Rather than a summary of Day 2 at the BCSSA Fall Conference, I wanted to go into more detail with what I thought was an outstanding presentation, by Dr. Stuart Shanker, in conversation with Surrey Superintendent of Schools, Mike McKay.
The full presentation is available here.
Some of the big ideas from the presentation:
- trajectories (one’s path) are largely set by the time the child enters school
- the child’s capacity for social interaction, symbolic thinking, functional language, problem solving and logical thinking, are largely set before they enter school
- the foundation for this massive development process is the child’s ability to be calmly focussed and alert – their ability for self-regulation
- a child is born 6-9 months prematurely
- If you get a kid in Grade 1 it is difficult to “fix” a child
A great deal of the presentation focussed on the stages of alertness and the key to keeping kids at level 4 — calmly focussed and alert. This was interesting for the adults in the room, as many thought how often they work with children functioning at levels 5 and 6.
4. Calmly focused and alert (optimal learning*)
In Self-Regulation: Calm, Alert, and Learning*, an article published this fall in Canada Education, Dr. Shanker says:
In short, self-regulation serves as a lens for understanding a child, his individual strengths and the areas that need work, and thus as a lens for understanding what we hope to accomplish in our teaching practices.
Dr. Shanker’s presentation and supporting research emphasized, once again, the need to focus on early childhood education. If we are going to make a difference, we need to make a difference with our very youngest children.
There are a number of great, supplementary resources on the work of Dr. Shanker, including a short video linked here on brain development. The slide deck (as referenced above) from the session is also rich with supporting information.
For the interest of everyone in the West Vancouver district reading this blog, both our Board Chair, Mary-Ann Booth, and I are in agreement that we should invite Dr. Shanker to West Vancouver to present.
Thanks to Kelly Spearman, Jennifer Towers, Michelle Wood, Cindy Dekker and Gary Kern who all assisted me with the notes from the presentation