In the last week of term, I attended my first Resource Teacher of Literacy conference. It was an interesting experience in many ways. I love conferences. I think we all do. The goodie bags, the interactions with colleagues, the new learning, the interesting discussions. All of this was present, but what this conference did miss for me was the online interaction that I’ve experienced in conferences before.
I was the creator of the hashtag #rtlitconf and remained the only user of the hashtag throughout the conference. Oh well, I guess there’s always next conference! I feel good having used twitter as my “note-taking” for the conference and have storify-ed it.
By far the most fascinating and, in my opinion, most useful session was Christian Wright’s talk about the brain. He is a private speech therapist in Wellington and his clear and simple explanation of how the brain works really helped me to understand our students better. Several students popped into my head immediately while he was speaking.
Here are some photos I took of the great presentation he did:
I found it interesting and moving that learning is an emotional event for many struggling students. How can we make it a positive emotion?
Three key areas of the brain that he talked about.
I liked the names Upstairs and Downstairs brain – it made it so easy to understand. You could easily explain this to a student.
That explains why many people in their early twenties still don’t feel like they’ve got it together! I got from this that the Upstairs and Downstairs need to work together successfully for learning to occur.
Downstairs brain is all about our emotions and memory of those emotions.
Three states can occur when the Downstairs brain swings into action. It is doing this to protect the student! They are:
What can we do to get students out of this state? How can we help them to get back into their Upstairs brain? How can we support them to create positive pathways around learning?
Christian had these simple steps to follow. I really like the simplicity and the focus on respecting the student and building relationships.
If you ever get a chance to hear Christian speak, do so! And if you have any students in Wellington who need a speech language therapist, check out his website
, I’m sure he’s brilliant!