Self-Driven: Why Promoting Student Autonomy is Crucial for Improving Mental Health and Academic Engagement

Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone who works with students was concerned about the escalating levels of anxiety, depression, and other stress-related mental health problems in children, teens, and young adults. Equally concerning are the current reports of low academic motivation and engagement in students from kindergarten through college.
In this workshop, Dr. Stixrud and Mr. Johnson will discuss a counterintuitive solution to the dual problems of poor student mental health and low student engagement – namely increasing young people’s sense of control over their own lives. Extensive research has shown that a healthy sense of control is imperative for positive mental health and that autonomy (i.e., a sense of control) is the key to healthy self-motivation. Although our first impulse when things are not going well for our children, in school or at home, is to try to exert more control, extensive research has shown that it is by increasing their own sense of control that we can re-engage them in their own education, promote their emotional well-being, and support healthy brain development. Dr. Stixrud and Mr. Johnson will discuss the neuropsychological underpinnings of a sense of control, the benefits that children and teens experience when adults foster autonomy, and the multiple ways in which schools can promote autonomy in students. Most of the ideas to be discussed were initially presented in their books, The Self-Driven Child and What Do You Say?

Ned Johnson

President & tutor-geek, PrepMatters

Bill Stixrud

Clinical neuropsychologist and Founder, The Stixrud Group

Session location and time will be published via the Festival App in late September.

Enhancing Teacher Effectiveness and Efficiency Through Learning Space Design

Join this conversation about how to optimize classroom environments for learning. Tested strategies, a review of research and an opportunity to learn from others will fill the learning experience. It is essential to allow our curriculum and instructional practices to be amplified by our spaces.

Robert Dillon

School Designer, Innovative School Designs

Session location and time will be published via the Festival App in late September.

Nurturing People of Passion

Are you looking for ways to improve overall staff wellbeing and reignite teachers’ innate passion? This session is designed to help educators and leaders apply positive psychology principles and coaching tools to enhance staff well-being and performance. Participants will learn about the importance of a strengths-based approach and will discover practical ways to nurture their people of passion.

Dean Clayden

Head of Primary Support, Wellington College China

Session location and time will be published via the Festival App in late September.

Empowered by the Human Design: Building Necessary Functional Skills

By attending Empowered by the Human Design: Building Necessary Functional Skills, you will engage in an experiential and instructional session where you will gain an understanding of how to leverage the functioning of the human brain and body in a way that optimizes learning. You will walk away with concrete proactive and responsive tools that you can implement immediately to support whole groups as well as individual students. This session is all about empowering you with the tools and skills to work smarter, not harder, because you are already working hard enough!

Katie Pagnotta

Educational Coach, Therapist, BBARS of Excellence

Session location and time will be published via the Festival App in late September.