Thursday, March 22, 2012

Whole Brain Teaching Rakes in the Shekels

Due to a reader's comment ("Whole Brain Teaching is FREE!"), I've decided to collect articles about the money being made by Chris Biffle and his Whole Brain Teaching system.

First up, I've posted on this subject twice:

Whole Brain Teaching for Profit

There's Gold in Them Thar Brains

Next, two commenters, Anonymous and Another Hole Brain Director, have chased down the following links: (Thanks to both of you for your efforts!):

2011 - 2012: Desert Sands Unified School District:
Provide Staff Training and Support on Whole Brain Teaching ... Chris Biffle, Consultant; $6,000.00 (page 7)
Nov. 2011: Lancaster School District:
Chris Biffle will teach Whole Brain Teaching to 3d Grade Teachers for $2,500.00 (item 41)
Oct. 2010 - March 2011: Gilroy Unified School District:
Contract not to exceed $10,000 for Chris Biffle to teach Whole Brain Teaching
April 16, 2011 & May 7, 2011: Lemon Grove School District:
2 one-day Whole Brain Teaching seminars: $3,700.00 to Service Provider Chris Biffle (pg. 15)
July 2009: San Bernardino City Unified School District:
Chris Biffle to present workshop on "Power Teaching Challenging Students" — not to exceed $1,500.00
Aug. 2009: Hemet Unified School District:
Approval to Hire Christopher Biffle; not to exceed $12,500.00 (item K-23)
Aug. 2008: Hemet Unified School District:
Approval to Authorize Hiring Chris Biffle; not to exceed $5,500 (item K-49)
Feb. 2008: San Bernardino City Unified School District:
Urbita Elementary School to hire Chris Biffle to present two two-hour workshops — not to exceed $700.00

22 comments:

  1. Let's be fair to Whole Brain Teaching for a moment.

    If Chris Biffle's goal in Whole Brain Teaching is to create a legion of wholly brain-washed receptacles of Hole-brained teachers' curricular trivia or zombies who need to be controlled 100% by a frighteningly authoritarian figure, Chris Biffle has done EXCELLENT work! Let's give the man his due!

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  2. Let him have his money as well, which he is obviously getting lots of (but he fails to say that over at WBT). By calling it FREE, he gets people to be sympathetic to his "cause". I think his followers would think quite differently if they knew this information. Kudos Fedupmom for exposing this guy.

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  3. I am confused by the reason for this post (perhaps I missed the earlier posts behind this). How do professional development workshops/conferences work in the United States? I know that all the professional development workshops in our area are paid for by our teacher's society, our school division or by teachers themselves. Many of the people that come in to hold these PD sessions have their information on blogs or websites that are offered free of charge but do pay for their services when they come in to give a formal talk. Why is it a bad thing that Chris Biffle charges schools when he comes in to do a formal talk during a PD session? Is it just because many of the things on his website are free? I feel as though people would have to be very close minded to believe that someone can devote so much time to something and not want to make ANY money at all.

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  4. Another Hole Brain DirectorMarch 26, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    Miss L, it has to do with honesty.
    It has to do with calling "Bullshit!" when you see it. In the case of talking about Whole Brain Teaching- it has to do with some of us doing all the heavy lifting for, (to be blunt)- You. If you want to use a particular behavior management method, you are the one who should be doing some honest-to-goodness research. But here, let me show you, again.

    From the Whole Brain Teaching site:

    Whole Brain Teachers of America is a grass roots, education reform movement begun in 1999 by three Yucaipa, California teachers: Chris Biffle (college), Jay Vanderfin (elementary school) and Chris Rekstad (elementary school). Since then we have been joined by a dedicated group of K-12 educators who form our Board of Directors.
    .............................
    .....All of our seminars and downloads are free. Whole Brain Teaching is a movement, not a business.

    So Miss L, please, answer this- If you know a person has lied about one thing, what would be the prudent way to treat the next thing he tells you?

    You've written Biffle's claims about brain anatomy on your site. But he's not expert on brains, right? Why would you do that?

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  5. Another Hole Brain DirectorMarch 26, 2012 at 11:13 PM

    Josh Marowitz, point taken, sir.

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  6. There's definitely an honesty issue here, since Chris Biffle promotes WBT as "a movement, not a business."

    I think there's also an ethical issue. All the contracts I've seen so far go directly to Chris Biffle. Meanwhile, he's put together a small army of unpaid followers who contribute many hours of work making videos and writing blogs to promote WBT. Biffle is profiting off of the unpaid work of idealistic fans.

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  7. Yep. How about the ethics of teachers who request their districts to make it rain money down on Biffle as part of their "internship" in Whole Brain Teaching?


    There is something rotten in the state of Denmark.

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  8. There is nothing wrong with making money, but when your motto is we're a movement, not a bussiness, something is not fitting together.

    I've seen (I admit it) one of his videos where people are asked to send in $5.18 to get professional developement and help pay for the site. Excuse me? If your "non bussiness" is getting thousands of dollars for every workshop, why do you need people to send in money to help pay for the site?

    C'mon people, don't you see he uses the slogan "movement" to get people to the site then has them "beg" their principals to bring him to their school, where he snatches up money from them?

    If they didn't use that clever slogan, they'd be like every other education consultant and not stand out as much to teachers looking for help. It's all a ruse!

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  9. I really cannot imagine begging my principal to bring in some schmuck for a professional development. The only thing I'd ever ask for is TIME. Instead of some stupid professional development, I want TIME to plan a good lesson and thoughtfully grade my students' work.

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  10. Another Hole Brain DirectorMarch 28, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    TeacHer, are you required to attend PD workshops at your school? Does your district usually use someone within the district like a master teacher, or IT person (if it's training to use some new technology,) or outside consultants?
    How much of it has been; a total time suck from your life which you'll never get back, enlightening but could be learned in ten minutes, totally worth it?

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  11. TeacHer & Another Hole Brain Director,

    It is so disappointing to hear your reaction to PD sessions. Chris Biffle aside, do you really not enjoy the sessions that you attend or are forced to attend in your areas? One of the things that I have enjoyed most since entering the education field is attending PD sessions. We have had some great PD sessions that have not only taught me a lot but given me an opportunity to network with other educators. What would improve PD sessions in your area so that you would want to sign up and enjoy attending them?

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  12. Another Hole Brain DirectorMarch 28, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Speaking of disappointing........
    Miss L, I answered your questions in your previous comment, and asked you a couple of my own. A bit of reciprocity would be nice before you set "Chris Biffle aside."

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  13. I've enjoyed/benefitted from approximately 5% of the PD sessions I've attended in my 5-year career. Honestly, the only PD I felt was truly beneficial to my classroom are the AP trainings I've done with the College Board, and even those have their limitations. I like AP trainings DIRECTLY pertain to the classroom and things that I, the instructor, need to know to effectively teach my AP students the content that the course covers.

    Most PD is mindless drivel or information that could have been communicated in an email.

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  14. The reason I chose not to answer the questions early is because the comment itself sounded very mean-spirited and a bit defensive. (I realize it is hard to judge intent over an online comment, but that is how I interpreted it).
    I am only interested in friendly conversations back and forth and as I've mentioned on my blog a few times when people comment there, I am only an education student, not an experienced teacher or expert in any type of field so I don't feel qualified to get into any debates with anyone. If I were able to debate a topic with someone I would be happy to but until I am more knowledgeable on a subject I never want to chose sides and be unwilling to change. So I do apologize for not answering your questions earlier, I chose not to because I didn't think I would be able to answer them to a level that would satisfy you and I am not prepared to go into a debate about it. I hope you understand.
    With that in mind, here are my thoughts but keep in mind this is my personal belief as I am not qualified to justify them through any experience or years of research.

    - If I had found out someone had lied, of course I would take the next thing that person said with a grain of salt until I could justify otherwise.
    - I include information on my blog based on WBT (because it is something that I personally support) and based on information we have learned in our education classes at university

    Again, I apologize for not answering earlier. I do appreciate you answering my questions as I am just honestly curious and interested in hearing everyone opinions

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  15. Miss L, you're provocative. You've got a blog not just promoting a few Whole Brain Strategies, but actually call the thing "Whole Brain Teaching with Miss L." And You've asked readers here to come comment on it.
    You wrote, "I'm confused, what's the reason for this post?"
    though FedUpMom explicitly wrote in the first sentence, "Due to a reader's comment ("Whole Brain Teaching is FREE!"), I've decided to collect articles about the money being made by Chris Biffle and his Whole Brain Teaching system."
    Again, I believe you're baiting readers by this, "I feel as though people would have to be very close minded to believe..."
    And you write, "...If I found out someone had lied...." but then the next sentence that WBT is "something you personally support..." as if none of the other conversation had happened.
    After all your shenanigans, the cherry on top is this special status you expect for being an ed student.
    I apologize if some people's strong opinions conflict with your desire to have friendly conversations as you collect readers for your heinous blog.

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  16. I sincerely do apologize for coming across as provocative or as if I am baiting people. That is not my intent what so ever. I truly am interested in learning as much about the education field as possible and what I like about this blog is that it represents views that are often different than my own so I enjoy looking at information from different perspectives.
    Like I mentioned when I addressed, "Another Hole Brain Director" it can be difficult to judge intent over a written post as opposed to speaking face to face so I apologize if anything I have posted on here has been interpreted in a negative way because I did not mean it in that manner. Looking back at my post it was not appropriate to refer to anyone as "close-minded", I definitely should have chosen my wording more appropriately.
    You are right, my blog does support Whole Brain Teaching as it is something that has worked for me during my experience in the classroom. I did, however, title it "Miss L's Whole Brain Teaching" as I was trying to imply that it was my interpretation of Whole Brain Teaching. I know it is very subtle and probably often missed, but it was my intent to show that I enjoy the Whole Brain Teaching Strategies but I do modify them to suit my student's needs and my personal preference. I am not trying to promote WBT as the be all end all of teaching.
    I do not expect preferential treatment what so ever because I am an education student. The reason I chose to include it is because I wanted people to know that I am by no means an experienced teacher. I know that I often read different blogs and posts and wonder what type of credentials that person has so I wanted people to realize that my experience was purely from my education classes and student teaching experience as opposed to years in the field.
    Finally, I have no desire to "collect readers" for my blog. I chose to blog because it provides me with an opportunity to reflect on my experiences and network with other people interested in the education field. I have asked people from this blog to comment on some of my posts because it often presents a different perspective and I appreciate seeing different view points. It is not my intent to boost page views. I realize this is a very long comment but I did want to address all of your points.

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  17. Three guys enter, one man leaves.
    What they say- LLC-Milestones 2009: Biffle, Vanderfin and Rekstad, ask themselves ... What's our next goal? The answer: to become one of America's leaders in brain based education. And so, in the summer of '09, Power Teaching becomes Whole Brain Teaching, LLC, a limited liability corporation. New name. New vision. Same great prices!


    An outside source says-

    Whole Brain Teaching, LLC has a location in Yucaipa, CA. Active officers include James C Biffle. Whole Brain Teaching, LLC filed as a Domestic on Monday, June 08, 2009 in the state of California and is currently active. The company's line of business includes Educational Consulting.
    http://www.corporationwiki.com/California/Yucaipa/whole-brain-teaching-llc/47573174.aspx

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  18. SCF, not sure if I understand your first line....three guys enter, one man leaves. Sounds like the start of a great joke. Is WBT the joke maybe?

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  19. I think SCF is pointing out that WBT was originally designed by 3 people, Biffle, Vanderfin, and Rekstad, but at this point it's all about Biffle, and he's the one bringing in the $$$.

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  20. Vanderfin and Rekstad are both currently teaching full time. You can check out their respective blogs/webpages at http://chrisrekstad.blogspot.ca/ http://vanderfin.mentone.redlandsusd.net

    They are also both still teaching whole brain teaching seminars throughout the year. Is it possible that Biffle is, for lack of a better term, "the face of whole brain teaching" because he isn't teaching full time but they are all profiting?

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  21. I surmise Chris Biffle is the sole owner of the company. He has many independent consulting contracts with districts.
    Some conferences he has Andrea Shindler, Chris Rekstad and others doing breakout sessions while he is the headliner.
    Rekstad has headlined a few conferences or workshops.
    I imagine Biffle pays them all a decent wage and per diem when they work these conferences, but they serve at his pleasure.
    Only a couple of years ago, they recruited people by offering an easy path to "Become a Power Teaching Trainer."
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/13884530/Power-Teachers-Training-Manual

    The impression was that they would soon be in charge of seminars and workshops in their geographic vicinity. Remember all those "Directors?" (North Carolina Director Jeff Battle's pathetic account of begging himself into a spot at a teaching conference. http://www.wholebrainteaching.com/General-Education/9828-WBT-Off-the-Cuff.html )

    Yet we find Biffle owns the company. Biffle has the facebook- pretty funny, he writes about himself in the third person there.
    Biffle is the one hired all over the country.
    Folks, it's Whole Biffle Teaching, again and again.

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  22. For the record, Vanderfin left WBT a couple of years ago.

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