Brain-Based Strategies to Cultivate Positive Learning Environments

The Conference

     On May 6, 2019; I had the opportunity to attend and lead a breakout session at the USM/SMP 4th Annual Assessment for Learning & Leading Conference. Dr. Marcia Tate was the keynote…and let me tell you..she is one AMAZING woman. I was able to sit in on several of her presentations and it felt amazing to be validated with my own work.  Many of her points when it comes to brain-based strategies that promote positive learning are things that I talk about and use in my own work with arts accessibility. Due to the academic background most of the participants had at this conference, I was able to “geek out” a little more than usual and really dive into the science behind the WHY of using creativity in learning is so beneficial. I co-presented with a fellow MALI member, Jennifer Etter. Our session focused on “Gateways to creativity, growth, and recovery”.  ( I think a course on this topic is needed…adding that to my to-do list)

Dr. Marcia Tate had the audience engaged during every talk she gave.
Honored for the opportunity to be a presenter at this conference!
Dr. Marcia Tate had the audience engaged during every talk she gave.

     Unfortunately for y’all…the sessions I attended were so engaging I forgot to get pictures! It was such an honor to be invited to be a presenter at this conference. I learned SO MUCH about the assessment side of education, ways that I can incorporate that into my own art practice as a teaching artist, and ways that I can improve my delivery for my seminars.

Exerpt from my presentation, "Gateways to Creativity, Growth and Recovery"
Me and my service dog, Andy...who was a hit at the conference!
Exerpt from my presentation, "Gateways to Creativity, Growth and Recovery"

Creativity in Health

     Creativity exploration as an integral part in one’s health is a topic that I am incredibly passionate about.  The science is finally supporting what artists have known for millennia – the arts help heal.  And they help heal more than just the emotional baggage we carry around with us from every day life and traumatic experiences. They can help our bodies heal from the inside out at the neuron and molecular levels (when used in conjunctions with recommended and supervised treatment plans encouraged/recommended by one’s doctor).  Because of this, there is a big push for “arts in health” as the practice is called.  I fall under that category with this type of work that I do, however mine is even more broad.  Creativity at its heart is simply finding new ways to solve current problems. “Creative problem solving”, “creative thinking”, “think outside of the box”. Creativity stares us in the face every single day but we don’t see it. I’ve made it my mission to help others SEE it and then use it. I use creativity every day..even on the days that I am not actively creating in the studio.

Conclusion

     One of my big take aways from this particular conference…is that while I CAN push myself further than I should…I really shouldn’t because I pay for it on the back end. The timing of this conference coincides with the start of my decline with my myasthenia gravis . My current symptom decline started happening the week before. But I found out while I was at the conference that I do have some abnormalities with my thymus gland. More on that in another post (I’m playing catch up!)

     I did my presentation on no sleep and in midst of a pretty heavy brain fog day. I felt unorganized and ill-prepared. My only saving grace was that I know the heart of this material because it is something I live every day. The day was amazing and I made some terrific connections, so I am very glad I went. I also realized that while I LOVE to geek out over the science…I am PASSIONATE about “teaching the teacher” how to adapt their classroom on the fly without having to worry about expensive adaptive equipment. 

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Shawna is a ceramic sculptor and mixed media artist who loves sharing her passion with others. She is a teaching artist and a strong advocate for the arts being accessible to all. To support her endeavors, consider subscribing to her members-only group! There are a variety of subscription levels starting at just $5/mo. Interested in supporting her arts in health work directly – check out the “art heals” level of support for $15/mo.

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