EA Conference 2017

The conference is for Education Assistants working for Westwind School Division. Any others who may be interested in attending the conference should contact Rick Gilson Asst Superintendent at Westwind.

Review the material below and then click on this link to Register http://bit.ly/2jUxZJl

The Conference is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan 31st  at Magrath High School.  The schedule for the day will follow a pattern we’ve established over the last couple of years and looks like this:

8:30 – 8:45 – Snacks (I’m told ‘fresh’ butterhorns will be part of this along with some water and fruits and veggies) and get ready to start the day

8:45 – 9:20 Greetings and Opening Comments – Tom K gym at Magrath High School.

9:20- 9:30 moving to session one
9:30 – 10:40 Session One
Break 10:40 – 10:50 moving to session two
10:50  – 12:00 Session Two
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch – Ham, Roasted Potatoes, Salad and Dessert (planning to be in the Audi)
1:00 – 2:10 – Session Three

2:10 – 2:45 – School Team Meeting with your school teams prior to departing for the day.  The feedback from last year  suggested that some time to meet is appreciated but perhaps too much time was provided as some continued the conversations in their cars, buses etc on the way home and some of the feedback suggested that folks really wanted the opportunity to attend three of the topics rather than just two.

So in the spirit of experimentation slightly shorter sessions, 3 of them, and a starter conversation meeting.  School’s have a conversation to determine who will lead your conversation in advance please.


Through the Looking Glass – A look, through a variety of activities videos, and conversation at what our students who struggle may experience and how understanding those issues can help us as Education Assistants. Conrad Boehme (Ed Psychologist) Offered all three sessions

Nature Play and Traditional Games – This session will give participants an opportunity to learn about how to connect their classroom with nature and the Aboriginal culture of Southern Alberta. We will be using learning tools and household items to show participants there is always a way we can be connected to nature, regardless of weather. Secondly, we will be looking at some of the Traditional Games and Culture of Aboriginals in Southern Alberta. These games link traditional culture and values to physical literacy and fundamental movement skills.  Tiffany Weeden Session one and two

Mindfulness In the Classroom – The Lethbridge College Be Fit for Life Centre will provide a hands on training to utilize two of their most popular resources. Zen Me and Yoga Techniques for the Classroom provide ready to use techniques to inspire focus, balance and relaxation. Combined they can help students and teachers be less reactive and more mindful with their actions on how they respond to stress. Tiffany Weeden Last Session only

Strategies through speech and communication  – Regan Bikman (SLP) -Working from the perspective of a Speech Language Pathologist Regan will share strategies and approaches to work with students in improving their ability to communicate with others and function in the classroom for SLA’s and any other EA’s whose students are primarily struggling with communication challenges. . (Offered in the last session only)

Using PODD (Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display) books to support children with complex communication needs  You will learn general strategies for using alternative communication methods, the principles of PODD and why it might benefit your child, and the importance of modelling and how to model the use of PODD Jocelyn Roberts (Alberta Health Services)  Offered in the last session only.

Reflexes and Movement as a stress buster for young children AND adults: Building upon  Erin Stonehocker (PT) Erin has continued her work that was shared in part last year exploring the links to gross motor development and learning, Erin writes, “We all experience different types of stress.  Learn how MNRI or reflex exercise can help with stress relief in both adults and children.  These simple exercises can help reset the chronic stress cycle and improve overall well being and function.”   (Offered in the morning two sessions only)

GOOD GRIEVING: A PERSON CENTRED, STRENGTH-BASED APPROACH ASSISTING CHILDREN AND YOUTH Are different kinds of losses grieved differently? Do children grieve differently than adults? What common mistakes can be avoided when attempting to assist those grieving? Those who attend will leave with strategies to support those grieving.  Kent Hollingsworth, MA, CSFT (Offered first session only)

AD[H]D: Impact and Implications – A COLLABORATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING APPROACH  ADHD can cause significant challenges in the lives of children with this diagnosis, and significant frustration for those who teach and support children with this diagnosis. This workshop includes a variety of video clips and resources to help understand the AD(H)D brain, it’s impact on executive functioning, and helpful supportive strategies and ideas to help support students who  have these types of challenges, and encourage those that support them. Kent Hollingsworth (Offered second and third session)

UNDERSTANDING AND MANAGING ANXIETY IN THE CLASSROOM This presentation helps participants understand the new research around the roots of anxiety and how they can self-recognize their own anxiety as well as those in the individuals they support.  Participants will learn hands-on strategies through group discussions, case presentations and anxiety reducing activities.  Brandie Andrews -MSW (Offered First and Third Session)

ATTACHMENT DISORDER:  STRATEGIES TO PROMOTE HEALING AND REGULATION  This introductory workshop will provide a brief overview of Attachment Disorder and how best to support these individuals.  The workshop will begin with an information summary of the disorder followed by practical strategies to promote and foster positive relationships.  Participants will have the opportunity to brainstorm and discuss case questions.   Brandie Andrews – MSW (Offered Second Session only)

What’s going on in that brain? Experiences in the first years of life influences brains are built. The Brain Architecture Game gives participants an interactive experience will answer questions and help to educate about how life events, both positive and toxic, affect the brain’s development as children grow. Michelle MacKinnon (Offered all three sessions)

Pencil and Scissor skills- how to make it easier on you and your student. This session focuses on how to help your student develop pencil skills (holding a pencil, pre-printing and printing skills) and how to teach scissors skills (different types of scissors, progression of skills) Melany Duffin – OT (Melany will be presenting three times, once on Pencil and Scissors, once on Self-help and third time the focus will be on the most requested of the two.)

Self-help skills – how to help your students become independent. Dressing skills (jackets on/off, zippers, buttons, shoes), toileting strategies, eating skills (utensils, drinking, etc.), and building skills by chaining activities. Melany Duffin – OT (Offered at least once)

Evolving Education Assistant World in Westwind. Share some resources and tips for supporting a range of areas,  including a few tech tips and an opportunity for participants to share some of the areas they’d like to see some support or resources developed in the future and an exploration of the ever evolving role of education assistants in Westwind. (No bribery but there will be a few takeaways at this session) Rick Gilson (Offered three times)

First Aid Training – Most of our colony EA’s will be taking the full extended day First Aid Training, joining us for lunch. The session will be 8:00am – 4:00pm. Their names have been gathered by Mr. Karl Peterson and they are pre-registered i the course which will also take place in Magrath. 

Presentations  Lunch 12:00 – 1:00   School teams meet from 2:10 – 2:45

Thank you for your support of this day.


Presenter Session One (8)

9:30 – 10:40

Session Two (8)

10:50 – 12:00

Session Three (9)

1:00 – 2:10

Conrad – Through the Looking Glass Yes Yes Yes
Rick – What it is, isn’t, how we all lead Yes Yes Yes
Tiffany – Nature Play and Traditional Games Yes Yes
Tiffany – Mindfulness In the Classroom Yes
Regan – Strategies through Speech and Communication Yes
Jocelyn – Using PODD Books Yes
Erin – Reflexes and Movement as stress buster Yes Yes
Kent – Good Grieving Yes
Kent – AD[H]D Impact and implications Yes Yes
Brandi – Understanding and Managing Anxiety Yes Yes
Brandi – Attachment disorder Yes
Michelle – What’s going on in the Brain Yes Yes Yes
Melanie – Pencils and Scissors Yes TBD
Melanie – Self Help Skills Yes TBD

Changing Our Behaviour to Influence Their’s

Throughout my career I’ve had some success and more than a few challenges along the way with students, and maybe even a few adults around those behaviour challenges that just seem to eat up the effectiveness of a great lesson, a class, a practice when coaching. I’m not sure it matters if the class is five 12 year old boys on a Sunday or 39 English 30-2 students on Monday or 50 football players on the bus on a five hour trip to Edmonton getting everyone on the same page and particularly creating an environment where everyone can excel, is a challenge and a worthy goal.

Magic can happen at anytime in any class, one on one teaching situation, coaching moment and the simple fact is that every student, player, parent, teacher, administrator can learn and can succeed. Setting the stage to reduce behaviours that inhibit the magic is a career long learning process.

I’d like to share the work of four authors for you consider and their three books. Each provides concrete suggestions for classroom and one-on-one work that can maybe put a little spark in our own practice in the classroom and in our other interactions as well as help those students who we perceive are struggling with behaviour and engagement in our classes.


First let me say that if you already are reading or have read any of these books I’d love to invite you to share the successes and struggles you may have had applying some of the suggestions in the book. I love Breaux and Whitaker’s (who’s written an awful lot on what good teachers, administrators etc. do) preface story, the challenge that a teacher presents is that “you just can’t teach (change the behaviour) of a student without support from home.” In response to the question the teacher to asked, “so you are staying that if an orphanage opened next door to this school tomorrow, you could not teach those children?”  Of course we could, it might not always be easy but we could. So what needs to change, in our practice, to reduce or eliminate the behaviours that negatively impact learning?  Each of these three authors present very specific examples that teachers can do, it might challenge our thinking and practice but they work, some more than others and some with different students than others but they work.

The first way from Breaux and Whitaker to improve behaviour: look at how you greet

Dave Burgess maintains a website/Blog

Doug Lemov’s Teach like a Champion Site with resources and video examples

A PDF copy of 50 Ways is available here.  And here’s a PDF to his presentation, “What Great Teachers do Differently.