Building relationships is at the very heart of Self-Reg. This summer, I have a position that’s similar to my one from previous years, except that instead of being a Site Lead, I’m now a coordinator for the Board’s summer camp programs. I still get to spend my time working with instructors, students, administrators, and families, but I now have the opportunity to do so at all five sites instead of just one. This position has given me a wonderful chance to further develop my observation skills.

Since I’m not responsible for a single camp group, but instead supporting all of them, I often find myself standing back at first and observing the space and the kids. This is as true when I enter one classroom as it is when I enter a large group camp gathering. The interesting thing about this approach is that my eyes are often drawn to the students on the outskirts.

  • Who is not participating?
  • Who is sitting alone?
  • Who is doing something different?
  • Who is acting out?

Over the past week, it’s these observations that have allowed me to connect and build relationships with some wonderful campers, and different ones than those who might have initially grabbed my attention if I immediately entered play, discussed learning, or joined a large group activity.

I’m sharing this thinking because I’ve realized that it’s partially my position, which creates this opportunity to easily spend longer blocks of time with a few students who might need this time even more than other students do. I also keep thinking about these words of wisdom by Stuart Shanker: “Self-Reg always starts with building a relationship.”

Some students are easier to build relationships with than others. And just like other educators I’m sure, it’s easy to find myself gravitating to these students. The last week has shown me though that we need to be looking for those students on the edges. We need to find ways to connect with each and every child. Yes, it takes a lot more time to connect with some students than others. But maybe these children need this extra time. I truly believe that the long-term benefits will be worth the time invested. And so, as another school year is upon us, I’m going to remind myself to spend a little additional time noticing those few kids. What might happen if we all start with them? There really might be a Self-Reg component to observation.