Manage Your Stress for School Success: Keep Your Brain OPEN for learning!
Emotionally sound teaching is one of the underlying principles of the Orton-Gillingham approach (Gillingham & Stillman, 1997; McClelland, 1989; Wilkins, 2002).
The brain must feel safe in order to learn, yet students with learning disabilities often experience brain shut-down as a result of anxiety and frustration (Amen, 1998; Blakemore & Frith, 2005; Eide & Eide, 2011; Frank, 2002; Helmstetter, 1989; LeDoux, 2010; Ryan, 2004; Sarter & Markowitsch, 1985; Schultz, 2011; Selznick, 2012). This presentation will teach explicit strategies to put the student in the driver’s seat to tame anxiety and keep the brain on-line for learning.
The development of the Amygdala SPA strategy came from 42 years of working with and studying about students who struggle, first as a speech-language pathologist and even more powerfully from specializing in dyslexia for the past 12 years. Many professionals have contributed to this concept through their writings, presentations, and workshops (Couric, 2011; Farrell, 2009; Hallowell, 2004; Schultz, 2011; Stein, 2010).
This presentation will begin with an interactive demonstration of the neurological foundations and power of multisensory teaching (Blakemore & Frith, 2005; Cowley, 2012; Farrell, 2009; Geschwind, 1982; Gillingham & Stillman, 1997; McClelland, 1989; Wilkins, 2002), and will be followed by discussion of the need to keep one’s brain receptive to learning in light of the role anxiety and the amygdala play in interfering with learning (Eide & Eide, 2011; Frank, 2002; Ryan, 2004; Schultz, 2011).
Case studies, video examples, and multisensory strategies will be used to illustrate the concept of the Amygdala SPA. SPA is an acronym for the groups of concrete strategies that are explicitly taught to students: Self-talk (Frank, 2002; Helmstetter, 1989; Schultz, 2011; Stein 2010), Positive Mistake Correction (Farrell, 2009) and Advocate for yourself (or Ask for what you need) (Langston, 2002). Participants will be given index cards on which to write personal examples of Self-talk, Positive mistake correction, and Advocating for themselves and will role-play practicing these statements in small groups.
In discussing additions to the Amygdala SPA concept, the value of using a strong Eye Bridge (Johnson, 2004) in implementing the Advocacy part of the SPA will be discussed and illustrated, as well as the value of exercise (Ratey & Hagerman, 2008), in addition to selected use of literature and videos to inspire students with stories of people who have used encouraging self-talk, positive self-correction, and advocacy strategies in achieving success.
The presenter will share case studies of students who have benefited from the Amygdala SPA, in which they used these strategies to reverse the downward spiral of anxiety and negative self-talk in order to spiral upward toward success.
Hettie Johnson received her B.S. from Auburn University in 1970 and her M.A. from the University of Montevallo in 1972, both in speech-language pathology. She has taught in three university speech-language pathology programs as well as in school settings, hospitals, and nursing homes; she has primarily been in private practice since 1974.
She published Teaching Chaining to Unintelligible Children in Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, describing an original approach for intelligibility and language disorders. She has spoken at international conferences of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, the International Dyslexia Association, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Speech and Hearing Association of Alabama, as well as at numerous conferences and in-service training programs. She served three terms as Secretary of the Speech and Hearing Association of Alabama, has been President of the Mobile Area Speech and Hearing organization and is currently Vice-President of the Alabama Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (ALIDA).