Testimonials from schools and teachers

Spelling and Visual Imaging Strategy

It is my pleasure to be able to provide a recommendation for Andrea O’Hagan based on her work in our school over the last two years. Staff saw Andrea present at the New Zealand Literacy Association conference in 2016 and were excited about her work with Visual Imaging and the possibilities for our spelling programmes.  We invited her to complete PLD with our staff in subsequent years and have been highly impressed.

Andrea is an engaging, positive and responsive presenter who brings energy and enthusiasm along with a deep and thorough theoretical knowledge of her subject. She quickly displayed an understanding of our school culture and was able to weave this understanding into her presentation. Andrea has worked with our whole staff, teaching teams and groups of students. This work has given her credibility with our staff and we are using the Visual Imaging Strategy across the middle and senior area of our school. We are hoping to continue our work with Andrea throughout this year as we refine our approach with her support.  Carol Bevis,Principal, Bledisloe School,Taradale,Napier 2018

Andrea's  PLD Coaching Day included seeing her working with the students and picking up so many little things she does so effectively. The after school PLD session run by Andrea for teachers and other staff  was invaluable to unpack what had happened  when Andrea worked in  the classroom. Further, she provided understanding of how the visual imaging fits in with current spelling teaching practices. - Palmerston North Normal Intermediate, 2016

At the start of term 1 we tested lists 1 – 4.  Our kids (with the ‘top seven’ kids scores removed achieved 61% accuracy (combined score).At the beginning of term 4 we tested our kids on lists 5, 6 and 7.  Our kids achieved (with the top seven scores removed) 84% accuracy overall.Not highly scientific - but for us this shows our kids were mostly 2 -3 years behind in their spelling skills at the start of the year and are now (after just three terms) mostly at or above where they should be - that's incredible!!!!! Renee Downey- Otaika Valley School, Whangarei, 2016

I am excited about this innovative programme and feel it has potential for students who don’t learn the conventional way.  I am currently using this spelling method with a couple of my students who have difficulty learning spelling.  They are finding it fun and are learning at a more steady rate.  I think it is a great alternative for some of our students who need a more individualized spelling approach.
B.H. remedial teacher, 2015

As a teacher, I have been amazed by the changes I witnessed in a (secondary school) student following sessions with spelling coach Andrea O'Hagan. It was as though a key had been found which unlocked the door to a room filled with words. This student went from avoiding writing at all costs, to fluently and accurately writing with real self-confidence. In order to avoid the struggles associated with spelling and retrieving words for an effective piece of writing, this student had developed multiple strategies to deflect attention from the problem. She went from 'fiddling with a pen' for literally hours, to filling pages with writing in that same time.C.H. teacher,  May 2015

The Visual Spelling Strategy programme had an impact on boys who participated in the programme in the following ways:

  • Their self-confidence increased

  • They progressively began to master new spelling words

  • They were able to use the strategies taught to help them recall  words accurately.

  • Transfer to their daily writing began to occur after a while.

  • There was a flow on effect to their willingness to write as they began to see themselves as capable of recording ideas and more importantly being able to read them back at a later date!

  • The students began to comment on the spelling words that also appeared in their reading material, reiterating their increasing visual awareness.

  • There was a keenness amongst other students to learn the effective strategies that these students were using.

Shelley Forster- class teacher, James Street School, 2015


Communication Skills Workshop

 I am delighted to provide this testimonial to the skills of Mike O’Hagan as a communication skills facilitator. Mike provided a full-­‐day professional training session for our Arts Team at the beginning of 2014. This session covered principles of effective communication including building rapport, problem-­‐ownership and reflective listening. The feedback from the team was universally positive, both in terms of Mike’s skills as a facilitator and the usefulness of the content.

I particularly appreciated how Mike tailored a day to suit our particular needs. In the build-­‐up to the session he was attentive and responsive and really negotiated the best possible service for us. This patience and understanding continued during the session itself. Mike quickly built an environment of trust where people felt safe to explore and test out the new strategies on offer. He also provided ‘just enough’ theory alongside the practical examples so that we could understand the underpinning principles of what we were learning. The written materials provided to us were of good quality and I have continued to refer to them.

As an educator of adults myself, I am aware how challenging it can be to provide a day of effective PD when working with a new group of people. Mike’s work was exceptional. I can truly say that Mike’s session has had a lasting impact on our team’s communication. Everyone has been making an effort to put the skills and techniques we learned into practice and we have seen an improvement in communication as a result. Indeed, such has been the impact of Mike’s workshop that another team at our workplace has been discussing inviting Mike to work with them.

I recommend Mike’s services without reservation.

Dr Viv Aitken,
Senior Lecturer–Drama Education