Positive Schools Conference 2014

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Last Thursday I had the absolute privilege of speaking and presenting at the 2014 Melbourne Positive Schools Conference.

I had not heard of this conference previously which was quite surprising as those presenting and speaking were, and of course are, of extremely high quality and experts in their respected fields. The turn out also of attendees was very large which made being there all that more worthwhile.

I arrived slightly early as I tend to do when speaking and presenting and although having been at this venue before, the Melbourne Convention Centre, I still wanted to ensure I knew where I was going and where my commitments would take place.

My specific role on the day was to present alongside Simon Shaw, an Education Development Executive from Apple, focusing on supporting diverse learners with iPad technology. Something that I would say I am somewhat knowledgeable about as I am currently teaching in a 1:1 iPad setting and know that within my own class I have a diverse range of learners with a diverse range of learning needs. Something I would be confident in saying most educators would experience no matter where they taught and with whatever year level. The presentation itself went very well with Simon giving an outstanding demonstration of the iPad devices accessibility features, several of which I was not aware of! The accessibility features within an iPad are extremely powerful and can certainly make learning to specific students a lot more accessible if used correctly. Click on the image below to find out more about Apple’s iOS Accessibility Features. I have also embedded my own presentation below this via slideshare. The presentation was originally a keynote that I have converted to a Powerpoint so it may view a little… sketchy.

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Prior to presenting the above, I was also asked to sit alongside several experts (not that I rate myself as an expert) as part of the Technology and Mental Health Panel, which was to be hosted and ran by Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg, one of Australia’s leading child and adolescent psychologists. A person you may recognise from televisions Channel Seven’s ‘SunRise’ program. I was unsure as to what to expect from this opportunity and to be honest I was a tad nervous prior, especially once I witnessed where this was to take place.

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Once I realised also who I was to be sitting alongside, listed below, made this experience all the more nerve racking. ­čśë

Those that I was sharing the stage with, apart from Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg were;

  • Head of Facebook policy for Australian and New Zealand,┬áMia Garlick
  • National┬áeSmart manager (The Alannah and Madeline Foundation),┬áJudi Fallon
  • Adolescent Health Physician,┬áProfessor David Bennett
  • Leading behaviour expert and clinical psychologist,┬áProfessor Tim Sharp
  • Positive Schools chair and social psychologist,┬áDr Helen Street
  • Head of Google Education (Asia-Pacific region),┬áSuan Yeo
  • Lawyer and senior law lecturer at Edith Cowan University,┬áToby Nisbet

A fair list you would say, yes? And then there was me… ­čśë Once the panel was underway I found it to be a great experience. The questions and discussions that were led by Dr. Carr-Gregg were terrific with of course a major focus on adolescent behaviour, health and technology use. This linked closely as you would imagine with social media use, especially facebook, and the issues that technology poses relating to cyberbullying. All panel members were exceptional to be sitting alongside and I personally did my best to not sound like a complete novice when fielding questions!


Next year I would dearly love to attend again but this time sit on the other side of the fence and listen to all the other terrific presentations that were happening throughout the day. I did manage to cash in on Suan Yeo’s Google Presentation which was great to hear as well as the end of┬áProfessor Tim Sharp’s presentation which was also wonderful.

I will finish by sharing a TED Talk that I had not seen before that Professor Tim Sharp displayed. Essentially it shows how a particular person, Phil Hansen, took his disability and turned that into a mind blowing skill and talent. A key message being by that embracing his disability he was able to create absolute masterpieces and not let his limitation hold him back from what he loved! A GREAT message for our students!

And to completely ends this Post, I need to thank Positive Schools chair and social psychologist, Dr Helen Street as well as the Apple team for allowing me this opportunity. So Thank You!


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