Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Chapter 2: The Emotional Domain

It has been an incredibly busy month in our district.  I am not sure I have experienced such a busy startup.  As we look at the emotional domain of regulation, I am reminded of many adults who have either expressed their "stress" or lack of regulation or I have witnessed it in an outpouring  of emotional disregulation in tears and anger!  Shanker asks at the beginning of the chapter why teachers should even be concerned about a student's emotional regulation. Isn't this the responsibility of parents? After all, teacher teach to the cognitive!

in reading this chapter, we realized how closely tied a student's level of arousal and their ability to learn. The key learnings we gleaned from this chapter include the following:

It is very important to explicitly teach students about their emotions; how they feel, how they act and how they sound when they have a certain emotion.

Working on learning the emotions should not be a separate item or part of curriculum (p.33).  A teacher should enhance lessons with emotional learning or integrate the teaching of emotions in the delivered lessons throughout the curriculum.

Teachers should incorporate a range of activities that allow the integration of emotional learning through the day and focus should shift from product to process (p. 30)

The key components of emotional learning include: self-awareness, self-modulation, empathy for others around us, and relationship management (p. 32).

It is important to note students (and teachers) need to understand up-regulation and down-regulation (p. 27).

When asked, students often only identified negative emotions (p. 27).  Is that because we more often call them on negatives and forget the positives?

It is key to note that there may be cultural implications regarding students' identifications of emotions (p. 27).  One idea offered is to send students home to gather information from parents regarding important emotions or those emotions "not allowed to be shown." (p. 34)

The awareness wheel on page 39 would be an excellent tool to help students understand their range of emotions.  (Also found here on page 7 of the powerpoint).

Page 41 offers a great assignment for students (and adults) to track their emotions in an "Emotion Journal".  The idea is to write down how you are feeling throughout the day and associate an emotion with that feeling.

Tools to help students with regulation included yoga, tai chi, meditation and breathing exercises (p. 44).  However, if parents are resistant to some of these, you could also do stretching, walking, breathing exercises outside, observe nature, singing, animal therapy or listening to your heartbeat.

It was noted by staff that some children have only models of disregulation at home, making it difficult for schools to help students learn.

It was also noted by staff that teachers have differing abilities to regulate which might make it difficult for students moving from teacher to teacher in junior and senior high.  Meeting the expectations in each class may cause disregulation.

How can we use this knowledge in our work?
1. use strategies as suggestions in reports
2. offer parents ideas if they are open
3. offer teachers ideas if they are open
4. model discussion about emotions if asked to model lessons
5. introduce the SNAP model 
                          STOP (things I can do to STOP myself and calm my body)
                          -snap my fingers to remind myself to using calming strategies
                          -take deep breaths
                          -put my hands in my pockets
                          -take a step back
                          -count to 10

                          NOW AND (things I can say to myself to keep calm and help me to make the
                          right choices)
                          -calming thoughts/ coping statements
                          -"this is hard, but I can do it"
                          -"I can stay in control"

                          PLAN (Once I have stopped and calmed down, what can I do?)
                          -pick a plan that will work for me and
                          -make me feel like a winner
                          -make the problem smaller not bigger
                          -not hurt anyone, myself or anything
From PAGE 40

6. recommend the book
7. creating awareness for teachers to react calmly to students
8. introduce cultural awareness when needed

Finally, someone read a saying on a poster in one of our buildings...

                                               If a child doesn't know how to....

                                                               read, we teach
                                                              swim, we teach
                                                             count, we teach
                                                             drive, we teach
                                                            behave, we ... punish?

Students need to learn  about their emotions and they don't learn this by osmosis.  We need to model, role play, share, discuss, reinforce, and practice, practice, practice. Our students with exceptionalities often need even more practice yet we give up so easily on them and "place" them in a class that will "better meet their needs."  Yet, if we failed to teach emotional regulation to all of our students, we have failed them.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Calm, Alert and Learning: book study

Our team is completing a monthly book study on Stuart Shanker's book, "Calm, Alert and Learning."  Today our focus was on chapter one: The Biological Domain.  I asked staff to read the chapter and then in small groups, discuss what stood out for you?  What surprised you? and finally, how can this knowledge impact your practice when you are in classrooms?

This is a collection of their thoughts...
What stood out for you in this chapter?
1. The need to "de-clutter" classrooms.  A great deal of visual stimuli is not always helpful.  It can over stimulate students.
2. The concept of up-regulating and down-regulating.
3. There shouldn't be a "one size fits all" approach.  Students are all different. What gets some students going may be too much for another student.
4. We need to give teachers the understanding and the background tools to understand students are not ever "bad."
5. As I write reports, I need to self-regulate.
6. The analogy of self-regulation and cars
7. The Biological domain is included in self-regulation.
8. Shanker includes good, practical ways to explain this to teachers.
9. The more you work toward teaching students self-regulation, the deeper you can go and then children will be better able to understand the nuances and differences in their own self-regulation.
10. The Alert Program is similar to the Zones of Regulation.
11. This would be a familiar starting place for teachers.  The book offers general ideas for teachers or a more structured approach as needed.
12. Activities like soccer or other gym activities take time for down-regulation.
13. We need to take notice of what students are using currently to self-regulate.
14. Look at the environment, the task demands, and then the child. You can never just look at the child.
15 Arousal is not always under the control of the student.

What surprised you?
1. Kids are not bad, you just need different strategies.
2. The more dis-regulated a student is, the more difficult it is for them to become regulated.
3. The assertion that "self-regulation" is going to be the 21st century intelligence quotient concept.
4. That teachers don't all see students as individuals and then plan proactively.
5. Students need a calm and not over stimulating environment.
6. The environment affects the child's regulation.
7. Getting to the right level of arousal takes a great deal of energy from the student.

How will you use this in your work in classrooms?
1. Use this as a reference back to the "why" we need to adapt for students.
2. Remind that visual distractions can contribute to lack of self-regulation.
3. Create "tip sheets" with the summary information at the end of chapters.
4. Help teachers understand that "less is better" in classroom decorations.  Could help to take one thing off the teacher's plate if they didn't feel the need to decorate so much.
5. Give ideas for testing situations.
6. Take note of student needs and point these out to teachers.  Eg. student in class who could not regulate.  Suggestion given for him to put on his coat because he was cold.  Regulation occurred!

What a rich discussion and opportunity to meet together to think about how we can put this material and understanding in classrooms.  I look forward to future discussions as we move forward in this book.