Life is all about learning!
The annual conference for NILD Canada held on April 22 and 23 at Tyndale University College was an amazing event! Educators, educational therapists, parents, administrators and others interested in education met together to learn and share, focusing on the theme “Neuroplasticity: The Basis of Education”.
Dr. Steve Sider (Associate Professor at Wilfred Laurier University) challenged us to think about the “twice exceptional” child, who is gifted and has a learning disability, as well as high school students dealing with exceptionality. How do we work with and challenge these students?
Dr. Kimberly Maich (Assistant Professor at Brock University) shared ideas on “visual strategies for supporting students with ASD”, as well as working with “behaviour changes”.
Both of these keynote speakers bring with them a wealth of experiences in special education, and were a delight to listen to. Each day was packed with workshops to give more tools for writing ideas, early screening, looking at the whole brain child, developing critical thinking and working with words (morphology). Learning and exploring new vistas also happens from the conversations with other educators and therapists.
On Friday evening there was a wonderful fundraising banquet and silent auction, where we were joined by spouses and visitors, as well as board members of the organization.
Coming home from the conference, I felt like one of my students might feel after an educational therapy session – completely “overstimulated”. Several days later, while processing the information in my brain, I reflected on the last workshop by Trix Bradley (former director of NILD) which was entitled “Going for the Gold”. When working with students who have learning disabilities, we often work on the struggling areas, and she suggested we need to focus more on their strengths to build confidence.
We must help children and adults to identify and reinforce these islands (of competence) so that at some point they become more dominant than the ocean of inadequacy. (Robert Brooks)
Sometimes teaching and educational therapy is like riding a bike with your hands full, so you can’t grab the handlebars… as you try to meet the needs of your student, building on their strengths and targeting the weak areas, loving the child and supporting them every way you can! Let’s keep the bike going with zest and confidence as we explore new vistas with our students, and see them “going for the gold”. Conferences like this one are great places of renewal and challenges for the task! Thanks to all who made this conference happen!