How Mental Bandwidth is Depleted by Poverty, Racism, and other “Differentisms” and How We can Help Students (and ourselves) Recover

Friday, October 11, 2019, 8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK
Nigh University Center


Deadline to register
Early Bird Rate: September 11, 2019
Regular Rate: October 11, 2019

Dr. Cia Verschelden 
VP of Academic & Student Affairs, Malcolm X College 
Author of Bandwidth Recovery

content.jpgThe cognitive resources for learning of many children and adults, including our students and ourselves, are being diminished by the negative effects of persistent poverty and economic insecurity, and discrimination and hostility against some groups based on race, class, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, and other aspects of difference. Members of these groups systematically experience conditions in their lives that result in chronic stress and, therefore, decreased physical and mental health. The costs of the many kinds of scarcity – belonging, money, health, respect, safety, affirmation, choices, – is seriously reduced “mental bandwidth,” the cognitive and emotional resources needed for making good decisions, learning, healthy relationships, and more. In addition to the day-to-day stresses mentioned above, we also recognize that increasing economic inequality and adverse childhood experiences contribute to bandwidth depletion, leaving people less able to function at their full potential. This understanding changes the question from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” or “What is happening to you?” There things we can do on our campuses and in our classrooms to help students (and ourselves) regain the bandwidth we all need not only to survive but to thrive?

Participants will understand that:

• Multitasking isn’t a thing: attentional resources.
• Persistent economic insecurity – scarcity - depletes mental bandwidth.
• There are many other kinds of scarcity - respect, dignity, safety, belonging, etc.
• Psycho-social underminers, including stereotype/identity threat, belonging uncertainty, microaggressions, vicarious racism, and adverse childhood experiences, result in diminished bandwidth for our students.

We will learn about and practice several interventions designed to help students recover bandwidth, beginning with a strengths perspective about what skills and abilities they are bringing to the table – “funds of knowledge.” The interventions include values affirmation, connecting the known to the unknown, growth mindset and neurobics, and high-hope syllabi

Participants will:

• Understand that students have “funds of knowledge” and that beginning with those strengths will help them recover bandwidth and increase the likelihood of academic success.
• Understand that there are evidence-based interventions that show promise in helping students regain bandwidth.
• Practice interventions and reflect on them related to their potential use in the classroom and in other settings with students.



Cia Verschelden is the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Malcolm X College. Most recently, she was the Executive Director of Institutional Assessment at University of Central Oklahoma. At UCO, she taught in sociology and in the first-year program; at Kansas State University, where she was on the faculty for 21 years, she taught social welfare and social policy, women’s studies, and nonviolence studies. Cia has a B.S. in psychology from Kansas State University, an M.S.W. from The University of Connecticut, and an Ed.D. from Harvard University. Her book, Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism, and Social Marginalization, was published in 2017.



Schedule subject to change

8:30 a.m.

Check-in begins

8:45 - 9:00 a.m.


9:00 - 10:00 a.m.

Context – What is mental bandwidth and how is it depleted by scarcity?

10:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Economic inequality, social-psychological underminers, and Adverse Childhood Experiences

10:30 - 10:45 a.m.


10:45 - 12:00 p.m.

Classroom/group interventions practice and discussion/reflection
Value affirmations
Growth mindset
High-hope syllabus
Connecting the known to the unknown

12:00 - 1:00 p.m.


1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Consideration for campus environments



Earlybird Rate: $199.00, ends September 11, 2019. Regular Rate: $249.00, September 12 - Ocober 11, 2019. Includes parking and lunch.

Registrants prepaying with a university/college credit card may print the ELA Prepayment Authorization Form for your records.



Cary Williams
Director, Educators' Leadership Academy
Phone: (405) 974-5561

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