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86. Self-Regulation in the Classroom with Occupational Therapist Lauren Casey

Have you ever been in a situation where you are trying to help one of your students better manage a behaviour by offering them strategies, but it seems like no matter what you do, the student can’t seem to correct it? As teachers, I think we’ve all been there! That’s why we invited occupational therapist Lauren Casey on the podcast to talk to us about how to reframe the behaviour so that we can understand it better and then respond to it in a more efficient way. We are diving into the topic of self-regulation in today’s podcast episode & blog post!

To start off, what is self-regulation?

According to expert Stuart Shanker, it is: “The ability to manage stress and refers to the neural processes that control the energy expended to deal with a stressor and then recover. When an individual’s stress levels are too high various systems for thinking and metabolic recovery are compromised. The signs of dysregulation show up in the behaviour, or mood, or attention, and physical well-being.”

Explicit teaching is key

We can teach our students to self-regulate in the classroom, but it has to be done explicitly. We can’t expect a student to use a sensory tool properly if they’ve never been taught how or if no boundaries are set around the use of it. We can’t expect a student to react appropriately to another student if they’ve never been taught how. It’s up to us as teachers to teach our students to self-regulate if we want to see progress.

Fill up your own cup

According to Lauren (listen to Lauren’s episode by scrolling down the page!), if we want our students to self-regulate, first we need to regulate ourselves as teachers. That means we need to take care of ourselves and fill up our own cups, as well as learn and use strategies that will help us regulate ourselves in stressful moments in the classroom! For example, when a student behaves inappropriately, we can count two breaths in our heads before responding to the situation. This will help students remain calm and regulate themselves as well!

Reframe the behaviour

In this week’s The Balanced Educator Podcast episode, Lauren shared some great questions we can ask ourselves to reframe student behaviour so we can understand it better:

  1. How can we look at the behaviour in an inquisitive way?
  2. How can we manage the environmental components around the student to help them better regulate?
  3. What strategies and skills can we teach this student to help them with their struggle?

Teach self-awareness skills

Lauren also talked about the importance of helping our students develop their body awareness so they can better understand the bodily signs they are feeling in a moment of stress. When they can gain awareness of what’s going on within themselves, they can learn how to listen to the signs of stress and in turn, learn how to self-regulate.

How can we teach our students to become more self-aware? Through a daily mindfulness practice!

Mindfulness in the classroom

With our online mindfulness program for the classroom, Educalme Classroom, students learn how to become more aware of their thoughts, emotions and behaviours. This leads to self-regulation. The best part? There is no prep required with this program!

You can try it for free!

Get unlimited access to the first unit of the Educalme Classroom online mindfulness program (that’s one month of free ready-to-use mindfulness practices for the classroom!). Watch the step by step teacher training video and feel confident bringing mindfulness into your classroom with success.

To go even deeper on this topic, listen to our episode on The Balanced Educator Podcast below. Lauren shared so many useful strategies to use in the classroom for self-regulation!

Be sure to subscribe to the Balanced Educator Podcast so you don’t miss our upcoming episodes as we continue to teach how to avoid teacher burnout. iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play

Show notes:

Learn more about Stuart Shanker’s work.

Share this post on Pinterest so other educators can learn strategies for self-regulation in the classroom!

Let us know in the comments, how do you teach self-regulation in the classroom?

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