Friday is a Professional Development Day. The whole day is focused on school-based priorities, which also includes a focus on reading instruction. With a Snow Day on Thursday, followed by a Reading Specialist Meeting at the Board Office on Friday, I was glad that I could connect virtually with my principal to help plan my role on March 3rd.
While the focus of my session will be on reading and the UFLI resource, I started to think about how Self-Reg can inspire my planning.
I often return to the Five Domains when I think about stress for kids and for adults. I will admit usually, I’m cycling through these domains after I observe stress in action. This time, I want to take a more proactive approach, and use my knowledge of these domains to help with planning. What does this mean? As I work on some Professional Development Day planning this weekend, here’s a look at what I’m going to do to reduce stress in the Five Domains.
The Biological Domain
I’m not sure where I’ll be facilitating my session — I’m assuming that it will be in one of the primary classrooms — so my control over the environment is somewhat limited. That said, there are some things that I plan on doing to help reduce biological stressors.
- Close the classroom door to reduce noise from the hallway.
- Provide a few different food options to help reduce hunger when we learn together. I’ve worked with the K-2 team many times before, and I know that some snack foods can make a big difference.
- Adjust the temperature in the classroom — maybe with opening or closing a window — to make it not too hot or too cold for all of the educators. With the K-2 staff joining together, there will be a lot of adults in one room, so cooling things down could help.
- Seeing about the possibility of using a microphone to make it easy to hear each of the educators when they speak.
- Creating a large circle of sorts (if possible) for seating, to reduce focusing on print on the walls or items around the room.
- Varying seating types if I can. Since this will be taking place in someone else’s room, I have limited options, but maybe offering some spaces on the floor and a few different types of chairs, will be beneficial. Standing could also be an option.
- Thinking about the typeface for any text shared on a screen, and enabling closed captioning if possible. This is not going to be a big PowerPoint presentation, but I might be sharing a bit on a screen. Making the text large, considering black print on a white background, and looking at closed captioning could help make any slides or movies accessible to everyone.
The Emotion Domain
As part of my session, I plan on having some educators share their experience with the UFLI Resource. Some of my choices in this domain connect to this sharing plan.
- I’ve spoken to the educators involved in advance, and talked about what this sharing would look like. While I had a few ideas in mind, I also wanted to hear what others thought. What would they be comfortable with?
- Allowing for small group discussions. While I would love for K-2 educators to share with each other, I realize that we work at a large school, and there are probably over 25 people involved in this session. That can be a lot. Staff are much more comfortable with their grade teams, so by sharing in smaller groups first, maybe more people will be open to talking, asking questions, and suggesting ideas. Then those that want, can share with the larger group.
- Hearing multiple approaches. I know that it’s easy for educators to compare themselves to each other — this is something that causes me stress as well — so I really want people to see different uses of a similar resource. I approached these three educators to share because nobody is doing everything exactly the same. Maybe by seeing and hearing various possibilities, other educators will feel more comfortable with discussing what they’re doing or trying an option that they haven’t considered before.
The Cognitive Domain
I know that this new thinking and learning around reading instruction can cause a lot of stress in the Cognitive Domain, so it’s a domain that I’ve been reflecting on a lot.
- Reducing surprises by reaching out about sharing first. As I’ve mentioned above, I’ve already connected with three different educators about sharing their approaches, so hopefully knowing about this in advance, will help ease any stress around this sharing opportunity. They will not be the only ones talking on Friday, but they’ll start the conversation, which should help.
- Making the new learning more manageable. Some educators have read and know a lot about the Science of Reading already, and some are new to this learning. Introducing a lot of new things at once can feel overwhelming. I’m really trying to limit what I share and what we discuss on Friday, to make the content seem more manageable and to focus in on one small shift. We can continue to grow from there.
- Being there to support. With a large K-2 division, I realize that I cannot be everywhere all at once. That said, I have a more flexible schedule than a classroom educator, and I can be there to support as needed. If educators are interested in trying something new, and want some support, I can make that happen. Hopefully knowing that they’re not alone, and can rely on me and on their colleagues, will help reduce some cognitive stress.
The Social Domain
A PA Day session might not be a social event, but there are always social elements to gathering, connecting, and learning with others. I’m hoping that these choices help reduce stress in this domain.
- Learning in a circle to include everyone as part of a group. I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to make this formation work in someone else’s classroom, but my hope is that by creating an inclusive space for everyone, nobody will have to feel the pressure of having to ask to join someone else’s group.
- Relying on grade teams, when small groups are needed. The grade teams work together a lot at this school, so by using these teams if/when we need to split into smaller groups, hopefully people will feel more comfortable with sharing their ideas and engaging in conversations.
- Not creating groups or seating arrangements for the session. I know that there are some people on staff who feel better when they can sit beside their teaching partner or connect with a good friend in their grade team. This reduces their stress. I’ve been in similar situations before, and having certain people nearby has made a big difference to how and what I share. So I’m not going to create groupings for the session or require a certain seating plan. That said, I will be there as a partner or as part of a team, so nobody feels left out. It’s important to have all voices heard.
- The snacks should support social interactions as well. People join together around food. I know this, and I see this time and time again. While there will not be a lot of time for small talk, it’s important for everyone to feel comfortable with each other. My hope is that by bringing along a few snacks, people can connect and converse around the treats.
The Prosocial Domain
In many ways, my choices around the other domains, I think will impact on this domain as well.
- Reducing surprises by sharing about the focus of the session before the session. Nobody is required to prepare anything before the session, but if people want to come with ideas to share or questions to ask, they will know what to expect before Friday. Then hopefully nobody will feel the stress that comes from being unprepared.
- As I’ve mentioned before, the educators that will be speaking, are all doing something a little bit different. It’s easy for us to compare ourselves to each other or worry that we’re not doing enough. I want to focus in on the differences to help people see that there is no one right way to use the UFLI Resource, and finding an option that works for you and your students is fantastic!
What Does All Of This Mean?
Yes, I know how valuable it is to prepare the content to share and organize any slide deck that I might be using, but the more that I think about Self-Reg, the more that I wonder, do we need to start here when planning for professional development? What are your professional development (PD) Self-Reg considerations, and what impact does this make on educator sharing and learning? We often talk about the environment being the third teacher for students, but what about for adults? Never have I been more intentional about my Self-Reg PD considerations, and I’m curious to see the impact.