On the 29th April, we were all going to come together in our traditional networking reception to initiate our conference. But this year, 2020 is different. Speaking with Irene back in February, one of our conference speakers, I remember saying “Irene, I don’t see it happening, I don’t feel that we will be in London” and spookily I was absolutely right. COVID19 took over our lives.
End of February, beginning of March, I went into observation mode. Observing what was happening in the world. I could see lockdown coming. First, Italy, then one by one more and more countries following lockdown policy. I kept holding back and holding back and observing, but by mid March it was crystal clear, we would not be able to meet in London. At that point, I felt really sad: many people had already signed up with excitement and I knew that many people would be disappointed. So, we took the challenge – we boldly decided to create an online conference and because I knew that many, many people were suffering from the lockdown craze I took the decision to move the conference to an earlier date. On the 16th and 17th of April, the 4th Neurolanguage Learning Conference took place. We renamed the conference and now it is and will be called the NeuroEducation Conference.
The day before we kicked off this unbelievable online event, I realised what a gruelling schedule I had in fact created for me, for Gary our IT genius and for Elsa our support genius. In fact, I had scheduled nine speakers on both days back to back, with no lunch break representing in total about 11 hours flow for two days. The genius behind the conference portal, the programming and the smooth running, almost to clockwork precision was in fact Gary and I cannot thank him enough for the amazing feat he accomplished with this. In addition, Elsa in the background was constantly troubleshooting and helping people with access issues, or any other questions and she was non-stop available.
Honestly, this event with magical. Over the last three years, at our face-to-face event, somehow each conference had that extraordinary magical touch. And even though this year we were online, the buzz, the energy, the unbelievable connection with participants from all over the world, vibrant through the ethers, the conference was magical. With just over 250 participants coming in and out of the sessions, the buzz was phenomenal. Needless to say our speakers were definitely causing the buzz.
The conference kicked off with Andrej Miklavc, a three-time Olympian for Alpine skiing and among other things the founder of the global project the Sportskid whisperer. This was a phenomenal talk touching upon high performance, motivation, reasons, dreams, wishes and goals, really highlighting some major questions for learning and how we can learn from sport. The key question is how a sport attitude could change education. I followed Andrej, with a talk about my recent study on ADHD and how this affects the language learning process and also how Neurolanguage coaching can help in these cases.
Sharyn Collins delivered a super talk on Oxytocin and really entertained us all with the feel good “chemicals” and the learning process, followed by Rob Howard who talked about How we can market ourselves in the Language Market and how to niche and rebrand for the online market.
Ian McMaster delighted the audience with his talk on 2020 visions: harnessing the power of paradox in language learning stimulating a lot of thoughts and questions in relation to paradoxes.
I was really happy that Emma Sue Prince was able to join us and talk about 7 Skills for our time. In particular, Emma Sue had adapted her talk to really bring insights and assistance in this period of Covid 19. I followed Emma Sue with my talk on “Brain friendly learning – what does that mean?” which I created to explain publicly what this term means to me, as for me it really goes beyond the science of learning and addresses the need for our learners to be calm and stress free in a learning process.
We then had the honour to hear Jenny Dooley talking to us about “Teaching the generation C brain” – a really fascinating jampacked talk with some key information for us to understand this generation. Day one ended with Dr David Rock. I was thrilled when David only a couple of weeks ago agreed to speak at the conference and I know that the audience were absolutely enthralled with his talk. I am extremely grateful to David for taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to join us.
At the end of day one, I can honestly say that I was totally and utterly energised. Connecting in with the participants, connecting in with many of my coaches, connecting with so many new people, chatting, vibrantly asking questions, being with all of the speakers, smiling and laughing through the day, all contributed to the most awesome first-day.
Day two behind-the-scenes started with great technical panic, as our first guest Lee Campbell in Australia was not able to connect onto zoom. You can imagine that at 8.45am, I had Lee on the phone, the conference on the computer and Gary on another computer, desperately trying to get Lee on. I had to go live at 9 o’clock and I introduced Lee, we put on one of his videos and while the video was playing, luckily Lee jumped on. Panic over. Lee gave a super talk about neuro fitness and I’m very much looking forward to next year when Lee will be presenting his book to the world on his work combining movements and re-educating body and brain with Neuromovement.
Our panic started again when we discovered that participants could not access the second session of the day with our speaker Ron Morrain. Technically something had happened and Gary had to madly create a new link, but in fact in the meantime the old links then worked. So with a little bit of delay we were able to start with Ron and his wonderful talk on the Power of Mind Maps in language coaching. It was a superb talk which participants loved.
The next session was with a great favourite of our previous conference participants Richard Bentley. Richard is an amazing experienced coach, a phenomenal coaching professional and he really took our participants through the question “Why is personal change so difficult?”. It was a superb talk leading to deep reflection.
I was absolutely thrilled that Prof. Antonella Sorace from the University of Edinburgh and one of the founders of Bilingualism Matters, could share her expertise relating to language learning across a lifespan, bringing great insights into language learning and bilingualism, a topic which Antonella is passionate about and has dedicated her life work to.
Our next speaker really gave as a lot of food for thought relating to Colour Therapy and how colour can in fact affect the learning process. Phil Griggs was a speaker at our first conference in Mainz, Germany and it was super to have Phil back and his vibrant energy really set the tone for the afternoon.
Then Irene Viglia Atton, who has been a speaker at this conference every year, really set the scene relating to Heart Leadership, with a great balance of information relating to heart science, brain heart coherence, leadership and imagery.
Another conference favourite, Thomas Feiner, this year shared a talk on Blood, Gut, Heart and Brain and it was fascinating to hear how in fact gut health can affect brain activity and learning and it really gave food for thought on how we really are a holistic system. It was a real treat that Dr Danijela De Belic followed Thomas and shared her medical experience relating to the heart, the brain and the influence of these on learning, with her talk called Open Your Heart.
Finally, it was an enormous pleasure and honour to connect with the world expert on trauma Bessel Van Der Kolk. Bessel is famous for the book The Body keeps the Score and it was only two weeks ago that I managed to secure his talk at the conference. For me, the importance for educators to understand the impact of trauma on learning is imperative in the times that we are living and Bessel delivered and amazingly insightful, touching and phenomenally informative talk on the subject.
As day two came to an end, I was full of gratitude, joy, energised, amazed, but also a little sad that those two magical days were ending.
I do want to thank all of the participants. Each and every one of you brought your energy onto that platform. I would have never imagined it possible, to feel such energy and such a buzz on an online platform. BUT WE DID! WOW!
Immense gratitude to all of the speakers. Immense gratitude to Gary and Elsa.
And next year……..
to be with you in person
in Sitges, Spain for
THE 5th NEUROEDUCATION + HEART CONFERENCE.
Warmest wishes to you all.