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Professional Development Spotlight: 6 Quick, Expert-Led Video Chats You Can Watch at Home for Free


Hosted by a roster of respected Brookes authors and experts, each video chat brims with practical tips and skillful guidance on key topics, many of them uniquely relevant to the ways you’re teaching now. Read on for an introduction to half a dozen recent presentations (with links to recordings) that will give you an excellent return on a relatively modest time investment.

Quick links



1. Executive Skills and ADHD, presented by Erik Von Hahn

Executive function skills—which include the ability to sustain attention, follow directions, think flexibly, self-regulate, and more—are among the most accurate predictors of future success, but students with ADHD often struggle with one or more of these cognitive processes. Presenter Erik von Hahn, co-author of Essential Skills for Struggling Learners, quickly sketches the relationship between executive skills and ADHD, and then highlights a few simple strategies for supporting two of the most critical skills for students with attention issues: impulse control and working memory.

Get ready-to-use tips for:

  • Building rapport with students and helping them feel like valued members of the classroom
  • Assisting students with identifying patterns of impulsivity and forgetfulness
  • Developing reminder systems like working memory lists and non-verbal cues so students can gain insight into their difficulties, learn what strategies work for them, and eventually self-correct their behavior

Watch now



2. Self-Care in the Era of COVID-19, presented by Dyane Carrere

Our daily lives have experienced a major upheaval, with new demands placing an increased strain on our emotional resources. Walk away with practical strategies for building up emotional capital and avoiding stress overload in this can’t-miss video chat presented by Dyane Carrere, author of The Re-Set Process (a new book on trauma-informed behavior practices, coming in fall 2020). Carrere’s suggestions are focused on calming the neurological system and highlight the importance of:

  • You’ll learn why schedules should be predictable enough to make our brains happy, but also flexible enough to be responsive to your current emotional state. Also discussed are finding ways to populate your day with small, comforting moments of ritual.
  • Pause & Re-Set. Carrere outlines her two- to three-minute Pause and Re-Set process, a series of brief, spirit-renewing exercises that include gross motor movement, focused breathing, and brain-restoring mindfulness tasks.

Watch now




3. STEM Experiences for All Children at Home, presented by Angi Stone-MacDonald

Relaxed screen-time restrictions have become the new norm in many homes during extended school closures, but it’s still important to provide children with stimulating, real-world experiences that support their blossoming problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. In this idea-packed video chat, presenter Angi Stone-MacDonald, co-author of Engaging Young Engineers, illustrates how to use everyday items to tap into children’s boundless curiosity and provide them with fun, stimulating STEM experiences at home. Parents and educators will:

  • Learn the difference between open exploration and focused exploration.
  • See 10 key UDL questions you should ask about STEM activities to ensure children of different age and ability levels have the materials and supports they need to get the most out of their explorations.
  • Get ideas for constructing simple STEM experiences using empty hand soap containers, paper towel and toilet paper tubes, paper plates, empty shipping boxes, and more.

Watch now




4. Virtual Student Engagement, presented by Tim Knoster & Danielle Empson

Remote instruction via video conferencing technology has quickly gone from a specialty teaching tool to how the overwhelming majority of the nation’s students are currently learning. See how to boost student engagement on virtual learning platforms in this highly relevant presentation by Tim Knoster (co-author of The Teacher’s Pocket Guide for Positive Behavior Support) and Danielle Empson, from the McDowell Institute at Bloomsburg University.

Topics covered include:

  • Establishing (and periodically reinforcing) performance expectations with screen-sharing features
  • Tracking engagement through student comments, questions, and discussion threads
  • Using advance organizers and polling software to maximize students’ opportunities to respond
  • Dealing with disruptive behavior without muting or removing students from the virtual classroom
  • Thoughtfully acknowledging student efforts using private chat functions, emojis, and more

Watch now




5. Trauma-Sensitive Student Support During School Closures, presented by Jen Alexander

How can educators continue to support students emotionally without the face-to-face opportunities embedded throughout a typical school day? Get practical answers from trauma expert Jen Alexander in this engaging presentation. An experienced teacher, trainer, and author of Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools, “Ms. Jen” offers her best tips for supporting students who are struggling with the stress of prolonged isolation from their peers and the much-needed structure of in-person school.

You’ll receive a crash course on the basics of her trauma-sensitive approach, which builds on the assumption that all kids need to:

  • Feel safe: What do kids feel? What do they need?
  • Be connected: How can students maintain vital social connections during social distancing?
  • Get regulated: How can parents help kids make sense of their emotional reactions, and what activities promote healthy regulation?
  • Learn: What do students want to learn about (beyond academic subjects) and how can caregivers help broaden that knowledge base?

Watch now




6. Making Curriculum Modifications in Minutes, presented by Nicole Eredics

Full inclusion depends on students not only being included at the school and classroom levels, but also at the all-important curriculum level. Enhance your inclusion toolbox with some quick-and-easy curriculum modification ideas for elementary and middle school classrooms, in this invaluable video chat presented by Nicole Eredics, author of Inclusion in Action.

Nicole shares simple, specific instructional strategies for:

  • Altering the conceptual difficulty, educational goals, and instructional methods of a lesson so students of all abilities are included
  • Breaking down math, reading, and science content so it’s more accessible and achievable for all learners
  • Teaching students with intellectual disabilities material that is related to the curriculum, but in ways that are suited to their educational needs and IEP goals

Watch now



If you like the six chats highlighted in this article, be sure to check our page of upcoming Coffee Chats regularly in the coming weeks.  We’ll be scheduling more presentations on topics that matter, from authors and education experts you trust. Great for special education professional development, and more!