Educating Equitably with Compassion

Educating Equitably with Compassion

Save the date — November 9 & 10, 2023 — for Research Institute for Learning and Development’s 38th Annual Executive Function Conference. This year’s theme is Executive Function, Motivation, and Engagement: Fostering Social-Emotional Learning and Positive Behavior in Students. Here are just a few of the exciting speakers you’ll hear from.

New Perspectives on Challenging Behavior

J. Stuart Ablon, Ph.D., is the founder and director of Think:Kids(link opens in new tab/window) in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. An award-winning psychologist, Dr. Ablon is associate professor and the Thomas G. Stemberg Endowed Chair in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is set to deliver a presentation titled “Rethinking Challenging Behavior: Combining Neuroscience, Compassion, and Common Sense.”

Dr. Ablon is known for his expertise in the area of Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS), a model he developed for understanding and helping children with behavioral challenges. Through his work at Think:Kids, Dr. Ablon focuses on helping children and adolescents with challenging behavior, including those diagnosed with conditions like oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The CPS model developed by Dr. Ablon emphasizes understanding and addressing the underlying causes of challenging behavior rather than using traditional punitive approaches. Join Ablon as he reframes challenging behaviors and shares evidence-based approaches for parents and teachers to reduce clinical symptoms and improve general functioning.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room  

Tommy Chang, Ed.D., is the CEO of the New Teacher Center(link opens in new tab/window). Dr. Chang brings over 25 years of education experience and leadership to this role, including significant positions in schools, districts, and nonprofit organizations. He is preparing to deliver a presentation titled “The Elephant in the Classroom: Promoting Equity in School Systems.”

Dr. Chang serves on several nonprofit boards such as Education Leaders of Color(link opens in new tab/window), an organization dedicated to elevating the leadership, voices, and influence of people of color in education to lead more inclusive efforts to improve education. He will discuss how to partner with school districts to co-create thriving, inclusive cultures, where all students succeed in heart and mind. No form of growth is easy, and professional learning means leaning into discomfort with the mindset and heartset to grow.

Learn More


  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum:

Research Institute for Learning and Development: