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NEALS Blog June 2020

9 Jun 2020 6:59 PM | Laura Foody (Administrator)

NEALS Summer Seminar Series

by Melissa Rubin, Principal at The Student First

Congrats to everyone! For better or worse, we survived the school year. That feels good to say - more so this year than any others. But I have to say, I’ve always loved June. Aside from being my birth month, June has always represented potential for me, especially in regards to professional development (PD). We now have more time to dedicate to reading, listening and participating in conferences and webinars which will help us support our students even better in the new academic year. With this in mind, I wanted to highlight some exciting events NEALS will be offering in the next few weeks, as well as some other PD opportunities. 

As a kickoff to NEALS’ virtual summer seminar series, Murielle St Paul, Associate Director of Academic Support at Milton Academy, and NEALS’ outgoing President, Susan Cole Ross, are planning a Zoom presentation and discussion for Wednesday, June 24 @ 1:00 PM to discuss learning specialists’ role in supporting students from non traditional backgrounds at our schools.  This conversation is overdue, and we are honored to have Murielle’s wisdom and ongoing research on the topic.  Further information will be on our discussion board, and we welcome your questions to target our discussion to your students’ needs. Email us at nelearningspecialists@gmail.com

Last week, Susan Cole Ross, NEALS’ President-elect, Laura Foody, and I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Robert Brooks. As you may remember, pre-COVID 19, Dr. Brooks was slotted as our keynote speaker for NEALS’ Annual Conference. Since we weren’t able to gather to hear him, Dr. Brooks has graciously agreed to join a Zoom conference call on Wednesday, July 22nd @ 1pm, for a discussion about resilience, positive mindsets, and building off of students’ strengths, or as he terms them, “islands of competence.”  In preparation for the discussion, Dr. Brooks has provided the following resources to serve as a foundation:  

I encourage you to review them, and PLEASE  submit any questions or topics you would like Dr. Brooks to address to nelearningspecialists@gmail.com. We will give him your questions ahead of time to ensure that the meeting is rich and targeted for those attending.


On Wednesday August 19th at 1:00 PM, we plan to discuss Best Practices in “The New Normal”. These conversations will be held as a whole group, as well as in departmental breakout sessions and/or elementary/middle/secondary school breakout sessions. Of course, we remain open to suggestions for specific topics and speakers, so please let us know (nelearningspecialists@gmail.com)!

Other organizations are offering PD events as well. Architects for Learning (AFL) is continuing to offer their free “Virtual Teacher’s Lounge” at least once each week. Here is the link to sign up for the Teacher's Lounge: http://www.architectsforlearning.com/teachers-lounge/. Topics have ranged from “supporting sentence-level writing in online instruction” to reading comprehension. June 12th, the topic will be “Deep Dive into Executive Functions” (https://zoom.us/j/504645880 meeting ID 504-645-880 if you are logging in with the app). Each week, AFL sends an email to registered users indicating the next week’s time and topic.  I highly recommend attending these Zoom calls as they are informative but informal.

The Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) is hosting a summer virtual conference (SAIS Summer Virtual Conference Info) at the end of the month as well. Key topics include “addressing learning loss” and “building hybrid courses”.  

The Landmark College Institute for Research and Training, in conjunction with the Learning Disabilities Association, is offering a course, “Student Engagement, Self-Regulation and Motivation” (course info) beginning the end of June. It will “examine a range of strategies and systems to support, actualize, and sustain engagement in diverse learners.” 

These are the “big hitters” for me. However, if you learn of any others, please share with us on our Discussion Board! Also, if you do end up “attending” a conference, a webinar, or any other PD event, please share your takeaways. We would love to post the information on our site so other NEALS members can benefit as well.

Finally, please understand that, as enthusiastic I am about these PD opportunities, I’m realistic too. We need some downtime. We need to take advantage of this time to recover and rejuvenate as I have a feeling we have a long road ahead. Self care is not selfish! I just wanted to share some options we have to help us get ready :) 


Join GoodReads and check out NEALS’ list there of suggested reading. We have included books related to anxiety, executive functioning, and assessment thus far. 

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