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2015 Keynote Presenters

John W. Maag

Dr. Maag is a Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he specializes in the education and treatment of children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders.  He is a nationally recognized behavioral consultant on best practices for managing resistance and improving relationships with others.  Dr. Maag has published over 90 articles and four books.  He has won teaching awards including a University wide award for teaching excellence.

I Can’t Make You: Attitude Shifts and Derailments for Resistance

How do we respond to a student that says “Make me!”  Our authority has been threatened.  Yet, we can’t make others do anything.  Therefore, we want to set an example that shows other students they can’t get away with misbehaving.  Unfortunately, most of the ways we try and set an example have the opposite effect and actually increase resistance.  The solution is to change our responses to students’ resistance rather than trying to force students to comply.  Do you disagree with me?  If so, then I have just created your resistance.  I can change that.  The key is understanding the difference between knowledge and knowing.  In the presentation resistance will be reconceptualized and techniques for managing it will be presented.


Susan Swearer

Dr. Susan M. Swearer is a Professor of School Psychology at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL); Co-Director of the Bullying Research Network (; Director of the Empowerment Initiative (; and Chair of the Research Advisory Board for the Born This Way Foundation. Dr. Swearer is the co-author of Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Schools (2009) and co-editor of the books, Handbook of Bullying in Schools: An International Perspective (2010) and Bullying in North American Schools, 2nd edition (2011). She was an invited presenter at the White House Bullying Prevention Conference and she was a panel member at Harvard University for the launch of the Born This Way Foundation along with Lady Gaga, Oprah, Deepak Chopra, and Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelieus. From January 2013-March 2013, Dr. Swearer conducted a research study on the Born Brave Bus, a youth empowerment experience that reached over 20,000 participants.

Bullying and Students with Disabilities

Research evidence suggests that students with disabilities are overrepresented in bullying/victimization; however, the relationship is complicated. In this keynote address, Dr. Swearer will explore the relationships between observable and “hidden” disabilities, the role of the peer group, the role of adults who work with students, and the role of school climate on involvement in bullying and/or victimzation. Educational practices including, inclusion, PBiS, social-emotional learning, and least restrictive environment will be discussed with the goal of supporting the best educational opportunities for all students.


Matt McNiff

Matt McNiff is a behavior consultant with the Educational  Service Unit No. 5 in Beatrice, Nebraska where he works with nine school districts to help teachers and administrators develop ways to help students with behavior concerns.  Matt has worked with thousands of students with behavioral challenges and grades ranging from early childhood to high school and transitional programming.  He has a Master’s degree in special education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, specializing in behavior disorders.  Matt specializes in helping teachers to develop programs that will reduce problematic behaviors and increase academic time.  His presentations are known for being positive, humorous and engaging and are full of easy to use strategies and examples that can be used quickly with even the toughest to reach children.  He also speaks to groups around the nation on how to reduce rude and defiant behavior in children.

What do I do if They Don’t?: Twelve Steps to Creating Great Classroom Management

Working in any field with children can be challenging work.  When that environment also includes defiant and oppositional students, the challenge can seem overwhelming.  What are some strategies that you can use when they don’t want to do what you ask them?  What do you do when the children refuse?  This keynote address will tackle some common classroom management issues while also helping participants to develop their own philosophy when working with challenging behaviors.