4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Registration / Exhibits OpenReception
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
8:00 AM – 6:30 PM
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Speaker: Allison Posey, Chief Consultant, PoseyEd
Dive into understanding the learning brain, including topics on attention, memory, executive function, motivation, and emotions. In this keynote, we will make connections to your students’ needs and share new strategies for how to design learning experiences to maximize what we know about learning and the brain.
10:00 AM – 10:30 AM
10:30 AM – 11:15 AM
Emotions are not separate from learning – emotions enable learning. Learn about emotions and the brain to make connections to your current routines and structures. In this breakout session, we will share new ideas and strategies to maximize engagement and learning for your students.
Speaker: Jessica Kulp, Upper School Student Academic Support Coordinator, Cannon School
Supporting the development of executive functions has become an essential focus of teaching and learning. However, finding effective ways to implement and integrate the strategies educators learn through conferences, books, webinars, etc., can be challenging. If you are ready to explore prototypes for concrete and applicable systems for coaching academic and executive function skills, then this is the session for you!
In this session, you’ll learn how to design an academic coaching program that builds and strengthens executive functioning skills while encouraging student autonomy and self-advocacy.
Participants will engage in a design thinking challenge that will spark their creativity through envisioning an academic coaching model for their school. Following an explanation of Cannon School’s coaching model, participants will be invited to discuss, manipulate, and share in small groups. Participants will be encouraged to identify specific takeaways from the sample program model for immediate implementation.
Speaker: Katy Goldsmith, Director of Middle School Academic Resource Center, Pace Academy
Interested in establishing routine professional development opportunities to increase neurodiversity awareness and inclusivity on your campus? Join this session to learn how Pace Academy learning specialists partnered with Pace’s DEI team to develop professional workshops for teachers. “Amplifying the Voices of the Neurodiverse” lunch and learns support teachers in understanding neurodiversity, specific learning diagnoses, informed teaching practices, the student experience, and using neuropsychological educational testing to support individual students within the classroom. This session will offer a detailed explanation of how learning specialists can create cost-effective, readily available, and informative workshops to educate faculty and staff in creating academically inclusive spaces.
Participants will engage in a workshop which highlights research-based information related to learning diagnosis, previewing how to capture student testimonials, participating in simulations to further understand the student experience, and reviewing classroom tips and tools which can be utilized to create an inclusive classroom.
Speaker: Page Poston Sullivan, Middle School Learning Specialist, Christ Church Episcopal School
Student populations continue to present with diagnosed learning disabilities, attention disorders, mental health concerns, and other specific needs. As educators, we are asked to help set a path towards student success, helping them reach their highest potential. Appropriately written student learning plans can be the framework for all parties to follow as we work together to help each child succeed.
In this session, you will learn how to provide structure and purpose in all student learning plans so the plans benefit students, parents, and faculty. We will discuss which accommodations are necessary to include in the plan, even though they may be part of classroom teachers’ best practices and differentiation. We will also look at case studies to practice writing learning plans.
You will leave with a better understanding of the why behind official accommodations and how many accommodations are part of good teaching practices and differentiation. Learning specialists or others who oversee writing learning plans will be able to take away ideas on how to improve their school’s learning plan structure and contents.
11:15 AM – 11:30 AM
11:30 AM – 12:15 PM
Speaker: Rachael Barron, CEO, Effective Students
More and more students are diagnosed with ADHD and other learning differences promoting school to implement learning strategists. At what point can these learning strategists equip students to solve their own academic challenges? How do we build that capacity in our learners? Participants will leave this session with an understanding of principles that lead to powerful results, three measurable outcomes that create the foundation for student independence, questions to prompt self-reflection for enhanced metacognition, and how to build the frontal lobe.
Speaker: Grace Wingfield, Director of Academic Support, Ashley Hall School
Join this session for a discussion on the crucial relationship between student attendance, wellness, and academic performance. We will discuss the impact and overlap of these essential factors and gain an understanding of how student attendance and well-being directly correlate with academic success.
This presentation will give teachers the tools they need to empower students to increase their own learning. By understanding how our brain works regarding executive functioning, teachers will have the knowledge to help students struggling in this area and in turn, create learning environments where students feel supported.
Speakers: Andrea Adams, Academic Support Program Coordinator, and Donna Barger, ASP Instructor, St. David’s School
In this session we will discuss progress monitoring and communication strategies for students in support programs. We will share valuable insights into making observations, handling requests, and crafting formal write-ups with clarity and purpose. Effective communication between parents and teachers is crucial for student success, and we will explore effective strategies for fostering open and constructive communication between families, teachers, and learning support. This session is designed to empower learning specialists with practical skills and knowledge to improve progress monitoring, goal setting, and communication in support programs.
Speakers: Janine Couch, Director of Student Support, and Elizabeth Sheward, Assistant Director of Center for Academic Excellence, Maclay School
As the landscape of learners in independent schools broadens, educators feel less equipped to address an increase in learning variance and widening achievement gaps. This session will review CAST’s Universal Design for Learning (UDL), an approach designed to remove barriers to learning and increase access and motivation. We will be using the UDL framework to present this material, modeling how educators can consider engagement, expression, and representation while designing their classroom instruction.
We will practice audience engagement tools such as polling, brain breaks, reflection, and structures for collaboration. Participants will leave the session with a beginning understanding of the UDL framework and learn practical tips for implementation that bolsters academic support in any content or grade level.
12:15 PM – 1:15 PM
1:15 PM – 1:30 PM
1:30 PM – 2:15 PM
Speaker: Tamara Hamilton, School Counselor & Director of Cliff Valley Institute, Cliff Valley School
Neuroscience continues to reveal more and more about how the brain learns and functions. As educators, we have a responsibility to continue to engage in best practices for effective learning. All students are developing executive function skills, and brain targeted models that combine cognitive, neuro, and learning sciences are shifting our focus from what we teach to how one learns.
Students who are faced with executive function challenges often end up seeking intervention when they are at a critical point, when the pressure is on! Learning specialists, counselors, and other helping professionals swoop in and offer the best-laid plans, a crisis averted only to have a repeat a few weeks later. The problem isn’t in what we are doing, but how we are doing it. Motivating and engaging students for executive function work offers another approach to guide students through effective habit-forming change. A bottom-up approach rooted in cognitive-behavioral, neuro, and learning sciences that empowers students as personal agents in forming new habits for their executive functioning. Participants will be invited to engage in whole group and small group discussions, pairing activities, and role-play demonstrations.
Speaker: Kara Loftin, Head of School, The Schenck School, and Executive Director, ReadSource
A strong grasp of vocabulary plays a pivotal role in enhancing students’ reading comprehension abilities. In this session, we will explore the significance of cross-curricular integration of vocabulary instruction and the importance of direct, explicit instruction of high-utility words for students as they move toward skilled reading. Key principles for effective vocabulary instruction, along with the introduction of a framework for developing vocabulary skills with time to demonstrate and practice, will provide participants with both knowledge and a practical tool to bring back to the classroom.
By the end of this session, participants will be able to describe reading high-utility words, and disciplinary literacy, categorize high-utility from non-high utility words in a passage, and design their own lesson plan for direct, explicit instruction of high-utility vocabulary.
Speakers: Hagen Carmichael, Learning Specialist, and Maggie Simms, Learning Specialist, Christ Church Episcopal School
Navigating school for middle and upper school students can be challenging for all but especially for our students who struggle with a documented learning difference. Equipping students with problem-solving and self-advocacy skills to progress through a rigorous curriculum is essential for academic success and building confidence as we prepare them for life beyond the classroom. Join us to explore a variety of strategies and skills to implement in a gradual release approach in fostering student independence and ownership. This presentation will be relevant for anyone interested in developing or growing an academic support program for grades 5-12 or learning additional strategies that would be useful as a learning specialist or general content teacher.
2:15 PM – 2:45 PM
2:45 PM – 3:30 PM
Speaker: Lane Abrams, Achievement Center Director, Christ Church Episcopal School
Transitioning to college marks a pivotal juncture in one’s educational journey. Students with learning differences may require additional support at the secondary education level. Additionally, students may need accommodations for standardized testing on college entrance exams. However, this process starts well before the student’s graduation day. This session aims to provide insight into how Christ Church Episcopal School supports their upper school students and parents with learning differences for this next phase in their educational journey.
Speaker: Scott Hamilton, Owner/Clinical Psychologist, Understanding Minds
Participants will gain a better understanding of what processing speed is (and what it isn’t). We will discuss the neuropsychology of processing speed, including the multiple causes and signs of processing speed difficulties. Participants will learn to go beyond traditional IQ test measures and to utilize a more comprehensive model of processing speed in their work with students. The session will conclude with a review of accommodations and practical strategies for students with processing speed difficulties.
Speaker: Keri Knisley, Outreach and Outplacement Coordinator, Camperdown Academy
The connection between a school’s support program and content in the classroom is vital to student success. If academic support staff are equipped with appropriate and practical strategies, then that knowledge will guide the support plan for students. Effective support plans help students own their educational needs and make differentiated instruction more of a team effort between students and teachers.
This session will provide insight into how a diagnosis and/or academic profile should drive differentiated instruction. We will discuss strategies to prepare academic support staff to understand effective accommodations and modifications and create support strategies that are valuable for a student and easily managed by a teacher. We will also share data to demonstrate how advocacy and accommodations impact a student’s education. Equipping students to advocate for their learning needs in the classroom turns differentiated instruction into a team effort.
3:30 PM – 4:00 PM
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Q&A on PsychEd Testing (Scott Hamilton)
5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Speaker: Josh Clark, Head of School, Landmark School
Session description coming soon!
Speaker: Rich Weinfeld, Executive Director/Special Education Consultant, Weinfeld Education Group
Independent school educators and leaders will understand the special education process, policy, and procedures and how they may benefit students who are attending or applying to independent schools. Participants will demonstrate an understanding of how independent school students can qualify for eligibility in special education and receive no-cost assessments, how a service plan for independent school students that is provided by the local school district may benefit these students, and how independent schools may receive funding for student with special needs. In addition, independent school staff will learn how special education identification and programming may serve students who are not an appropriate fit for the independent school in question. The presenter will rely on his experience of 30 years as a teacher and administrator in public schools and his 19 additional years in private practice working with students and their families nationwide.
In today’s rapidly evolving educational landscape, the power of artificial intelligence (AI) is undeniable, revolutionizing how we approach learning and teaching. This session will share the possibilities AI offers to empower students with learning differences.
Drawing from case studies and research, we will explore the impact of current AI-driven tools on the learning experience and explore what improvements and advancements may mean for the future. We will learn how AI-powered adaptive platforms can personalize curricula, enabling students to grasp concepts at their own pace and partner with teachers to further personalize instruction while also saving prep time.
Collaborating to co-create AI solutions that amplify learning strengths while addressing challenges head-on, this conversation will conclude with a thought-provoking discussion on the future of AI in education, highlighting the need for ongoing research, development, and advocacy to ensure that every learner has what they need.
Speaker: Adam Rothschild, Director of Upper School, The New Community School
As independent schools, we are in a unique position to provide the kind of high-touch individual approach needed to know our students well and to help them, in turn, understand their own learning needs. Plus, as independent schools, a very high percentage of our students will go on to college, where a deeper understanding of their strengths will help them self-manage and achieve success.
In this session, attendees will explore various ways teachers at The New Community School encourage their students to identify their own strengths and most successful strategies in response to their language-based learning differences and gain an appreciation for the science behind the benefits of supported metacognition and self-knowledge.