school and can educate students and parents alike on the brain science behind gaming. One recommendation was to encourage a good night’s sleep as this helps people flush the toxins in their brains from the day’s work. It is a reset for the brain’s chemistry and essential for preparing the brain for a day’s work.

The “Emotional Poverty” training also helps educators manage the “classroom dance” with tools to motivate good behavior. Understanding the motivation behind poor behavior is essential to develop tools to change students’ responses. Edgemont staff learned that emotions are processed 200 to 5,000 times faster than once thought. This is important because reasoning skills are slower to be realized in the mind of children than emotions and therefore, staff should expect emotional responses from students from time to time. In stressful scenarios, emotion arrives first at the scene, with reasoning second. This explains why sometimes, people react in unreasonable ways in times of duress.

“I was surprised to learn about the ‘nothing box’ males have. After the day was finished, I texted my guy friends and asked them, ‘Do you really have a ‘nothing box’ where you think about nothing while fishing or watching television?’” stated Calyn Degnan, current Edgemont Teacher Intern. 

Degnan is referring to Mark Gungor’s research on men’s brains versus women’s brains. Essentially the study states that men possess a mental “box” in which there is nothing, meaning that men can rest their brains and think about nothing but the task at hand. Women, on the other hand, do not possess this “nothing box.” Their brains are focused on some thought, even when doing menial tasks such as watching television, fishing, or folding laundry. In essence, when men are fishing, they can often do just that and focus solely on fishing. In contrast, women fishing may be mentally weighing on conflicts from the week, planning the grocery list, or pondering any of the other million thoughts that go through women’s brains. This is important to note because it helps inform staff to respond appropriately when considering gender. Ultimately, the day boiled down to providing strategies rooted in brain science to help staff manage behaviors and conflicts.

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St.  Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
Send news to: news.frcherald@gmail.com Send Ad requests to: ads.frcherald@gmail.com