Indicative Conference Program

Indicative and subject to change without notice

8:30am Registration

9:00am Welcome and welcome to country

9:30am Keynote: We All Have a Brain – They all Work the Same: Becoming a Brainwise Teacher

Room 3

Kirke Olsen Psy.D

Although sometimes it may not seem like it, we all have a brain, and they all work the same. If we learn a few brain basics it can help our teaching while it also helps our own physical and mental health. Working with difficult to teach students is stressful, sometimes discouraging, but there is always hope that in the future that it will be put into action. We will spend about an hour together learning a few foundational facts about our brains that will help us better understand our students and ourselves. For example, why are trusting relationships so important in the classroom? Why is that really difficult student (you know the one I mean) acting that way? There are easy to understand brain systems that we can use to build routines into our day that make the work more rewarding while it helps our students learn.

Kirke Olson, Psy.D. is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and a New Hampshire Licensed Clinical Psychologist. He has taught and been working in public and private schools for nearly 40 years at the preschool, elementary, middle, and high school levels. He has had a long-term fascination with resilience that began in the early 1990s with his Doctoral Dissertation A Narrative Study of Resilience in Physically Abused People.
He is author of ‘The Invisible Classroom: Relationships, Neuroscience and Mindfulness in Schools’ published by W. W. Norton & Company in 2014. The book was awarded an honorable mention as a favorite book of 2014 by Greater Good at University of California Berkeley and recommended by the Association of College and Research Libraries.
Dr Olson is Secretary of GAINS (Global Association for Interpersonal Neurobiology Studies), co-owner of The Positivity Company, a graduate of the first international class on Positive Psychology and Authentic Happiness led by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. and the first Interpersonal Neurobiology Intensive with Dan Siegel, MD.
Kirke holds a Doctor of Psychology Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University New England, a Master’s Degree in Industrial Psychology from University of Nebraska (Omaha) and a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from West Virginia Wesleyan College.

10:30am Morning tea

Room 4

11:00am – 12 noon Group A choose 1 of 3


Connect – Applications for Brainwise Teaching


Kirke Olsen

Let’s dive deeper into what you can actually do during your teaching day, as well as your time away from teaching. If you are going to keep doing this difficult work you must care for yourself. Together we will answer your questions, try out some mindfulness techniques and if we have time some ‘brain exercises’ you can use for yourself.


Educate – If I can count do they?


Christine Tully, Melbourne Polytechnic

This session will showcase some numeracy activities that have engaged learners. Participants will try the activities and discuss how they could be altered to meet the needs of different learners. There will also be an opportunity to bring along any activities that participants would like to share. The workshop is planned as an interactive session and participants are encouraged to bring along any issues that they might have in the teaching and learning of numeracy. Part of the session is designed to discuss how some of the more difficult concepts of numeracy may be delivered in order to engage learners.

I have worked in TAFE as a numeracy teacher for more than 28 years in various areas including Diploma of OHS, CGEA, Koorie unit, in Industry, as an LN support teacher, training future Secondary teachers and with Police preparatory course. I have also been involved in the accreditation of the Certificates in Initial Literacy and Numeracy and reaccreditation of CGEA and Foundation Skills Training Package, and was consulted on the re-write of ACSF. I have presented at a number of different conferences and forums because I am passionate about numeracy teaching and working with others to better meet the needs of our learners.


Empower – An Organisation-wide Approach to Developing Teachers’ Skills and Confidence in Teaching Pronunciation


Margaret Corrigan, Carringbush Adult Education

Developing a systematic, organisation-wide approach to professional development for teachers can be challenging for managers. In this workshop presentation, you will gain insight into the journey undertaken by Carringbush Adult Education leadership to upskill teachers in the area of teaching pronunciation. Approaches used by management will be discussed, along with strategies which have worked and difficulties encountered along the way. Workshop participants will be invited to share what successes and challenges they have had in implementing organisational change.

Margaret has had experience in a variety of educational settings in Australia, Asia and the Pacific over 30 years. She has been CEO of Carringbush Adult Education since 2012. She is passionate about improving outcomes for disadvantaged EAL learners, particularly through building teachers’ confidence and skills.

12 noon – 1:00pm Group B choose 1 of 3


Connect – Learning Circles and Adult Learning Principles

Room 2

Jennifer Coutts and Kerryn Durden, Diversitat

In 2018, we realised that we were not fully incorporating adult learning principles in our delivery of English language classes for adult migrants and refugees. We had low expectations of our students and their learning. Students were passive learners. We challenged our assumptions and introduced new ways of teaching. One major introduction has been learning circles. In just a few months, we have seen significant change in student engagement and learning.

  • Would learning circles work for your classes?
  • Adaptations?
  • Likely response from colleagues and students?
  • Assumptions that need to be challenged?
  • New ideas for applying adult learning principles?

An experienced teacher of English to adult migrants and refugees. Currently the English program team leader at Diversitat.


Educate – Collaborative Numeracy: Harnessing YouTube for Resilience in Adult Numeracy Professional Development

Room 2

Beth Marr, Adult Numeracy Education Consultant

This practical workshop will illustrate numeracy teaching strategies and introduce a series of YouTube videos, Collaborative Numeracy, focussed on strengthening the capacity of LLN teachers to include numeracy in their courses.
Filmed excerpts from a program of PD workshops introduce strategies for making sense of numeracy concepts/ language through enjoyable activities, rather than rote learning. Featuring structured activities and use of hands-on materials, ideas difficult to visualise through reading text alone, they capture the workshop atmosphere in highly edited form and are supplemented with short commentary and extra information.
This series, available on the WA Department of Training & Workplace Development website, is useful for DIY PD for groups or individuals. User Notes enable any facilitator, or cooperative teacher group, to conduct their own interactive workshops. Hopefully it will help important ideas in Adult Numeracy Teaching live on for new generations of teachers.

Beth Marr was the lead writer of many widely used Australian adult numeracy resources, including Mathematics: A new beginning and Strength in Numbers, the VALBEC online resource: Building Strength with Numeracy, and more recently with the WA Department of Training, Collaborative Numeracy, a series of YouTube videos for professional development of literacy, language and numeracy teachers. Beth has conducted successful interactive professional development workshops for teachers all over Australia as well as in developing countries. Her numeracy education work has included workplace numeracy training in Australia and East Timor. In WA, Beth has conducted intensive PD programs, for several consecutive years. On request, she has also adapted and delivered aspects of these programs to suit the needs of other educational organisations as in-house training.


Empower – Positive Psychology in Education

Room 2

Marie McLeod, PoPsy

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing. This relatively new field of psychology offers research based insights and interventions, to increase wellbeing, success and happiness. Positive Psychology is being applied in education settings around the world, showing benefits such as increased resilience, inoculation against reduced depression and anxiety and improvement of academic achievement up to 14%. We believe applying Positive Psychology in Adult Education may lead to similar powerful results. This workshop will share practical, evidence based ideas you can immediately apply with a focus on:

  • Playing to Strengths
  • Nurture Positivity and Resilience and get the best out of your brain
  • Discover the Magic of Growth Mindsets
  • Cultivate Positive Relationships and Hope

Marie McLeod is the CEO and Founder of PoPsy, delivering practical positive psychology in education, health and human services.

1:00pm – 1:45pm Lunch, entertainment

Room 4

1:45pm – 2:45pm Group C choose 1 of 3


Connect – ‘This is Rubbish!’

Room 4

Linno Rhodes, Olympic Adult Education

‘This is rubbish!’ How do you maintain credibility in the face of harsh words uttered from your adult students? How do you understand what is really behind these words? – especially when you have worked hard on your lesson plan and you know it’s not ‘rubbish’.
Neuroscience teaches us that repeated experiences create neural pathways: students come to expect not to have success in the classroom if that is their repeated experience. We all have coping strategies that help us deal with a myriad of situations. Some may be adaptive – that work in our favour, and others are maladaptive; like blaming the teacher: this is rubbish!
Workshop participants will look through the neuroscience lens to bring new ways of understanding the brain, learning and maladaptive coping strategies.
Additionally, participants will come away with a new set of tools to strengthen their teaching practice through exploring neuroscience theories and practices that will show us how to stay calm and focused, how to share those strategies with students, and ultimately create a safe learning (and working) environment.

Linno Rhodes enjoys working in Language, Literacy and Numeracy provision in the Adult Community Education sector. She works at Olympic Adult Education in West Heidelberg. She is on the VALBEC committee, Fine Print Editorial Committee and the Reading and Writing Hotline Steering Committee. She is a Fellow of the International Specialised Skills Institute.


Educate – Support CALD Learners to be Responsible Digital Citizens

Room 2

Shruti Malavde, Olympic Adult Education

The main focus of the presentation is on the ways to support CALD and LLN learners to be responsible digital citizens. In this presentation, we will explore a variety of topics as device security, managing privacy settings, managing digital assets, identity theft – prevention and response, reporting scams and how to prevent or respond to the online situations. Teachers will explore variety of resources for online safety.

Shruti is passionately working in the Adult Education Sector for past 12 years. During her career she has successfully completed projects like Virtual Staffroom. Experienced Information Communication Technology professional with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. Skilled in E-Learning, Learning Management, Educational Technology, virtual classroom and Instructional Design, Shruti is a compassionate trainer helping bridge the gap between CALD learners and digital natives technology.


Empower – Provision of Foundation Skills by Community Education Providers in Regional Australia – What does it look like and does it help get people into VET?

Room 2

Lisel O’Dwyer, National Centre for Vocational Education Research

Although community and private ACE providers catering to disadvantaged learners may be small organisations, they offer largely unacknowledged access to foundation skills (language, literacy and numeracy and employment skills). The specific characteristics of ACE can help engage hard-to-reach learners and thus support the VET system’s performance by improving access to VET for people with low skills. We focus on regional Australia where LLN skills are comparatively poorer with great diversity in community profiles between different places. We also ask whether completion of foundations skills courses with ACE helps to develop social capital and has a wider, albeit indirect, impact on individuals’ communities. Using the results of a national survey and preliminary results from case studies in different locations across Australia, we identify the range of delivery models and providers’ views and experiences of demand and impact and present what they know about the outcomes for learners.

Lisel O’Dwyer is a social scientist with thirty years of research experience in a range of fields but all with an underlying theme of social justice and inclusion. She has previously worked in ageing studies, generational differences in access to wealth and housing, health promotion and broad social policy at Flinders University, the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, Central Queensland University and Monash University.

2:45pm – 3:45pm Group D choose 1 of 3


Connect – Literacy in the VET classroom: connecting with VET teachers and students to make Literacy skills explicit

Room 3

Karen Manwaring and Callista Dinelli, Melbourne Polytechnic

Callista and Karen are teachers in the Learning Skills and Assessment Unit at Melbourne Polytechnic. They go into VET classrooms of all levels and co-teach beside VET teachers to make literacy and ‘learning to learn’ skills explicit in each lesson. Their role makes them unpack the wide range of Literacy skills in each VET course and then model them to the students and to the VET teachers – and to themselves!
A good working relationship with the VET teacher is the first step to success.
Karen and Callista will share the principles behind the Melbourne Poly model as well as some insights and challenges in their practice.

Karen has worked for many years in Learn Local, TAFE and Higher Education settings. Karen teaches in the Learning Skills Unit at Melbourne Polytechnic. She also teaches creative writing to public housing residents in St Kilda.
Callista Dinelli has taught EAL and Literacy to adults in private provider and TAFE settings. Callista is a teacher in the Learning Skills Unit at Melbourne Polytechnic.


Educate – Blended Learning in the SEE program: An Approach to Learning

Room 2

Helen Decat and Luke Treadwell, AMES Australia

Digital literacy is recognised as one of the underpinning skills required for education and employment in the modern world. AMES Australia has implemented blended learning in the SEE program as the preferred model where face-to-face classroom delivery, digital literacy and independent learning are integrated. This session will offer a chance for participants to share experiences of, and questions about, blended learning, using a Learner Management System, and strategies for developing digital literacy. The session will also present an overview of student and teacher experience of web based training at AMES.

Hanne works in the Curriculum and Program Development team at AMES delivering professional development and developing EAL resources for staff. Hanne is involved in the development and evaluation of the digital content of the Web Based Training in the SEE program.
Luke is a senior teacher with many years of program and project management in AMES. Luke has taught CALD students for many years across many programs and has worked extensively with the Web Based Training blended learning program.


Empower – New Resources for Beginner Level Learners and Their Teachers: Interactive Books and Teacher Training Videos

Room 3

Rei Chin and Cathy Gill, Carringbush Adult Education

Carringbush will introduce two sets of resources for teachers working with beginner level adult EAL learners – an interactive book application available on iOS and Android devices and a series of teacher training videos available online. In this presentation, participants will view and test the book resources and be provided with tips on how to utilise the training videos in different contexts.

Rei is the Community Development Manager at Carringbush Adult Education, overseeing a number of projects that support CALD adults in achieving their vocational and non-vocational goals. She has a background in teaching EAL to adults with low levels of spoken English and literacy. Rei is dedicated to working holistically with adults facing complex barriers to improve their confidence and skills to participate meaningfully in communities, education and employment.
Cathy has worked extensively in English language and literacy, having taught EAL to students in Melbourne and Beijing at high schools and in community settings. As Education Manager at Carringbush Adult Education, Cathy works closely with both students and teachers. She has a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of working with adult EAL/literacy students

3:45pm Close, meet the speakers, refreshments

Room 2

VALBEC gratefully acknowledges the support of Adult, Community and Further Education

2019 VALBEC Conference