Pre Conference Workshops

Friday, April 7
8:15 AM – 12:15 PM

Cost per person: $189.
By advance registration only. Select one of six.
Add $25 fee if you are not attending the conference.




1. Transformative Teaching: Helping Students Thrive in the Classroom

This workshop will explore student needs in three key areas: emotional, cultural and academic. These three areas are interconnected with facets of a student’s whole self and must be addressed equally if students are to thrive and survive in our classrooms and in life. By understanding each of these three areas, coupled with some quality teaching practices based on brain science that build students’ mindsets and their skill sets, you will be able to integrate all three components in simple and doable ways to transform your classrooms so all learners can succeed.

Kathleen M. Kryza, MA, Master Teacher; CIO, Infinite Horizons; Co-Author, Transformational Teaching: Changing Today’s Classrooms Culturally, Academically and Emotionally (2015)




2. How Students Think, Feel and Learn (Advanced Class)

Over the past fifteen years, the science of learning has provided many insights into how we think, feel, and learn. These promising principles provide a starting point for educators to apply the science of learning to the instructional decisions they make in their classroom. This pre-conference workshop unpacks the most recent and relevant findings from the science of learning and shows you how to put them into action! Dr. Almarode will discuss advanced topics in and identify their relevance to education. Topics include emotions, memory, stress and the classroom, the science of attention, and memory formation. You will learn how to extract applications from research, ready for implementation in the classroom. This workshop is for brain-savvy educators.

John T. Almarode, MA, Department Head and Assistant Professor, Educational Foundations and Exceptionalities, College of Education, James Madison University; Co-Author, Engaged Instruction: Thriving Classrooms in the Age of the Common Core (2014) and Captivate, Activate, and Invigorate the Student Brain in Science and Math (2013)


3. Positive Discipline Tools for the Classroom: Teaching Students Life Skills for Social, Emotional, and Academic Success

This interactive workshop will offer insightful and actionable information on how to successfully incorporate respectful, solution-focused approaches to ensure a positive, productive classroom and school-wide culture. You will learn effective tools to help students be successful in school and in life. Dr. Gfroerer will provide Positive Discipline tools that foster self-discipline and intrinsic motivation in students and help create a classroom climate based on cooperation and contribution. She will provide experiential activities and demonstrations to show how Positive Discipline tools can shift challenges and mistakes to opportunities for learning. Finally, she will share teacher stories and in-depth research on the science behind why Positive Discipline is so effective.

Kelly Gfroerer, PhD, LPC, Licensed Professional Counselor; Director of Training and Research, Positive Discipline Association; Co-Author with Dr. Jane Nelsen, Positive Discipline Tools for Teachers: Effective Classroom Management for Social, Emotional and Academic Success (2017) and “Positive Discipline: Helping Children Develop Belonging and Coping Resources Using Individual Psychology” (2013, The Journal of Individual Psychology)


4. Stress, Anxiety and the Adolescent Brain

Today's children and teenagers are reporting the highest levels of stress and anxiety ever recorded. Dr. Stixrud will discuss ways in which stress shapes brain development in children and teens, and of the accumulating research evidence, which indicates that, by reducing stress, meditation can facilitate healthy brain development. He will provide evidence that meditation can be an important tool for helping teens learn more efficiently and improve their academic achievement, as well as reduce the risk that young people will be burdened by depression, anxiety, chemical abuse, eating disorders, or self-injury.

William R. Stixrud, PhD, Clinical Neuropsychologist; Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, George Washington School of Medicine; Adjunct Faculty, Children’s National Medical Center; Director, The Stixrud Group; Co-Author, “Use of the Transcendental Meditation Technique to Reduce Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by Reducing Stress and Anxiety” (2008, Current Issues in Education)


5. Fostering Resilience by Creating Emotionally Safe Classrooms

Too many students come to classrooms carrying life-heavy backpacks stuffed with the effects of traumatic stress. The CDC estimates that over twenty-two percent of all children have two or more adverse childhood experiences impacting their well-being and daily functioning. Children with these hard storied lives need and require emotionally safe classroom environments to become resilient learners. As an educator on the front lines each and every day, what do you need to know and do to help students reach beyond misfortune and become resilient enough to manage the daily work of school? This workshop will help you realize and recognize the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and traumatic stress. You will learn how to implement eight core actions that establish safety, stability, connection and belonging in the learning environment. You will learn how to respond appropriately to the emotional emergencies that interrupt the classroom learning process.

Mary Fowler, BA Program Director and Trainer, Upstream Suicide Prevention Program, RWJ Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention; Psychoeducational Trainer for Schools; Author, “How to Create Emotionally Safe Classrooms Using Psychological First Aid” (2015, ASCD Express)


6. Strategies for Teaching Academic Reading for Student Success

Navigating informational text can be a daunting task — especially for our struggling readers! In this dynamic workshop, experience practical, research-based strategies to make informational text more “real” with your students and to foster a growth mindset for success! Learn effective techniques for comprehension strategies that successful readers use. Explore how to make informational literacy more intentional, connected and engaging. Struggling readers must have: a chance to read at their instructional and independent reading levels; engaging texts that they want to read; better ways to build their vocabulary; comprehension strategies that help them understand what they have read; decoding strategies that help them get through difficult text;(?) and the ability to organize critical information. Stimulate all students’ interest in reading with outstanding nonfiction texts and how to integrate them across the curriculum! Leave with over 25 proven strategies and designs for learning to take back to your classrooms and schools.

Kathy Perez, EdD, Professor of Education; Director of Outreach and Professional Development,Saint Mary’s College of California; Author, 200+ Proven Strategies for Teaching Reading, Grades K-8 (2016), New Inclusion: Differentiated Strategies to Engage ALL Students (2013) and More Than 100 Brain-Friendly Tools and Strategies for Literacy Instruction (2008)