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I have blogged many times in the past about dysregulation, stress behaviour, misbehaviour, and what happens when we view children differently, but this week, dysregulation led to something unexpected.

How Things Began

I always start my school day, picking up a group of Grade 1 students for some small group instruction. We meet down in the library, and I follow-up a lesson with some opportunities to practice the skills taught. On Tuesday morning though, something unexpected happened. When I went to get my group, one of the students was really upset about an experience on her way in. She sat inside her locker and did not want to come out. The locker door was open, so she was safe. I knew that I could keep talking to her, but she was obviously dysregulatedcrying, hunched over, and yelling responses to those that did speak to her — and the locker did provide her with a safe, independent space. Thinking about my cubby room conundrum from many years ago, I decided that leaving her alone might be the best idea. I wanted to ensure that she was safe though, so now what? I had five other students with me, no resources, and I was in a hallway. What should I do?

Taking Learning To The Hall

I noticed that there was a nice little alcove right across from this child’s locker. If we sat on the floor over there, I could still see her, but I could also connect with the other five students. We tend to start our group time with a snack, so maybe this could happen in the hall. I suggested that we all sit down.

This Is When Wonderful Happened

Since I didn’t have any materials with me for reading or writing, I needed to get creative. Thankfully snack bags and drinks have all kinds of words on them! Looking together at letters and sounds on packaging, helped me see …

  • which students are confidently blending sounds together,
  • who is experimenting more with reading unfamiliar words,
  • what heart words are students recalling and which ones are more difficult,
  • and which sound combinations are still challenging for which students.

As I mentioned in the tweet above, carrying around some paper or a whiteboard with me, would have allowed us to link the oral sounds with writing. The good news is that this was something that we could explore more the next day.

Hallway Connections: So What?

Choosing to do this group in the hallway on Tuesday led to children sharing their learning with me in unexpected ways.

  • Maybe some felt more confident in taking risks when the activity didn’t seem like reading or writing.
  • Maybe our smaller space to congregate felt more relaxed for kids, so they started to open up more. Maybe the environment is key!
  • Maybe a less formal way to share learning, had students sharing more of what they know.
  • Maybe starting with the oral was key, which then led to more opportunities to read and write.

I love how what could have been a negative experience, turned into a positive one.

As for the student, she was a lot calmer at the end of our hallway session, and she started to chat with me and another educator. Soon she was back in the classroom for the rest of the day. Time, Self-Reg, and our view of the child: all connect here in this Tuesday morning hallway tale.

How has dysregulation helped change your perspective, the learning environment, and your plans? Do we also need to reframe these moments to find some “good” in what could have been considered initially “bad?” I would love to hear your stories. Maybe we can all learn a few different approaches from each other.

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