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Since I got involved with The MEHRIT Centre so many years ago now, I find myself seeing everything through a Self-Reg lens. This year, I started at a different school as a Reading Specialist, and it’s clear that Self-Reg is at the core of this school.

Relationships First

We know that relationships are at the heart of Self-Reg, but you can actually see this in action here. Many educators have taught at this school for most — if not all — of their careers, and they have connections with the families here. They speak with students about their siblings and their parents or guardians. Children share stories of older siblings going off to high school or younger ones that are just starting school. All around the school, you see and hear about experiences like the ones shared below.

  • Educators head outside at the beginning of recess to play basketball with children that love this sport.
  • They find books on topics of interest to get students excited about reading.
  • They create cozy spaces and different nooks in their classrooms to ensure that all students feel safe in the learning spaces.
  • Kids also realize that they can move around spaces as needed. They can even try different seating options if desired — from regular chairs to beanbag chairs.

Knowing the kids, also means knowing what the students want and need, and how to support these needs in the classroom and outside.

Planning Starts With The Students In Mind

Maybe this is true everywhere, but sometimes just stating this, brings kids back to the forefront of our conversations and planning. I’ve been to a couple of staff meetings at my new school now. At both of them, the admin team shared a visual with kids at the centre of the learning. They emphasized the importance of this. Looking at all planning and initiatives under the umbrella of what students need, could help reduce so much stress. All Five Domains are addressed with this approach to planning.

Moving Beyond One Right Way

This past week, I’ve been working with educators in classrooms to help assess students. We’ve been using a couple of different assessment tools, and working one-to-one with kids as part of the process. I see how much Self-Reg is considered as part of these assessments …

  • from varying the environment to meet student needs. For example, we’ve worked in quieter spaces with some children. We even had a child take an assessment when lying upside down on a swivel chair and moving around as he read.
  • from knowing when to stop assessing. Sometimes you can tell that an assessment is way too hard. Instead of continuing and increasing a child’s stress, educators are looking at the best place to stop. Then we can reflect on what the child is able to do and where to go next.
  • from choosing different assessment tools as needed. At our first Reading Specialist Meeting of the year, our system principal shared a great question: why this assessment for this child at this time? It’s been a question that has driven a lot of our conversations recently. By selecting the assessment that works best for each child, we also reduce the stress for that student.
  • from knowing when to do the assessment. Some students are more dysregulated at certain times of the day than at others. By picking a time when children are at their best, the assessment seems to be far more accurate.

Living By This Motto

One of the teachers at the school has such a fantastic motto, which she has also shared with her families. The motto is, “Feed them. Love them. Teach them.” Think about this from a Self-Reg perspective. Ensuring that students are not hungry, that they feel loved and safe, and that they receive quality programming that meets their needs, are essential for ALL kids to succeed!

Just The Beginning

For each point that I shared here, I know that I could share so many more. What does Self-Reg look and sound like in your school buildings? My heart is happy knowing that I’m working at one of many schools where educators and administrators see the difference between misbehaviour and stress behaviour. They are constantly look at how to create kind, loving, and supportive environments that allow ALL kids to thrive!

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