Special Workshops

Registration Opening Soon

Pre-Conference Workshops
Friday, November 13

8:30 am – 12:35 pm
Fee: $169
(Add $25, if not attending the conference.)


1. Positive Classrooms: Using Mindfulness and Neuroscience for Well-Being


Dr. Olson will provide a positive approach to education and usable tools for schools. He will weave together research from human relationships, neuroscience, mindfulness and well-being in an understandable manner so you can create a positive school and classroom climate. This workshop will include lecture and experiential components so that you can both learn these techniques and experience them.

Kirke Olson, PsyD, Nationally Certified School Psychologist; President, The Positivity Company; Former Student/Assistant of renowned Positive Psychologist Martin Seligman, PhD; Author, The Invisible Classroom: Relationships, Neuroscience, and Mindfulness in Schools (2014)


2. Learning to Read Words: A Mind, Brain and Education Perspective

You will have the opportunity to explore the reading brain from the perspectives of psychology, neuroscience and education. Learning to read is an amazingly complex task that requires the development and coordination of multiple skills and neural systems. In this workshop, you will examine scientific evidence concerning the development of a brain that can read single words, from the visual processing of letters, to the linking of those letters with the sounds of language, to making meaning. A significant theme of the workshop will be the remarkable plasticity of the human brain: Educators and students together are literally building brains that can read. When appropriate, topics will be mapped to the K-5 ELA Common Core State Standards.

Donna J. Coch, EdD, Associate Professor of Education; Principal Investigator, Reading Brains Lab, Department of Education; Faculty, Graduate Program, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College; Co-Author, "The N400 and the Fourth Grade Shift” (2015, Developmental Science), “Behavioral and ERP Evidence of Word and Pseudoword Superiority Effects in 7- and 11-year-olds” (2012, Brain Research) and “Constructing a Reading Brain” (2010, Mind, Brain, and Education)



3. The Power of Resilience in Youth

Dr. Goldstein will provide an overarching theory describing the cascade of risk and vulnerability in youth. He will introduce the concept of positive psychology and resilience focusing on the shift to a strengths-based model. He will emphasize practical hands-on strategies.


Sam J. Goldstein, PhD; Assistant Clinical Instructor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Utah Medical School; Clinical Director, Neurology Learning and Behavior Center in Salt Lake City; Co-Author, The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence and Personal Strength in Your Life (2009)


dawson and guare

4. Helping Teens Strengthen Executive Skills to Reach Their Full Potential

Drs. Dawson and Guare will focus on practical strategies parents and teachers can use to strengthen executive skill development during the teen years. These include effective communication tools designed to minimize conflict and maximize the collaborative efforts that are essential for motivating teenagers and innovative and evidence-based strategies you can use to enhance executive functioning.


Margaret (Peg) Dawson, EdD, NCSP, School Psychologist, Center for Learning and Attention Disorders, Seacoast Mental Health Center, Portsmouth, NH; Past President of the New Hampshire Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the International School Psychology Association; Recipient of the National Association of School Psychologists' Lifetime Achievement Award; and Richard Guare, PhD, D-BCBA, Clinical/Neuropsychologist, Portsmouth Regional Hospital; Director, Center for Learning and Attention Disorders, Seacoast Mental Health Center, Portsmouth, NH; Former Fellow, Harvard Medical School; Both Co-Authors, The Work-Smart Academic Planner (2015), Smart but Scattered Teens: The "Executive Skills" Program for Helping Teens Reach Their Potential (2012) and Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents: A Practical Guide to Assessment  (2010, 2nd Edition)










5. Fostering and Assessing Non-Cognitive and Character Skills

This workshop will explore research on self-reported non-cognitive and “character” skills (conscientiousness, self-control, grit and growth mindset), the integration of psychological perspectives of character in schools, their impact on achievement, and ways to foster and
implement character and no-cognitive skills in your school.

PART I:  Measuring Students' Non-Cognitive Skills and Schooling: Implications for Education

Dr. Gabrieli will discuss his research results on the relationships between self-reported non-cognitive skills (conscientiousness, self-control, grit, and growth mindset) and student outcomes in eighth-grade students attending public schools in Boston and what it means for assessing these skills in schools.

John D. E. Gabrieli, PhD; Grover Hermann Professor in Health Sciences and Technology; Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences; Co-Director, Clinical Research Center; Associate Director, Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Co-Author, Promise and Paradox: Measuring Students’ Non-Cognitive Skills and the Impact of Schooling (2014) and “Age-Related Differences in Emotional Reactivity, Regulation, and Rejection Sensitivity in Adolescence" (2012, American Psychological Association)


PART II: Measuring and Assessing Character Strengths


Dr. McGrath will introduce various strategies that have been developed for measuring character strengths in school-aged populations. He will cover the entire span of learner ages from 6 to 60.  The focus of the workshop will be on self-report measures, but more subtle approaches based on language use will also be reviewed.

Robert E. McGrath, PhD, Senior Scientist, VIA Institute on Character; Professor, School of Psychology, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Author, “Character Strengths in 75 Nations” (2014, Positive Psychology)


PART III: Character's Edge


Character skills are essential for our students to thrive in school, life and our world. What stops them being at the core of a school’s mission? Riverdale School Head Dominic Randolph, a leader in character education, will share work that has been done at Riverdale, KIPP and through The Character Lab (www.characterlab.org) on fostering character skills and will suggest some ways forward that can be employed in all schools.

Dominic A.A. Randolph, MEd, Head of School, Riverdale Country School, NY, which has focused on character and character assessment; Co-Founder and Board Member, Character Lab; Steering Committee Member, International Positive Education Network; Author, "Schools Of Character" (2014, Brooking Research Paper)


6. Helping Children with ADHD and Trauma

Part I: Mindful ADHD: Cultivating Calm, Reducing Stress and Helping Students Thrive

ADHD affects the quality of children’s lives in a myriad of ways including increased stress levels, struggles with school, and challenges in personal relationships. Mindfulness, conversely, may improve executive function and attention, reduce stress, promote cognitive flexibility in problem solving, and to foster emotional well-being.   Dr. Bertin will shown you how mindfulness can be integrated into all of evidence-based ADHD care to support children, families and teachers to facilitate progress, self-esteem and relationships.

Mark Bertin, MD, Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, New York Medical College; Faculty, Windward Teacher Training Institute; Author, Mindful Parenting ADHD: A Guide to Cultivating Calm, Reduce Stress and Helping Children Thrive (2015) and The Family ADHD Solution (2011) 


Part II: Managing the Fear-Driven Brain: Helping Children with a History of Abuse and Neglect

Trauma directly affects the developing brain, specifically brain areas responsible for attention, concentration, regulating emotions and engaging in satisfying relationships. After having been traumatized, the brain perceptual system becomes specialized in detecting threat (even if no real threat exists), and the body keeps pumping out stress hormones that make people feel frazzled, agitated, or shut down. These behaviors do not emanate from the rational part of the brain, but from the emotional brain, the limbic system, whose task it is to ensure survival. The survival brain expresses itself in physical sensations, emotions, and automatic actions. Talk, or warnings about the consequences of behaving badly, even when combined with warmth and sympathy, does not reset the limbic system, the part of the brain that contains an inner map of a dangerous world and a sense of oneself as being helpless within it. Dr. van der Kolk will explain how the brain organizes traumatic experiences and how traumatic imprints can be addressed using evidence-based techniques drawn from yoga, theater, neurofeedback and somatic therapies to overcome the destabilization and panic induced by trauma and neglect.

Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University Medical School; Medical Director of the Trauma Center at JRI; Author, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (2015) and Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society (2006)