Ignite your Student
I remember many years ago, when I was teaching at a Connecticut based private school for children with learning differences, the school psychologist would visit my room frequently to share some feedback.
On a regular basis, he would share that the parents of my students were witnessing their children taking risks they had never seen before – reading at night in bed, studying aloud at the end of the day, wanting to have new experiences based on what they were learning in my class.
I quickly began to pay close attention to what I was providing that made them change their actions. Very early on in my career, I knew that the emotional mindset of a child was key to success, confidence and self-esteem for learning and living well.
I intentionally created safe environments where students practiced self-respect and respect for others. I incorporated improvisational drama exercises to teach literature and really explore the books we were reading while internalizing their themes, vocabulary and literary devices.
This improvisational framework gave these young people a voice and presence outside of what people expected they could or would be able to do. This structure also allowed them to explore interests in new ways without stopping the process because, for example, they were not able to read at a certain grade level.
Most importantly, this improvisational form allowed them to explore their own emotional mindset through the characters and situations they presented in each improvisational exercise.
By the end of each school year, most every student could lead at least one improv exercise independently from me and all of the students were more confident in sharing their thoughts and ideas. I witnessed self-empowerment, a solid sense of community, confidence, self-esteem and risk-taking.
At one point, a woman came in to observe my class on a day when we were doing improv. I remember the look on her face when she saw how freely the students participated and how very focused and independent they were in a class form that could have easily become utter chaos.
She came up to me at the end of the class, in shock, and said, “If I didn’t know that these were kids with learning disabilities, I never would have guessed.”
In 2001, I began working with students, families, teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists to support Unique Learners, creating more synergy and collaboration between home, therapy sessions and school.
My therapeutic approach helps learners “turn back on” to life and ignites their learning.
I contribute to the therapeutic process by empowering all parties involved, especially the student. I am there to enhance the conversation around the collective possibilities for the student to succeed and ignite their learning.
I enjoy collaborating with a team of people who all have significant insight and commitment to helping a Unique Learner shine brighter.
That experience stayed with me as I have continued my work privately with families, children, young adults and their therapists and educators. I developed a very therapeutic approach, helping my students and their families find more emotional freedom in learning and life.
Who do I consult with and support?
I consult as part of the team helping young people ages five and up who:
- Are falling through the cracks
- Are being pushed through the school system without feeling good about themselves or experiencing the value of learning
- Make themselves smaller or hide because they are used to not being acknowledged and are not reaching their potential
- Are disorganized and/or procrastinate
- Hate school and feel like they can never succeed
- Are stressed out about life and school
- Feel hopeless, sad and depressed
- Don’t know how to do homework, study or write
- Are unique “out-of-the-box” learners, processors, thinkers and feelers
- Need help with Executive Function and Metacognitive processes
- Have Learning Differences, special needs, high IQ or are gifted
- Are considered high IQ, intellectually gifted and also have some form of disability (twice exceptional learners)
- Are going through a very difficult change or experience, including the death of a loved one, and they are struggling in school
How do I consult and support?
- I observe and transform stress that plays out in a classroom due to the group dynamic or an individual who is emotionally and academically stuck
- I am here to help you understand how a student’s emotional mindset plays out in the classroom and where their learning gets stopped or distorted because of that mindset
- I am here to give you my assessment of what is happening with a particular student, based on a variety of possible influencers
- I go beyond test results: I have found Psychoeducational Evaluations and other more traditionally used assessments to be a only a portion of information to consider when approaching a case – I have seen what someone appears to be on paper to be very different in the long run when we approach these cases from a different angle
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Why have me consult?
I am a collaborator and innovator who focuses on:
How each child learns
Creating the fullest learning experience is far more complex than the information any WISC or intelligence test can provide us. And the opportunities for growth, mastery and learning do not stay the same forever – they are always changing and transforming.
The process and journey of learning
When we take testing and performance as the final result, we stop looking for what is possible and, instead, the focus stays on what is wrong, broken, weak, or at a deficit. I help shift that focus and perspective.
How Affect impacts Learning
I provide unique insight to each support team regarding emotional affect – specifically, the impact of emotional mindset on learning, self-esteem and confidence and the cognitive process. We focus on how to create more ease for each student in and out of the classroom.
What else impacts Learning and Experiencing for a Unique Learner
We’ll explore together the student’s past experiences, personality type, learning style, temperament, teacher, family, and professional support, family and school dynamics, sensitivity and sensory experience involving both the brain and emotions.
Identifying what the Unique Learner needs
Whether that is remediation, emotional support or clearing of experiences that have caused them to hide or be smaller, I’ll help in discovering the best ways to support them.
Opportunities for Success
I’ll share my techniques and strategies for setting up environments for success and support the team in making progress to move forward.
When it’s time to refer a student We’ll look at what else we can and should consider to help our unique learners shine including the differences between various personality types, learning styles, and temperaments in the classroom, the difference between teaching and learning and learning facilitator vs. teacher and the role of the parents and family dynamic.