Final Reflection

What new professional learning did you acquire as a result of this project?”

The Writer’s Self-Regulation Project gave me a deeper understanding of stress and how it impacts behaviour. This project has expanded my classroom management skills to include new ideas and strategies about teaching students to self-regulate. Following our learning about identifying the domains of stress, naming the stressors and noticing them in the moment, I became a stress detective. I collected data, watched for trends and recurring stressors, which provided me the knowledge to co-regulate with the students in order to reduce the stress. My learning progressed throughout the year, as our team met, observed, discussed and expanded our knowledge through reading, research and conversations. Our presentations to educators at different schools generated excellent conversations and strengthened the network between educators with a common goal.

What was the impact of your TLLP learning, if any, on your students? How do you know?

Throughout the year, I observed students becoming increasingly aware of what they needed to be calm. As I learned to be a stress detective, I used variety of strategies to co-regulate with the students. The data collected presented stressors in common domains across the classroom and I used a pro-active approach to present lessons and role playing activities to address those needs. As I identified effective techniques to meet the needs of individual students, I was able to use the appropriate strategy immediately when needed. The end result was a faster turnaround time for students to return to being ready to learn.

What questions or goals do you have to sustain your learning? What are your next steps?

Starting next school year with this knowledge, what will the results be beginning the year as a stress detective? Each new class has different learners with unique needs. My goal is to continue the work we have begin, getting to know the students and any stressors they may have as I build classroom community in September. Also, I will be noting common areas that I can address through whole group lessons, as well as self-regulation strategies that work for the whole class. This will lead to a pro-active approach to meeting students needs. A combination of applying these strategies, as well as supporting and co-regulating with students as individual stressors arise, will build each student’s repertoire of strategies that work for them, as they learn to self-regulate.

Final Reflection: Jennifer Rogers

Q: What new professional learning did you acquire as a result of this project?

A: Learning about Self –Reg and reading Shanker’s books were very applicable to my professional learning, especially this year in my role of Behaviour Strategy Resource Teacher. As a resource teacher, I have the opportunity to connect with many students, especially those that are struggling for one reason or another each day. Actually, I have these encounters multiple times on any given day. Learning about the five domains was very helpful in naming and then in working through to reduce the stressors for the students. Quotes like ‘See a child differently, see a different child” really resonated with me. As well, Shaker talks about shifting from enforcing compliance to reducing the cause of the challenging behaviour. I feel this has positively impacted the way I approach every situation. I notice that the students sense my calm demeanor and in most cases, I can quickly de-escalate them and begin to work through the problem. It was very powerful to work along side my colleagues to problem solve and make changes throughout the school setting to support students struggling with self-regulation. It was a team approach, and I am confident our professional learning will continue to impact our student population in the coming years.

Q: What was the impact of your TLLP, if any, on your students? How do you know?

A: The impact of the TLLP was evident in our students. Working one-on-one with students who were not self-regulating was so rewarding when we were able to talk through the stressors and together identify what was the reason for their behaviour. As the year progressed, I knew it was working because I would hear the language from the students themselves, statements like “Being in a dark room calms me.” or “I can’t focus because I am hungry and my body can’t sit still”.

Q: What questions or goals do you have to sustain your learning? What are your next steps?

A: As I stated earlier, as a resource teacher, I will continue to support students with their self regulation on a daily basis. I will revisit the resources from this TLLP and hopefully will continue to refine my craft of “lending a calm lens” and being aware of my role during challenging times so that I can be the stress detective and not an additional stressor for the student. We have new staff joining us this fall, and I feel I can make an impact on demonstrating some of the strategies that we can use when dealing with a struggling student. I can be a change agent by helping my collegues reframe the behaviour and work along side them to find the stressors and work through the situation. It would be great to revisit with the TLLP team on an informal basis to help and support our students. Thank you Lisa, our team leader, for providing the opportunity for us to work and grow together!

TLLP Reflections

“What new professional learning did you acquire as a result of this project?”

I am so grateful to have been asked to participate in the TLLP this year. The learning and growth that I have experienced as a result has made me a much better educator. Last year I had the opportunity to travel to Toronto with my teacher leader to take part in the TLLP Training workshops. This experience was amazing. Having the opportunity to connect with other educators in the province and hear about their projects was very motivating. Learning how to organize and manage our own project from the finances to the group meetings to sharing our learning with others was a great experience. I now feel more confident to put myself out there and be more open to sharing my ideas and thoughts with others.

Researching self-regulation, reading Stuart Shanker’s book and sharing thoughts and ideas with my colleagues opened my eyes to a whole new aspect to classroom management. I learned that to be an effective teacher with regards to self-regulation, you need to be a good self-regulator yourself. This was huge for me. Learning how to manage my own stress and taking care of my needs both at school and at home have made me a more patient, calmer teacher.

Another important step for me was taking part in the many workshops with colleagues (planning agendas, gathering data, sharing materials, recording pod casts and writing a blog). It was neat being involved in those workshops first hand and not just as another body in a large group of people. I became confident in sharing my ideas and opinions with others. We also had the opportunity to travel to other schools and share our learning. This was a very powerful experience. Just being able to help our colleagues who struggle with the same behaviours we have was very rewarding.


“What was the impact of your TLLP learning, if any, on your students? How do you know?”


I feel that because of my learning, my students became more aware of their needs, their feelings and those of their classmates. I had a very emotional group of students this year, so I felt it necessary to work with them to identify their feelings and deal with them in appropriate ways. We used charts to identify our feelings every morning and then we openly discussed them with each other and worked through problems we might have been facing. I knew this was working when I started seeing students checking in on each other or letting me know that someone’s emotion for the day had changed. Our classroom environment became more pleasant and calm. We did lots of talking and worked through all our social/emotional troubles. It even worked on me, which was totally cool.


“What questions or goals do you have to sustain your learning?  What are your next steps?”


I did a great job working and learning with my students this year, but I have had these kids for two years. I already knew a lot about them. I wonder what this will look like next year when I meet a whole new bunch of kiddos. How will I begin the year? What behaviours will arise? What if they are not emotional kids, then what? Last Fall my administrator suggested that I look at Zones of Regulation for my classroom, but I felt that reading Self-Reg and working on the TLLP I would have enough to keep me busy. After a year’s worth of research and practice and discussions, I think I am ready to give this other program a try. I feel like it will be a great starting point for my new group of students. I will also endeavour to have one-on-one lunch dates with each student the first few weeks of school to get to know a little more about them.


As for sustaining my learning? I hope that we can continue to meet as a group and with other colleagues on a more informal basis to help and support each other with regards to self-regulations and our new students. I feel like we have so much more to learn and so much more to share. I also wonder what we could do to inform parents…

Final Reflection: Laurie Forth

I sent two of the final report questions to each member of our TLLP team and asked them to answer.  Laurie Forth, an administrator who was a member of our TLLP team, had this to say: (I’ve highlighted her words in blue.)

“What new professional learning did you acquire as a result of this project?”
I acquired the thinking that comes from the approach supported by Stuart Shanker.  I already came from a mindset of students doing well if they can, and that students lag skills in self-regulation that can be explicitly taught to support students. However the Shanker ‘approach’ provided me with the understanding of reframing behaviour and the language to communicate ‘stressors’ that impact student behaviour to support adults in their experiences working with students.
“What was the impact of your TLLP learning, if any, on your students? How do you know?”
The approach of reframing behaviours and being a ‘stress detective’ where the ares of the TLLP learning that had the biggest impact on students I indirectly supported either through the mobile team or interactions with adults.  I observed the responsive approach that adults were open to taking in regards to reframing the behaviour and changing or modifying the various stressors that were impacting student behaviour.  I observed adults feeling more empowered in dealing with student behaviour.
I think empowered is a great word for how I have felt when it come to student behaviour.  Make no mistake:  I quite often feel frustrated still.  But when I take a few minute stop and think about what is really going on, I always end up feeling like I know how to handle it, and I am capable of handling it.

Final Reflection

I have been working on the final report for our TLLP.  This is our report to the Ministry of Education about our learning.  I was expecting to have a lot of space to share my learning, but it’s a rather short form.  Thankfully I can write as many words as I want here!  🙂

One of the questions asked was, “What new professional learning did you acquire as  a result of this project?”

This is what I wrote: “The learning in this project has given us the skills that we need as adults to support our students in a productive way. Learning Stuart Shanker’s “Five domains of stress”, has helped us recognize how to effectively support a student who is showing signs of stress, and help them get back to a calm state where they can return to their learning. We are proactive instead of reactive.”

That barely scratches the surface.  Anyone who has been reading this blog all along can tell you that I personally learned a lot about self-regulation and how to manage stress – my own, as well as the stress that is evident in my students and colleagues.  I shared in a few different presentations this year that I have not had to evacuate my class all year.  Last year I evacuated every day in the month of October, and quite a few more times after that.  The big difference here is that I have learned to be a stress detective. I can identify the domain in which a student might be feeling stress, and then I can help resolve or remove the stress.  I have learned to recognize the warning signs of an impending melt-down.  I have learned to anticipate a problem before an event (such as an assembly) and have learned what I can do to make sure that the child who may struggle is supported so his/her stress level doesn’t get out of control.  I am proactive instead of reactive.

As we have all shared at various points this year, the biggest change has been in me.  I feel like I have always known to be understanding of the difficulties a child might be facing in and out of the classroom.  But I haven’t always been as aware of how my personal stress is carried over into my classroom.  I have found myself many times this year recognizing that I feel stressed, taking some time to identify the stressors in my life and working to resolve them.  Walking my students through some of these same steps has changed things for us in class as well.  It was so great to see that when we were working on our One Page Profiles many of the students were articulating self-reg strategies they need to use in order to be successful.

Finally, I have loved learning alongside my colleagues.  We came together around a common problem and had a common goal:  we wanted to support our students emotionally, not just academically.  We shared some laughs. We disagreed about a few things.  The experience of being able to work so closely with the women in this group is everything I had hoped it would be last year when I was applying for the TLLP.  Each brought a different perspective to the group which helped me in my learning journey.

I am sorry this project has to end.  I am looking forward to my own personal path forward as I continue to use and learn about Self-Reg.  In the past few months we have had to stop presenting because of a supply teacher shortage.  I am sorry the project ended this way because it feels undone.  However, I’m hopeful that none of us is going to move on to other things and wander away from our Self-Reg journey.

Everyone Gets What They Need

Now that report cards are looming, I feel a great urge to update all the blogs!  After months of not being sure what to write, all I can think about are things to blog about.  I used to call this procrastination, but have since learned this is part of my own self-regulation.  I have to get all of the junk out of my brain in order to think clearly about my reports.  If you’ve ever used the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, you will know I am not the only person who needs to do a “brain dump” in order to think clearly.

But that’s not what this post is supposed to be about!

Last week we conducted an after-school session of some staff members of our school.  We wanted to teach them more about Self-Reg, and they were keen to learn more even though we had to do it after school.  We fed them well, which seemed to be payment enough.

One of the things we had to cut in order to keep it under 2 hours was this delightful video by Shelley Moore. She is a researcher, teacher and consultant who focuses on special education.  She has created this lovely set of videos she calls “Five Moore Minutes”, which are meant to help educate people about inclusion and supporting students.  In this video, titled “Decriminalizing Supports”, she talks about how we need to support every child, not try to be equal with supports.

We were going to include this video because it really speaks to the need to think about what individuals need, rather than focusing on making things equal and same.  It talks about kids getting what they need BEFORE they have to somehow prove they “deserve” it. This is what Self-Reg is all about!

Why Now?

The other day in a presentation someone asked why we are seeing so many self-regulation related problems now.  What about our society has changed? That’s such an excellent question! Anecdotally, any teacher who has been around for a while can attest to the fact that we definitely do see a higher incidence of these now than we did 10 or 20 years ago. That leads us to ask one of Dr. Shanker’s favourite questions:  Why? And why now? I am going to write about a couple of things that I think are really prevalent now, but weren’t 10 or 15 years go. I’m sorry it sounds like an assignment for a class, but I wanted to include some sources to back up what I am including. This isn’t just my opinion.

Technology and Kids:  Part 1

In the fall, we all watched a video at a PD day that highlighted an experiment known as The Still Face Experiment Basically, mom interacts with baby and everyone is happy.  Mom stops interacting and holds her face still and baby is very unhappy.  Go watch it again and think about how often we see parents interacting with their phone instead of their child. I was in line for a ride at Magic Kingdom recently and stood behind two brothers, about age 8 and 10, and they beat the crud out of each other for at least 15 minutes while mom used her phone to do I don’t know what.  Maybe she was booking Fast Passes for something, which I get, but I think it illustrates how easy the phones can make it for parents to ignore their children. Even if parents are thinking the child is busy with their own thing, the parent isn’t interacting with the child. This means the child isn’t learning to read facial expressions and understand tone of voice, and lose out on chances to learn about the give and take of a conversation because the parent isn’t interacting with them. The child might actually be ignored to the point where they miss out on a chance to learn that their caregiver is meant to help them when they are upset.  Their neural processes get all mixed up and instead of learning that something like a block tower falling down is easy to recover from, the falling block tower becomes a really huge deal that leads to a really huge reaction. Then one day that child is in kindergarten and someone else knocks his tower down and….well, you can picture it from there. In addition, spending a few minutes watching little kids in class with an iPad will show they can carry on a conversation without ever looking at the person they are speaking to. Even if you are limiting tablet time in class, you’ve likely seen students do this and know, like I do, that this is probably going on at home too.  If you don’t believe me that this is a problem, check out this article from Psychology Today by psychotherapist Sean Grover.

Technology and kids:  Part 2

Let’s get this out of the way right now: I am writing this while my children play games on the tablet and computer. The games and videos they are allowed to access are very limited.  We don’t do violence around here! (Well, not counting brother vs. sister violence.) Every teacher reading this, from k-12, can talk about students who play a lot of violent, aggressive, fast paced video games. I once had a grade 2 child tell me his parents knew that “Rated M” means mature and they felt he was mature enough for “Grand Theft Auto”. Instead of explaining how this relates to self-regulation, I am going to link to an article by Dr. Stuart Shanker.  I will give you this one quote:  

The problem here is that these games have a powerful effect on the limbic system and the brain stem: the mammalian and reptilian brains. Neither is equipped to distinguish between “game” and “reality”: between “real threat” and “make-believe”. The former is searching for predators or prey in exactly the same way that it would do in the wild, while the latter is primed to respond with an instant spurt of epinephrine and norepinephrine to increase heart rate and blood pressure: over and over and over. What’s more, these systems remain on high alert during sleep, which may be one of the reasons why we see Ivarrson’s results: that is, it takes some time for these primitive systems to register that the “danger” is past. And, of course, prolonged fight-or-flight has a blunting effect on the prefrontal systems that subserve appraisal, self-control, and prosocial behaviour.”

 There is a lot more information the article, but even if there wasn’t, I feel like this is enough to say that the increased use of technology by humans of all ages is enough to help explain why we are seeing an uptick in the number of children who struggle to self-regulate. Remember “Pong”? I don’t either! I’m way too young. But nobody was shooting fast action assault rifles in Pong in 1984. 

Here are a few blog posts and articles you can read if you’d like to think more about this:

Aviva Dunsiger, an ELK teacher, writes about using Dash and Dot in her class and the dysregulation that came with this activity. 

And just because it’s important to think of both sides, here’s an article about how tech can be really useful as a regulation tool in the classroom.  

One thing that is talked about in the book “Self-Reg” by Dr. Shanker is that an iPad might seem to regulate a child. It might seem to calm the child.  But what happens when the iPad is taken away?  Is this followed by a huge show of dysregulation?  If it is, then this is not the tool for that child.


There are whole books written about how important it is for humans to spend time outdoors.  I think we can all agree that humans spend more time indoors now than in any previous generation. We work inside, we stay inside when it’s cold, we have a lot of fun stuff to do inside.  We have busy, planned lives that involve jumping from activity to activity. We have regulations that keep children indoors when it is too hot or too cold. The more I am thinking about this the more I feel like I need to get my kids off their tech and outside.  For the sake of time, I am going to link here to several articles you can read about this if you are thinking this might be something you’re wondering more about.

This is final one is a long read, but if you jump to page 22, you can read about the connection between outdoor time and mental health.


Final Thoughts

These aren’t all the reasons.  But I think I have highlighted some things that are different now in our society than they were 10, 15 or more years ago.

A few weeks ago there was a show on CBC that was all over social media.  A teacher talked about how violence in the classroom had effected her.  Below is a link to the follow-up show. There is some information that fits with this post and helps to explain some of the “Why? Why now?” when we are trying to figure out all the difficulty with self-regulation we see in classrooms, and society.

Final, Final thoughts:

A Small (Self-Reg) Moment

Look: I could talk to you for a few weeks about everything I know about self-regulation. But that isn’t what this is about. This is about how much learning about self-regulation has impacted every day of my life.

Several years ago, when I was teaching the class I was teaching when I first started participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge (2007), a boy in my grade 3/4 class made running car noises for three days straight.  On day one, I tried everything I could to distract him.  On day two, I mostly ignored it thinking he’d give up.  He was an attention seeker, and I was NOT going to give him any attention for this behaviour!  On day three, I lost my cool. He had, by this time, recruited the other 3 boys in the class into his game of “Annoy Mrs. Corbett and all the girls”.  They were all making running car noises at the same time until they’d collapse into a fit of giggles.  On day three, it wasn’t funny any more.  I yelled at the three of them in the hall like I have never yelled before or since.  I walked away from it feeling embarrassed by my behaviour but also feeling assured that I had shown them who was boss.

Day three was a Friday, so when we returned on Monday I wasn’t sure if the car noises would start up again or not.  They didn’t.  I’ll never know if the boys forgot about it, or just moved on.  I’m quite certain my temper tantrum did nothing to solve the problem.

I was reminded of this the other day when a child in my class made a running car noise. But this time, because I’ve spent a lot of time learning about self-regulation and more importantly Self-Reg I recognized the attention seeking behaviour as something I needed to respond to.  Instead of thinking, “I’ll ignore it until it stops, wait for a positive behaviour, and then give attention for that.”  I went straight to the child and said, “What’s up?  Is everything ok?”

It wasn’t.  So we walked through the problem and instead of turning into three solid days of running car noises (I bet you are tired of hearing me say “running car noises” and you are probably getting a feel for how it felt to hear the actual running car noises for, you know, THREE DAYS STRAIGHT!)  This child and I walked away feeling better.  I was not embarrassed by my behaviour.  Judging by the dwindling number of attention seeking incidents, I think this child feels better about these interactions too.  I’ve become someone s/he can get help from when things are hard, rather than someone that needs to be obeyed simply because I am older than the other people in the room. I feel like I have earned respect instead of demanded it.



Emoji 2.0

A few months ago I had posted about an emoji board that I had created in my class. This would allow the children to identify their feelings first thing every morning and allow me a chance to check-in. Well it has been a big success! I even had to create a new magnetic version as the first one got ripped up pretty quickly. The children absolutely love it. They remind each other to use it, they check where their friends are and they even check on me, cause I have a name tag also. One day, I put my name over the sad emoji, as I had been away the day before and the report from the supply teacher was not ideal. I had at least 5 children come up to me first thing to find out why I was sad and what they could do to help. This is happening everyday in my room. The children are also moving their name from one emoji to the other if their emotions change (recess causes lots of issues at times). This has been a very useful tool for this group of children and definitely something I will consider with future groups. I am curious to know if anyone else has a similar system in their room and what that looks like. Feel free to share in the comments please.

Group Work

We have repeatedly struggled with group work this year in room 10.  I matched them up, then rearranged them, then moved them to opposites sides of the room from each other, then moved them back.  Each iteration of the monthly learning partnerships and table-mates ended in frustration.  That might be an exaggeration.  Some of them did okay.  But for the most part we have been having trouble.

A few weekends ago, I sat down and did some stress detective work.  Why, I asked myself, did we continue to have difficulty?

I started by looking at the symptoms and signs of stress:

  • Whenever things feel apart for a group or partnership someone would cry and express the they felt nobody liked them.
  • Or, someone in the group would feel that they didn’t get any turns and nobody would listen to them.
  • Or, someone would say they had to do all the work.
  • Or, someone would say they didn’t get a turn.

On top of this, the volume in the room would get be way beyond “rock concert” level.  I already know that sound is a stressor for some of my people, and one of the things that I saw happening was that those people would get louder…and louder…and louder.

Looking at all of these symptoms, I felt that there were some really specific social, emotional, cognitive and biological stressors at play.

  • Social:  The children wanted to be seen as competent and capable by their friends (don’t we all?), and when someone else didn’t give them turns there were no opportunities to show their capabilities.  Another huge social stressor was that if someone disagreed it was seen as a huge offence. There were several who would come to me in tears saying, “They say I am wrong!” and then we’d figure they were wrong and they’d admit that, but still couldn’t believe someone had the audacity to point it out.
  • Emotional:  Tied to the stuff above were some pretty serious feelings: annoyance, disappointment, rejection.
  • Cognitive:  Having to negotiate with people can be tricky.  I felt that my students, at least a good chunk of them, literally didn’t know how to do that.  They didn’t know how to say they disagreed without shouting “NO!!!” or “YOU’RE WRONG!”  They literally didn’t get why their peers were having emotions because of something they said.
  • Biological: As I said before, quite a few of my students are very sensitive to loud noises. It hurts their ears.  Also, some of them can’t listen to one thing if there are other things going on in the room. I am actually like this.  If you are driving with me and want to talk, we will have to turn the radio off!  I can’t listen to both.

So there we were.  I felt good about my list of stressors.  Now, what could I do to reduce the stress?  I decided to have some explicit lessons on how to be a good partner.  I wanted the things we talked about to fit along with the stresses being exhibited in the room.  This is what we came up with:

I knew I was on to something when they had a lot of trouble contributing to this anchor chart.  I had to give them the first two.  They knew everyone shouldn’t argue, and that they should get too loud.  But the other ideas on the chart seemed like new knowledge for us.  Number 8 led to some really good conversation!

Three times now, before I have sent them off to work with a partner on something, we have reviewed our list. They have done pretty well!  I feel like we need to further discuss how to disagree with someone in a way that moves the discourse further along while also not offending.  It’s tricky for some adults!  But I feel confident we can get there.

After our activities, I have reviewed the list too.  I have complimented them on their volume, and on the “no arguing”.  Now I need to go around and watch for some specific examples I can highlight.

For me this is a Self-Reg success.  I feel like my detective work has led me to recognize some lagging skills that were leading to a whole class problem.  Now we are on our way to acquiring the skills we need for success in the future!

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