2nd Australasian Conference for Neuroscience, Learning and Well-being



 March 2020 - Melbourne, Australia
Parenting Evening Seminar -

Post-Conference Workshop -
Melbourne, Australia


Rita Princi-Hubbard 

PhD Candidate - University of Queensland

B.Psych(Hons), M.Psych(Clin), MAPS, FCCLP, MIAAN (Cert)

Director - iN-Ed 

Director - Princi Consulting

See Full Bio

Master of Ceremonies




Children - The most misunderstood beings on the planet!


I have come to believe that children may be the most misunderstood beings on our planet! The misunderstanding can occur throughout childhood and adolescence. The misunderstanding can be widespread among caregivers and educators and perhaps even for some therapists who are required to focus solely on behaviour and diagnosis.  Unfortunately, this focus can then lead adults to seek strategies to control the child’s behaviour rather than to understand the reason for the behaviour and to connect and engage with the child.  Caregivers may become frustrated when the child criticizes, doesn’t listen, argues with their siblings or peers, or is scared or worried about a relatively neutral object or situation. Educators may feel helpless when a child doesn’t join the group, doesn’t complete their activity, distracts others, hides under a table or lashes out. 


In the adults’ defence, behavioural and fear-based approaches, which suggested that children need to be controlled or managed, have been recommended for decades by various “experts” (e.g., Skinner, 1958; Spock, 1988). Perhaps the perceived lack of control adults feel when children’s behaviour is misunderstood may lead to a belief that their caregiving or teaching is inadequate. Therefore, it is important to explain neuroscience principles of child development in order to inform and support adults in relationships with children. 


The focus of this Keynote is to clarify the misunderstanding while also acknowledging how the misunderstanding occurs. Neuroscience principles highlight the importance of attachment and safety to the child’s neural development, which then impacts on educational outcomes and wellbeing. Learning that occurs in supportive and thriving environments with teachers who are attuned to the student’s psychological and academic needs provides the platform for children to reach their full potential; emotionally, socially, physically and academically.


Professor Selena Bartlett

Group Leader Neuroscience and Obesity, Translational Research Institute, Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation, QUT



 How to apply neuroplasticity neuroscience to help educators drive a growth mindset


Objectives: Understand the principles of neuroplasticity neuroscience that underpins a growth mindset. Understand how psychological distress and trauma impact cognition and learn how to apply neuroplasticity to improve social and emotional learning and educational engagement in children, adolescents and adults.


Professor Bartlett will deliver a presentation and an interactive workshop to engage and educate you about your brain and how it is affected by stress and how this leads to cognitive impairments that disrupt learning and engagement in education. Understanding how to train the brain to manage stress and improve cognition is one of the keys to develop a growth mindset and social and emotional learning skills (SEL). We often hear that having a growth mindset and SEL skills are essential for the 21st century, however, there are few tools available that can be implemented in our daily lives, schools and communities. Scientists now understand that humans have the capacity to change our brains forever using the principles of neuroplasticity. The workshop will focus on the core principles to teach you how to train the brain to handle stress, improve cognition and SEL and develop a growth mindset.


Two Learning Objectives for participants will be to 1. Understand the neuroscience behind developing a growth mindset and 2. Help educators apply the principles of neuroplasticity to drive a growth mindset for themselves and their students.

Professor Selena Bartlett is an award winning neuroscientist and a Group Leader in Neuroscience and Brain Fitness at the Translational Research Institute in the School of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Health, QUT. She is a trained pharmacist and medically trained neuroscientist and was the Director of the Preclinical Development Group at the Gallo Centre at the University of California San Francisco for 8 years. In 2014, she launched the Brain Vitality Index mobile app and presented a TEDx talk about brain fitness and the neuroplasticity revolution. She won the Lawrie Austin Award for Neuroscience in 2019 from the Australian Neuroscience Society, Women in Technology (WiT) Biotech Outstanding Achievement Award and the Biotech Research Award. She recently launched a book called Smashing Mindset.

Professor Robyn Gillies


Professor of Education and a Chief Investigator in the Science of Learning Research Centre. The University of Queensland


Professor Robyn Gillies' major research interests are in the learning sciences, classroom discourses, small group processes, classroom instruction, and student behaviour. Professor Robyn Gillies has worked extensively in both primary and secondary schools to embed STEM education initiatives into the science curriculum. 

Robyn M. Gillies PhD is a Professor of Education at The University of Queensland. Her research focuses on the social and cognitive aspects of learning through social interaction. She has spent over twenty years researching how students can be encouraged to engage in class and learn. Her research spans both primary and secondary schools and has focused on inquiry learning in science and mathematics, teacher and peer-mediated learning, student centred learning, including cooperative learning, and classroom discourses and processes related to learning outcomes. Her recommendations on how teachers can translate research into practice have been widely profiled in the international literature and on the website of the Smithsonian Science Education Center in Washington, DC.



Cultivating a Growth Mindset: Teaching with dialogue to grow intelligence.


Did you know  "intelligence can grow". We have traditionally thought of intelligence as a fixed attribute but a number of studies in neuroscience, cognitive science and educational psychology demonstrate that intelligence is more fluid than we thought –it is learnable. Intelligence grows when students have opportunities to work in classrooms where teachers actively teach students how to engage critically and constructively with others’ ideas, challenge perspectives, and discuss alternative propositions. These are important discourse moves that students need to learn if they are to talk and reason effectively together. In these classrooms, students learn to develop a growth mindset where working hard to learn new things makes you smarter –it makes your brain grow new connections. This presentation will canvas the research on the role of dialogue and academically productive talk in growing intelligence and social competencies, discuss developments in neuroscience that support this claim, and share findings from classroom-based research highlighting particular practices teachers can use to foster these dialogic exchanges and help students develop a growth mindset.


Thedy Veliz 



California USA - Neuropsychotherapy - Working with Youth and Their Families 

Thedy Veliz is a Relational & Developmental Neuro-Therapeutic CoachSM, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), a Certified Clinical Neuropsychotherapy Practitioner, and a Certified Resilience Coach (CreC) in private practice in Los Gatos, California, USA.  Veliz is founder of People Systems, a leadership & human development consulting firm through which he works with youth, adults, families, and couples who are experiencing challenges caused by behavioral, relational and emotional dynamics.

Thedy recognizes that children’s symptoms communicate the relational dynamics of the family, and uses a family systems approach to encourage parents to become curious about what aspects of the family dynamics might be showing up as challenging behaviors in their children.  Thedy uses “Relational Neuro-Narratives” as the active ingredient of his Parent Relational & Developmental Neuropsychotherapy Protocol which guides his treatment of youth by working with their parents.


Thedy combines 15 years of corporate engineering design and finance management experience with his experience in motivational speaking, leadership development, and his most recent education and training in neuropsychotherapy, counseling psychology, human development, and resilience & life coaching to provide families with a neuropsychotherapeutic path towards wellness by focusing on the power of dyadic relationships as the medium for healing.


Thedy specializes in working with fathers and sons, and the entire family by utilizing “neuro-therapeutic coaching” in order to assist individuals to achieve resilience through personal fulfillment and creativity while becoming social innovation catalysts.


Thedy has a Masters in Counseling Psychology (MA) from Santa Clara University, a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Notre Dame, and a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) from Iowa State University.



“The Ferrari Brain” - Creativity or Non-Compliance?

Developmental neurogenomics informed pedagogical interventions for challenging students



“What if the children about whom we worry most were actually those with the greatest promise? What if those youth whose lives are marked by turmoil and difficulty were plausibly heirs to the brightest, most creative futures? What if seemingly blighted and troubled childhoods could give way, under conditions of encouragement and support, to adulthoods bearing not simply normal lives and passable achievement, but deep, rich relationships and inspired accomplishment?  What if even the very real burdens of a child’s uncommon fragility could be reshaped, under responsive conditions, into the tangible advantages of human resilience? What if, in short, the apparent frailties and disarray of some young lives were redeemable – through the alchemy of nurturing families or communities and transformative care?

- W. Thomas Boyce, The Orchid and the Dandelion

Over the last few decades, research findings have been providing evidence suggesting that 15-20% of young people are more “sensitive” to the effect of their environment than the remaining 80-85%.  This sensitivity manifests itself in multiple ways including increased behavioral, emotional, and learning challenges; along with hypersexuality, risky behavior, addiction, and physical illnesses. It turns out that the neuroendocrine makeup of these youth is a result of a complicated interplay between evolution, genetics, and epigenetics that has resulted in them having what I call a “Ferrari” brain which predisposes them to becoming easily dysregulated; but also to being idealistic, creative and intelligent in very unconventional ways.


In essence, these children have brains that become easily bored, question rules and authority, and require constant stimulation.  But they are also very empathic, feel the injustice in the world, and are interested in complex social, political, and philosophical issues at a very early age.  These children require a different learning style that is more “hands on” in order to keep them engaged while providing a relationally safe environment required for the adequate balance of “here and now” neurochemicals (e.g., oxytocin, serotonin, endogenous opioids) and dopamine.


Researchers are learning that creative people can score high on both psychopathology AND psychological health as this is the nature of their “messy” unconventional minds.  Thus, how important adults in their lives see them will make a big difference into how they see themselves. These children constantly feel misunderstood by caregivers and peers; and consequences, shaming, and trying to change the way their neuroendocrine system has been evolutionarily designed would have adverse effects for these young people and those around them.  They are usually carriers of self-regulatory genetic alleles that make them susceptible to the environment “for better and for worse.” This means that a child or adolescent that is displaying a behavioral problem might not be in the right learning environment for his brain to be motivated to learn.  However, most educational systems were designed before we had an understanding of the developmental neuroendocrine differences of these children, and thus they might not be receiving a fair chance at developing their own unique talents.


This keynote presentation will provide the theory and research to help educators conceptualize “difficult” students’ challenges by using practical interventions to enhance the environmental experience needed for optimal learning by these children.  How caregivers conceptualize these children’s difference can make them or break them as many of them end up engaging in self-destructive behavior. And… how educators engage with and relate to these sensitive children and the resulting classroom dynamics has been shown to affect not only their education and future career opportunities, but also their mental and physical health.

Dr David Collins

Clinical Psychologist




David is a doctoral trained clinical psychologist who has worked with young people for many years. David has worked in a variety of settings in public mental health, been an honorary research fellow with the University of Melbourne, and has been involved in local and international research collaborations developing treatment programs for a range of psychological difficulties.


Understanding and Harnessing Student Motivation in the Classroom:

A Brain Based Perspective


Every student enters the classroom with a unique set of strengths. Understanding what drives every student to achieve is a critical part of a teacher’s role. A teacher’s curiosity for knowing what energises a student’s behaviour towards a given goal is important, but understanding what is happening when motivational systems become disrupted is also important. Many different variables influence a student’s motivational state, including internal brain states, genetic factors, environmental and social conditions, as well as past experiences of learning at home and in the classroom. Disruption in any one of these can significantly impact on motivation, resulting in problematic responses ranging from aggressive behaviour to disengagement.  Working through concepts such as implicit versus explicit motivation, motivational contagion, the benefits and limits of willpower, and the social basis of motivation (as it relates to student-student and teacher-student relationships), this talk will aim to give practical information on how to engage students on learning tasks. A special focus will be on how fear based motivational systems may be effective in producing short term academic outcomes, but may be less effective in producing lifelong learners. 

David has designed and delivered training for Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, which is the peak body of youth mental health in Australia. He also sits on the board of the International Association of Applied Neuroscience. David has delivered keynote addresses across Australia focusing on the developing brain.

David has delivered workshops for teachers, psychologists, counsellors, parents, and students across Australia in the neuroscience of young brains. David specialises in practical and entertaining workshops that attempt to distil the complex nature of the brain into something immediately understandable and usable. David is also the director of Braingrow, a whole school well-being program running in schools across Australia teaching young people about the neuroscience of well-being

Dr Sonja Vanderaa

Senior Training Consultant,

Behavior consultant specializing in whole school approaches to positive
behaviour support, functional behaviour assessment, trauma sensitive practice and
staff wellbeing.


Sonja has worked as a teacher, special educator, professional learning leader and
behavioural consultant. Most recently, she has been employed as a senior training
consultant and worked with educators across Australia.

Sonja brings more thantwenty years’ experience working with school communities, inter-agency teams andprofessional groups.Her award-winning PhD was on school-based functional behaviour assessment.Sonja has a particular interest in improving the social and academic inclusion ofstudents with challenging behaviours and intensive support needs.



Resilience in the school environment: resources for educators


“A healthy mind is one that monitors energy and information flow with a stability, depth and clarity that enables it to then be able to modulate that flow with strength and specificity toward integration. Knowing this, we can actually offer specific practices to take a troubled mind, one at risk for un-health and dis-ease, and, with intention and practice, help cultivate a healthy and resilient mind.” – Dan Siegel, Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology

This interactive workshop explores practical examples of how we can use our body to calm our mind and our mind to calm our body. Resources for use before, during and after stressful experiences will be considered, drawing on research from the fields of neurobiology and neurophysiology with a specific focus on embodiment. Participants will be invited to reflect on their professional self-care practices and to consider ways to expand their repertoire of resources for resilience. 


Dr Anne Southall

Course Co-ordinator

Master of Inclusion and Diversity.

ASSC College of Arts,

Social Sciences and Commerce,


Anne Southall has over 30 years experience working in the field of special education and mainstream primary schools in both Australia and the UK. A Principal for many years, she developed an interest in the education of children from traumatic backgrounds and interventions which respond to the profound and long term impact on their brain development. In her current role she lectures at La Trobe University in student well-being while completing her PhD. Her research involves working with special education teachers to develop more trauma informed pedagogies which might alter the trajectory for these students.




What does it mean to be a trauma informed school? 


As education systems become more aware of the profound impact of traumatic experience in early childhood, we have seen an increase in programs and policies that claim to be ‘trauma informed’. A review of this literature provides a range of responses to neuroscientific understandings, giving rise to a wide range of initiatives and frameworks being trialled in Australian schools. Anne will draw from current research being conducted by La Trobe University on some of these early trials, to explore the key principles involved in a ‘trauma informed’ education.

Jacqueline Reid


CPsychol, Assoc Fellow BPS, MAPS

Team Leader

Student Services

2018 Churchill Fellowship Recipient


Strategic Leadership and Education Reform specialising in mental health and disability, Catholic Education of WA

MEd (Master of EducationProfessional Training Course for Developmental and Educational Psychology, University of Birmingham)

Ms Jacqueline Reid has worked in the area of disability and mental health in Australia and the United Kingdom for over 30 years. Her work has been predominately with children, young people and families in education. She has held roles of School Principal, Consultant (private and government sectors), Chartered Developmental and Educational Psychologist and as a Manager Disability for WA State Government leading disability support services and reform across the state. She has also been the Deputy Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Disability.

Jacqueline’s current role is with Catholic Education Western Australia as Strategic Leader in developing and implementing system wide initiatives. She has recently returned from overseas on a Churchill Fellowship where she examined the support of mental health in schools.

She holds Bachelor degrees in Science, Education and Psychology and a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Birmingham, England. She recently completed a PGC of Leadership at the Notre Dame University within the School of Business

Jacqueline has extensive local, national and international links with a range of consultative and reference groups on disability. She is recent Chairperson of the Australian Psychological Society’s Child, Adolescent and Family Psychology Group. Jacqueline also sat on the Western Australian Ministerial Advisory Council for Disability.

Jacqueline is passionate about human rights and the role of education in supporting communities out of poverty. She is on the Board of Education Cambodia and is actively involved both here and in Cambodia with emphasis on developing support for children and young adults with disabilities.





The Importance of Trauma-Informed Schools practice in Schools among other things

Research states that up to 20% of children and young people will have a mental health issue or condition. In students with a disability that can be higher.  The information from this presentation demonstrates the increasing role of schools in supporting the mental health of children and young people. Trauma-Informed Schools practice is prevalent across education systems and this will be highlighted as part of the presentation with reference to the project in WA that Jacqueline has led the past four years.   The Presentation is an overview of recent Churchill Fellowship study into mental health and well-being in schools and systems around the world.


Learning Objectives: Participants will understand the -


  • Concept of mental health in schools

  • Prevalence of mental health issues

  • Impact of mental health issues

  • Key focus of Churchill Fellowship research

  • Current practice – general observations of countries visited

  • Governance – policy and practice

  • Support for schools

  • Support for leaders

  • Support for students

  • Promotion and Prevention – Tier 1

  • Early intervention – Tier 1

  • Targeted support – Tier 2

  • Case management – Tier 3


Karen Ferry  


Counsellor, Educational Consultant, Certified Neuropsychotherapist

DipEd. B.Ed, MCoun, IAAN Certified


Karen Ferry is an educator with experience in both primary and secondary classrooms. Her roles have included classroom teaching, administration and working with families in home education environments. She has provided professional assistance to educators in Australia and in many countries around the world. Karen is also a Counsellor (Master of Counselling, University of Queensland) and a Certified Neuropsychotherapist. She now works in her own clinical practice in Melbourne, specializing in the well-being of young people, particularly those who have experienced loss, grief, anxiety and trauma. 

Her work also includes assisting school staff with strategies to reach students who struggle behaviorally and find school challenging.  Students who have adopted patterns of behaviour detrimental to their well-being. She has a passion for enriched environments that inspire, challenge and empower students to reach beyond their perceived abilities; school environments where every child experiences the reward and excitement of learning because they are free of anxiety, threat and fear. 


Karen has presented at conferences, community groups, schools and youth groups. Her studies into brain science and neuropsychotherapy has enabled her to incorporate excellent educational practice with the neurobiological evidence behind why certain strategies are effective and other approaches can be detrimental to student learning. 


Karen believes that an understanding of the brain, it’s development and environmental influences, provides the lens to view current school strategies, facilitate change if necessary, and empower teachers, support staff and administrators, so that the school environment can provide a safe and highly effective learning experience for all children.



What Works and Why! 

Environments That Capture Curiosity, Enhance Learning and Promote Student Wellbeing


Teachers are aware of what methods and strategies work to enhance learning but many have never really known why.  Recent neuroscience findings have significant implications both for the future of classroom teaching and school management as a whole. Neuroscience has given us a greater understanding of brain development and provides us with insights into the formation of neural pathways and the brain’s ability to change (neuroplasticity), and learn.   Knowing that behaviour development and motivational schemas are shaped by early life experiences provides insight into the importance of providing learning environments of acceptance, inclusion and security. When children feel safe, motivational schemas of approach develop and strengthen curiosity and learning. A teacher can intentionally aim to reduce a student’s inclination toward avoidance behaviours and promote a positive approach towards learning, peer interactions and life in general.

Robert Rostolis is the current Principal of Diamond Creek East Primary School. Robert has been Principal at Diamond Creek East Primary School for the past 24 years. In his capacity as principal, he has developed significant leadership skills to enable the learning community to build a culture of teamwork and mutual respect underpinned by a well-being focus.


Robert has an avid interest in positive psychology and neuroscience and believes that educators can make a positive contribution to all stakeholders through modelling and developing fun and informative brain based activities in the form of rituals, presentations, programs etc. that assist in encouraging growth and a positive mindset. In essence providing lifelong strategies to promote brain fitness and self-care.

Stephen Campbell is the current Assistant Principal at Diamond Creek East Primary School. Stephen is a passionate educator with a keen interest in helping young people reach their potential. Stephen has been a member of the Diamond Creek East Primary School staff for the last 8 years and enjoys playing an active role in the development of the school’s Well-being Program.

Stephen has worked closely with the school’s leadership team and expert consultants in the development of a revolutionary two day ‘Brain Fitness’ Conference which was delivered to the school’s Grade 5 and 6 students in 2017. The depth of knowledge and recall of key learnings and strategies acquired is still resonating throughout the school community.

Josh Gee is the Well-being Coordinator and a Grade 5/6 teacher at Diamond Creek East Primary school. Josh has an interest in well-being and wants to help students become more resilient. Josh has been a teacher at Diamond Creek East Primary School for 4 years. He has assisted the staff and students at Diamond Creek East Primary School in the development of strategies to support mindfulness, gratitude and positive psychology.

Maria Ruberto 

Director, Psychologist, Clinical Neuropsychotherapy Practitioner





Maria Ruberto’s work is dynamic, interactive and spirited. Her application of psychology is anchored by research in neuroscience and brain function - and framed by the science of optimism. A psychologist with over 22 years of clinical and industry experience, Maria delivers practical workshops and professional education to forward thinking organisations. Maria is focused on increasing the capacity and performance of individuals and teams who rely on highly tuned relationships and emotional intelligence to achieve professional, organisational and client success.

Positive health activates well-being and success follows authenticity.

Delivering professional learning in schools is a privilege but transferring knowledge to influence change can be challenging. Schools are busy places and for staff to be told that there is a "new" approach to consider, the first issue faced is the cognitive and emotional defences that are raised when staff believe there will be "more" work.  I will briefly talk about the Neuropsychotherapy approach to creating readiness, and leadership factors which enable growth promotion and learning cultures within school systems.


Teaching Brain Fitness to School Aged Children

The latest research shows that Australian students are currently suffering unprecedented rates of developing mental health problems. Building a health curriculum is therefore a social imperative to educate and promote positive growth, which serves not only to mitigate mental ill-health, but also foster greater neural capacity for learning outcomes and overall student success. In this session, delegates will be given theoretical context of the impact of stress on the brain and how this interferes with the learning process. We will explore the triune brain model [in a way which can also be presented to students], and the interplay of certain neurotransmitters in relation to learning. An overview to the main areas of the brain that highly align to resilience will be presented and how we can teach these concepts to children up to middle school, to provide the impetus for regulatory behaviours around motivation and attention. 

Character resources have been created by a team of educators to teach brain-based strategies to young children as a prevention against developing mental health problems. The characters take a narrative approach to help children understand the function of their brains under stress and what they can do to manage their body’s responses. The PERMAPLUS model of wellbeing is applied to bring context to the role the characters play in the development of resilience. The characters represent scientific strategies and enable children to apply them with confidence and meaning. Examples will show a whole school approach and footage of what it could look like within educational settings.


Teaching Brain Fitness to School Aged Children

The workshop will apply the triune brain model as context to the Bee Hive Characters which underpin the learnings delivered to students via story and concept. Each character will be defined and described to their role in wellbeing. The characters will be described and brought to life as the neuroscience is explained and the characters act out their wellbeing tools. Two characters will be explored in detail together with live demonstrations of content delivery. Delegates will participate in character activities to demonstrate how this can be applied in the classroom.

Learning Outcomes: 

1. To understand brain function that relates to learning and brain health 

2. To use teachable concepts to primary aged children on mental fitness 

3. Become familiar with the Mental Fitness Characters that can be used with ease with 

children and help identify early experiences of mental health problems and how to address the symptoms and build wellbeing

Rose Jost
Melbourne Girls Grammar School

Rose Jost is an educational wellbeing professional, with a background in psychology, collaborative therapy and program development.

As a foundational member of the world-first Wellbeing Coaching program at Melbourne Girls Grammar School, Rose and her colleagues were responsible for designing and implementing a model for individual wellbeing that focuses on identity, values, emotional agility and accountability.  The Wellbeing Coaching model posits that wellbeing and learning are synonymous, individually determined and require flexible and nuanced approach for future success.

With a focus on policy and evidence-based best practice in wellbeing and education, Rose is currently completing her Master of Cognitive Psychology and Educational Practice. 

Emma Grant
Braemar College

Emma is an accomplished wellbeing educator and passionate advocate for young people learning to self manage and develop a repertoire of wellbeing strategies and skills, while paying equal mind to their social and emotional skills, cognitive function and sense of belonging and purpose.

Emma’s career successes span Australian Champion rower and International Professional cyclist, with a career as a teacher in between, followed by roles as Director of Coach Education at Cycling Australia, a pioneering Wellbeing Coach at Melbourne Girls Grammar School, and now Teacher and Wellbeing Educator at Braemar College. As a foundational member of the world-first Wellbeing

Emma’s career successes span Australian Champion rower and International Professional cyclist, with a career as a teacher in between, followed by roles as Director of Coach Education at Cycling Australia, a pioneering Wellbeing Coach at Melbourne Girls Grammar School, and now Teacher and Wellbeing Educator at Braemar College. As a foundational member of the world-first Wellbeing Coaching program at Melbourne Girls Grammar School, Emma and her colleagues were responsible for designing and implementing a model for individual wellbeing that focuses on identity, values, emotional agility and accountability. 


Emma has a thirst for knowledge and a natural energy that is devoted to the welfare of others, as evident in her extensive skill set as a teacher, mentor, coach and director.  She holds a Master of Education (Student Wellbeing), has a focus on
adolescent psychology and her work focuses on her core value of understanding human behaviour in the broad context of the person, the situation and the culture. The Wellbeing Coaching model that Emma co-created posits that wellbeing and learning are synonymous, individually determined and require flexible and nuanced approach for future success. Emma firmly believes that truly knowing a person and understanding the relationship between this and their behaviour is critical in maximising the learning that is so essential for growth as the ‘whole person’. 



Wellbeing is Learning: the case for the adolescent brain, and the need

for individualised wellbeing.

Wellbeing in Education is not a new concept, however there is a gap in cohesive, consistent ideas around its value and how it looks. As a result, wellbeing is often considered an adjunct to academics, and is mostly a top-down process.

The adolescent brain is both a learning organ and an emotional centre, and in order to function well, it requires understanding, balance, challenge and rest.  The educational imperative is to pay equal mind to students’ social and emotional learning, their cognitive function and their sense of belonging and purpose, if we want them to reach their academic potential. 

A growing body of evidence stresses that we, as educators, compliment the focus on academics with the development of the social and emotional skills and competencies that are equally essential for students to thrive in school, career and life. We know that during adolescence, young people search for a sense of self and personal identity, through an intense exploration of personal values, beliefs, and goals.

Now in its 3rd year, The Melbourne Girls Grammar School Wellbeing Coaching Model recognises that each student requires her own, personalised wellbeing approach. Predicated on the evidence base for the requirements of the adolescent brain, coaches and students co-construct a wellbeing partnership that supports their senior years journey. 

Closing Practical Interactive Workshop

Bringing It All Together!

Conference Presenters


In this closing practical interactive workshop, the key points of the Conference will be summarized by linking neuroscience principles with well being in order to maintain success in all areas of learning: academically, emotionally and socially.  In that regard, the interactive workshop will reinforce brain-based strategies to shift the focus from non-compliance to ways to engage and connect with students, especially with students who have experienced trauma. The closing workshop will reiterate the importance of the teacher-student relationship, the importance of teacher self-care and emphasize the focus on relationships.  Conference attendees will then be invited to ask the Conference Presenters questions about specific cases that they are currently trying to address so that the concepts outlined can be directly applied to each specific case.


This closing workshop will also introduce Wednesday’s 1-day Workshop - Embracing different learning styles to enhance student well-being and social justice – including the Parenting Session on Tuesday evening - Parenting with YoUR brain in mind.

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