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In the ever-evolving landscape of education, the concept of Shanker Self-Reg®, as introduced by Stuart Shanker, has been a game-changer. It has revolutionized how we understand the well-being of both students and educators, and fundamentally transforms approaches to learning. Self-Reg is a vital component of a modern, effective, and empathetic educational system.

Understanding Shanker Self-Reg®

Shanker Self-Reg® is a comprehensive framework that focuses on recognizing and managing the five domains of stress: biological, emotion, cognitive, social, and prosocial. It involves understanding how energy, tension and stress affects students, educators, and the learning environment, and implementing strategies to address these stressors effectively.

The Five Domains of Stress

Understanding that stress can be present in all five domains is essential and illuminates the complexity of stress. Self-Reg shows how various factors impact a student’s well-being and learning capabilities, emphasizing that stress is not solely about emotional well-being. It highlights the interconnectedness of biological, emotional, cognitive, social, and prosocial domains, making it clear that addressing one aspect can have a positive ripple effect on others. It is also essential to understand that stress is not always obvious, and sometimes can be hidden.

The Shanker Method: Five Practices of Self-Reg

The Shanker Method®, developed by Stuart Shanker, is the foundation of Self-Reg. These practices form the core of creating a Self-Regulated classroom. They include:

Reframe the Behaviour: Look at and understand the behaviour differently, in terms of the stress that caused it.

Recognize the Stressors: Be a “stress detective.” Find the stressors that are driving a child’s stress behaviour.

Reduce the Stress: We can’t eliminate all stress. But we can reduce some; particularly unnecessary and hidden stress.

Reflect. Develop Stress Awareness: Learn what a person’s (or your own) stressors are and how to recognize the signs of over-stress.

Restore Energy: Learn what helps a child (or yourself) restore energy that is burned in dealing with stress. Learn to recognize the signs of when a child (or adult) needs to restore.

These practices offer a structured approach to nurturing self-regulation in the classroom, helping educators respond more helpfully to behaviour, and mood in the classroom.

Being a Stress Detective

To successfully implement the Shanker Method®, educators need to embrace the role of a stress detective. This means actively seeking out signs of stress in their students, understanding the triggers, and responding appropriately. By recognizing stressors early, educators can intervene effectively, creating a more supportive and stress-aware learning environment.

The Importance of Self-Reg in the Classroom

1. Enhanced Learning: Self-Reg promotes optimal conditions for learning. When students are less stressed, they can focus better, retain information, and perform at their best academically.

2. Well-being: A self-regulated classroom is a place where well-being (including emotional, social, prosocial and physical well-being) is prioritized. This contributes to a positive, supportive, and inclusive learning environment.

3. Reduced Behavioural Issues: By addressing the root cause of challenging behavior (stress), Self-Reg helps in reducing disruptions in the classroom. Instead of punishing behaviour, it focuses on understanding and addressing the underlying stressors, and creating positive and meaningful relationships.

4. Improved Educator Well-being: Self-Reg is not only for students but also for educators. Educators who practice Self-Reg report experiencing reduced stress and burnout, resulting in more effective teaching, and an overall more satisfied professional life.

5. Lifelong Skills: Introducing and practicing Self-Reg equips students with invaluable life skills. They learn to manage their energy, tension and stress, understand their emotions, and make informed decisions, which are skills they’ll carry into adulthood.

6. Inclusivity: Self-Reg is adaptable and inclusive, benefiting all students, including those with diverse learning needs and backgrounds.

Shanker Self-Reg® is an approach to education, rooted in modern neuroscience, that prioritizes the well-being of both students and educators. It recognizes the multifaceted nature of stress and equips educators with the tools to address it effectively. By understanding the five domains of stress, implementing the Shanker Method®’s Five Practices and becoming stress detectives, educators can create a nurturing, effective, and inclusive classroom environment. Shanker Self-Reg® isn’t just important; it’s a transformative force that has the potential to reshape the future of education.

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