Self-Reg RADAR: A Tool to Help With the “How” of Becoming a Self-Reg Haven

Self-Reg for parents, photo of man and son sitting on the grass together

A Self-Reg Haven is a school where everyone feels physically and emotionally safe, where students and staff alike feel connected to the school and to each other. But the big question is the “How?” Invariably, when a school is starting out on its journey to becoming a Self-Reg Haven I get asked questions like:

“Where do I start?”

“Can you just tell me the strategies and give me the basic tools?

“How do I get the parents to know about this?

“How can we get all teachers learning about Self-Reg?”

“Self-Reg is not that complicated. Why do I need to understand the science?”

“Self-Reg is SO much more complicated than I first thought. How will I ever learn it all?”

In Self-Reg, Dr. Stuart Shanker frames the two core detective-work questions for reframing stress behavior as: “Why?” and “Why now?” At an organizational level, such as a school, the challenge comes when you try to bring in Self-Reg and “why”/ “why now” doesn’t seem enough to handle all the problems you’re dealing with.

If only the “how” were something simple and straightforward that we could package and share. That would be a lovely thing for us, as you can imagine, knowing our mission is to ground self-regulation in living and learning. But instead of a program for managing behaviour, Self-Reg is an ongoing process of learning why students act and react in certain ways; what they are feeling, and why; what they are communicating, intentionally or unintentionally; what helps them stay or return to being calmly focused and alert. Not only is every student different, but each is constantly changing. So Self-Reg is a never-ending process of getting to know a student, and helping them to recognize and realize their potential. Equally, it is a process of unlearning: removing cognitive blinders that shape our attitudes and perceptions of student behaviour. And finally, it is a process of learning about ourselves: why we act and react in certain ways, what the signs are that show us when we are stuck in a state of low energy and high tension, and what we need to do to rest and restore.

RADAR Stage 1 & 2

The 5-stage RADAR approach will help.

RADAR – Reflect, Analyze, Design, Activate, Respond – is the process of moving towards a Self-Reg Haven. We designed this model to meet the challenge schools face with questions of “data” or “evidence based” decision-making. But this could easily apply to any organization traveling on the journey towards becoming a Self-Reg Haven. The process has 5 iterative steps. Self-Reg is a continual reflective process, so using the RADAR model, you could cycle through these iterative stages again and again.

RADAR Stage 3, 4, and 5
Dr. Susan Hopkins is the Executive Director of Dr. Stuart Shanker's organization, Susan has been a teacher, school administrator, inclusive schooling coordinator, curriculum developer, educational researcher, and educational leader. She has worked in every area of education from the early years to post-secondary, from remote Northern schools to the Department of Education, and across contexts that include Italy and the Northwest Territories.