Self-Regulation for Educators

Self-Regulation: How to Minimize Stimuli to Increase Mindful Presence

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Part of what contributes to burnout is the stress cycle and our inability to manage the effects of external stress on our moods and bodies. Our moods are often affected by external stimuli. Dr. Stuart Shanker and I once talked on KindSight101 about the 5 domains that affect our mental state. He also indicated several proven ways that we can self-regulate to achieve some kind of homeostasis between our possible states. Our bodies and minds are constantly trying to seek equilibrium between our 4 energetic states. According to the Thayer matrix, we have 4 main energetic states that exist within a matrix. When it comes to our colleagues and students, often we can search for visual and auditory clues to identify the different states people are in.

High Energy, Low Tension (Ideal State):

  • You are happy and/or excited
  • Overall high arousal and alertness
  • Positive affect
  • Picture This:
    • your child anticipating his birthday party,
    • imagine you’ve just received a promotion at work,
    • you’ve just completed report cards and there are no corrections

High Energy, High Tension

  • You are angry and/or anxious
  • Overall high arousal and alertness
  • Negative affect
  • Picture This:
    • Imagine that you have just been rear-ended on your way to work,
    • a student has just thrown a chair across the room,
    • your principal has just asked to speak to you in a stern tone

Low Energy, Low Tension

  • You are relaxed and/or calm
  • Overall low arousal and alertness
  • Positive affect
  • Picture This:
    • You have just finished a guided meditation
    • You just got a massage and you’re feeling relaxed and sleepy
    • You’ve entered your classroom earlier than usual, finished your list of things to do and now have 30 minutes before the bell rings to read or catch up with colleagues

Low Energy, High Tension (Least Desireable state)

  • You are sad and/or bored, restless
  • Overall low arousal and alertness
  • Negative affect
  • Picture This:
    • You didn’t get the job you wanted and you’re feeling disappointment
    • You haven’t yet started the report cards that are due in a week, it’s Sunday afternoon, and it’s raining
    • You’re favourite Vice Principal is leaving your school

Throughout the day, it is always a good idea to check in about our state-of-mind. Ask yourself: What state am I in? Why am I in that state? What stressors are affecting my mood? How might I address my state? Shanker outlines a wonderful framework through which we are able to self-regulate. The model is often used in classrooms with students who struggle to regulate the fluctuations in their own emotions, but his method is tremendous for adults too, since we also experience high variations between our energetic states. It is possible to engage with life in a calm and productive way, we just need to start by identifying some of the hidden stressors we’re up against.

5 Step Shanker Self-Reg Method:

  1. Reframing: According to Shanker, “We want to understand the difference between misbehaviour and stress behavior.” We need to distinguish between laziness and limbic breaking. We have to tune into our own needs, asking ourselves: What are your needs? The truth is, teachers need self-reg every bit as much as the kid. We need to acknowledge our energetic state and reframe our behaviour as an unmet need.
    1. Change the view of yourself: Reframe what is misbehaviour vs. what is stress behaviour?
    2. Identify what happens when we don’t get the behaviour under wraps. How do we feel when we are “out of control?” What are some of the thoughts going through our heads?
    3. Change your mindset: Instead of judging yourself for your behaviour, become a stress detective and approach your state from a curious standpoint.
    4. Find a way to turn off our limbic alarm. Ground yourself in the present moment. Take a break. Give yourself some space to think things through.
  2. Identify the stresses: There are 5 different types of stress that affect our mood and state of mind:
    1. Physical stress: Noise, lights, pain, and even the proximity of other people can cause undue stress on your nervous system. When I think about the COVID-19 pandemic, it was often stressful to be in the classroom or in a grocery store near other people because we were all so attuned to the possibility of getting infected by someone, unknowingly and had very little control over our physical stress. In many ways, the physical stress of being around people at this time caused me to avoid the grocery store as much as possible.
    2. Emotional stress: Strong emotions (positive and negative) can be overwhelming and even scary, so some of our behaviour comes from shutting down when the emotions become too big to handle. For example, when my children are in an elevated stress state and are fighting, I often feel a rising tension and alertness, too. Positive emotions can be hard too. Falling in love can be overwhelming, even though it is a positive.
    3. Cognitive Stress: A stress that makes a big demand on the working memory in our brain (eg. Math vs. art) can be categorized as cognitive stress. Children, specifically, are all developing at a different speeds. Some children have a different maturation in different skills and areas of the brain. A child with adhd has a slower maturation of the part of the brain that houses the internal biological clock. For example, time actually goes more slowly for them. Five minutes might feel like an hour to them. We, ourselves, might have a low frustration tolerance when we are learning something new, like a new app or technology. Are there ways that we can reduce the cognitive stresses in our lives?
    4. Social Stress: Social stress can be really challenging because it often calls into question our belonging, which is one of our fundamental human emotional needs. For a child in school this can be really stressful; we often think of the bullied child on the first day of school, having to each lunch all alone in the cafeteria. Educators often face similar stress. Fitting in with colleagues, managing disagreements and differences of opinions, and even making small talk at the holiday party cause significant social stress.
    5. Pro-social Stress: Our own ability to tune into the stress of others can be stressful. Empathy can be a stress. For example, if I feel someone else’s distress, I can become distressed. Children have a lot of trouble separating someone else’s distress from their own. They often shut down their empathy and compassion. Then, we get angry because the child is presenting as mean or selfish. The truth is, some adults also feel the weight of pro-social stress, too. When we find ourselves mind-reading to people please or when we consistently find ourselves managing others’ strong emotions, we can feel emotionally burnt out. It is possible to reduce the pro-social stress.
  3. Reduce the Stress: Now that you have eliminated the judgement from your behaviour, choosing instead to look at your stress through the eyes of a curious stress detective, you have identified the possible stressors, it is now time to examine the ways in which you can reduce some of the stressors in your life. Here are a few examples of ways you might reduce the stressors in each of the domains:
    1. Physical
      1. Experiment with lighting
      2. Reduce noise level
    2. Emotional
      1. Build in breaks for yourself
      2. Build in anticipatory stress reducers: activity, gratitude, positive relationships
  • What are some of the things that help you to stay calm?
  1. Cognitive:
    1. Identify particular tasks that are consistently challenging for you and give yourself more resources to solve the tasks
    2. Perhaps you need to give yourself permission to outsource certain tasks that consistently bring on the stress like, for example, filing taxes.
  • Allow yourself more time to complete difficult jobs or data entry. Schedule it in and be consistent with your own schedule.
  1. Give yourself the gift of a quiet, uninterrupted space to work when the going gets tough. Nothing is worse than navigating a challenge when kids are demanding your attention or dinner needs to be made.
  1. Social:
    1. Allow yourself some down time when you feel overwhelmed by others.
    2. Seek out the social connections that leave you feeling “full” not depleted.
  2. Prosocial:
    1. Allow yourself permission to create boundaries for yourself. You cannot pour from an empty cup. You cannot always take care of others if you don’t allow yourself some recharge time.
    2. If you find yourself in a one-way relationship, where you are always the one giving your time and resources, you are enabling an unhealthy dependency and it is okay to create some healthy space within the relationship.
  3. Self-Awareness: An important part of decreasing the stressors in our lives starts with our own self-awareness, that ability to tune into ourselves. It’s helpful to check in with yourself every once in a while, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed and ask:
    1. When are you becoming overstressed, what does calm feel like? What does safety feel like?
    2. What are my coping strategies for dealing with stress? Sometimes these cause more stress. What are some of your maladaptive coping strategies? What are you dissociating yourself from, when it comes to hard emotions and reactions? What are you numbing yourself to?
    3. Are you aware of the beauty of your soul? You are someone with wonderful strengths. How can you identify and name some of those strengths in this moment?
  4. Restore: What gives you balance in all of your domains? Sleep? Diet? What are the activities that make you feel restored? Meditate? Run? Walks? Sit in nature. Do more of what makes you feel good and gives you a senses of homeostasis. Balance itself is always a moving target, so it’s unrealistic to aim to feel balanced at all times. Nevertheless, the key to feeling a sense of wholeness and health comes from the ability to ask ourselves, “What do I need right now?” and to nurture that need in return.

Ep. 89: How to be “Teacher of the Year” (With Kayla Dornfeld)

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https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/kindsight-101/id1412489005?mt=2

Kayla Dornfeld is the 2019 North Dakota Teacher of the Year, and Mrs. West Fargo International. Kayla is a two-time (2017 and 2018) Global Hundred honoree, recognizing her as 1 of the top 100 innovative educators in the world. The New York Times named her “one of the tech-savviest teachers in the United States”.

She has 13 years of teaching experience in second and third grade. Kayla holds her master’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of North Dakota. In September 2018, she received the University of North Dakota Sioux Award, the highest honor of achievement offered by her University.

Governor Doug Burgum has recognized Kayla for her contributions to education in North Dakota, and assigned her a chair on North Dakota’s Innovative Education Task Force. 

She has been recognized as both an “ISTE Influencer” and “HarperCollins Publishing Influencer”. Additionally, in March 2018, she was named 1 of just 30 “All-Star Digital Innovators” in the United States by PBS. Who’s Who in America has also awarded Kayla for her contributions to education by publishing her biography.

Kayla frequently travels around the United States and other countries as a featured and keynote speaker. She has delivered hundreds of keynotes, one of note being at Twitter Headquarters. On July 23, 2015 she delivered her first TEDx Talk, Reimagining Classrooms: Students as Leaders and Teachers as Learners

Her work with classroom redesign and flexible seating has become the standard worldwide. She is currently writing a book about classroom learning spaces and flexible seating, titled FlexED: Flexible Seating for Flexible Learners, set to release in 2020. She is also a co-author of the best-selling book Education Write Now, published in December 2017, and 10 Perspectives on Learning in Education, coming out in December 2019.

You can connect with Kayla on all social media platforms @topdogteaching, and her student led social media accounts @topdogkids.

 

21-Days of (Physically-Distanced) Kindness

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As we make preparations to move back into the classroom in British Columbia, tensions are high and people across sectors are scrambling to accommodate back-to-work orders in a physically-distanced, Covid-pandemic era.

I’ve been scouring the internet for ideas that will enable me to continue supporting my students’ online learning and Social Emotional Learning, while attempting to prepare to provide loving, caring, and educational in-person learning opportunities within the physical school building.

While I am still on the hunt for wonderful physically-distanced group games and community building activities, I know that creating an environment of kindness and empathy is essential to helping all of us feel psychologically safe at a time when so much feels uncertain.

When we are in stress, cortisol blocks our ability to connect meaningfully to one another. Our social connections have been proven to be central to our well-being as human being. One of the ways that we can counteract the negative effects of cortisol is to be kind! Oxytocin (the love hormone) is released when we’re kind to one another, which decreases our stress levels.

Co-regulation is our ability to convey calm emotions and state of mind just by modelling it. Because of the way that our brain architecture works, all of our emotions are contagious. Back in the caveman days, our mirror neutrons helped us to pick up on danger signals by interpreting the facial expressions, vocal tone, and body language of those around to determine whether we were in safety or danger.

In order to foster a calm, happy classroom environment, it will be helpful for educators to model that calm and joyful energy so that we can co-regulate with our colleagues, administrators, the parents, and, most importantly, our students.

I’ve created 21-Days of Physically-Distanced Kindness that I thought might be a helpful first step in creating a happier online or in-person classroom experience.

Here is the free google-doc for your use. Please feel free to use it, share it, and adapt it (just make a copy). It offers 7 ways to be kind to yourself, 7 ways to be kind to others, and 7 ways to be kind to the world.

Also, I’ve recorded a few Covid-specific episodes for your listening pleasure:

  1. Dr. Shimi Kang : Healthy Heartfelt Habits for the Covid Crisis
  2. Dr. Jody Carrington: Not Today Corrrrona! How to survive the pandemic while working from home, balancing kids, and trying not to lose your mind.
  3. Trevor Mackenzie: Distance Learning Through Inquiry
  4. What to do with a Problem: A reflection from me to you about how to lean into the tough emotions you might be feeling and to come out the other end without self-judgement.

 

Marble-Jar Trust (Brené Brown)

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

When starting up the year, I often refer to Dr. Brené Brown’s brilliant concept of the Marble Jar. Imagine that the trust in each of the relationships in your life is represented by a marble jar. At it’s core, Brené (yes, like most humans my age, I would like to imagine that we are on a first-name basis), explains that trust is built in the micro-moments, the seemingly insignificant moments of interaction. 

Relationships are build on trust. We can deposit marbles and build up our sense of trust or withdraw them and degrade that sense of trust through our interactions. When someone is able to make more deposits than withdrawals, generally, we trust them.

Trust can be deposited through:

  • asking for help,
  • receiving the generosity of others,
  • giving without recompense,
  • contributing constructive and helpful feedback,
  • designating and maintaining clear boundaries,
  • being capable and reliable,
  • owning your sh*t, being a vault,
  • choosing courage over comfort,
  • practicing non-judgement,
  • standing up for someone through integrity
  • and creating a generous narrative about others

She also makes a note about not confusing real trust for counterfeit trust. Real trust isn’t always easy to build. Integrity is a big part of creating a sense of trust. Being a chameleon, someone who changes depending on the surrounding political and social environment does not elicit a sense of trust from people. Gossiping is the worst kind of counterfeit trust, because as much as it hot-wires fake connection, it erodes the deep sense of trust within a relationship (and can often ripple outward to the climate at work or school).

#smallactbigimpact #kindsight101

 

 

Painted the Future: An Exercise in Goal-Setting

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If you’re wanting to make some solid changes within your life, chances are that you’re going to have to take a different approach than the one you’ve taken before. Goal-setting guru Cameron Harold has explained the painted picture exercise which takes you through a personalized visualization of the future you wish to be leading. The remarkable thing is that it actually works! You can manifest more money, more fulfilling career and changes to your current trajectory. All you have to do is imagine that they can happen.
Start this way:
1. Lean into your future by 3 years by visualizing it in painstaking detail:
  • What are you doing, feeling, what is it you’re doing to derive money, and what does your day to day schedule look like.
  • Visualize (adjust after a while if you need to)
  • If you don’t set your direction you’re just living by default
2. Don’t just think of one option for your future, try on a few for size:
It’s like trying on a new outfit: do it about three options
  • A: idea
  • B: idea
  • C: idea
3. Zoom out again with an evaluative lens:
  • If your future visualization sucks, don’t do it!
  • If it’s good, it can become your North Star
4. We are born creative- the unique ability to fire up our imagination in such a way to live into our future.
5. Ask yourself:
  • Who are you meant to be?
  • What do you wish your legacy to be?
  • Are your interactions positive?
  • How do you want those who interact with you to feel?

6. Keep checking back about your mental image about the future.

 

Commit or Quit?

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There are four statements that super-entrepreneurs, Chase Jarvis and Chris Guillibeau suggest you should consider before you commit or quit a current endeavour. Quite often, we’re scared of quitting…of being branded as non-committal, of giving up before the getting is good.
It turns out that quitting is important. Our resources (time, money, attention) are often finite, so the more we engage with, the more fractured our capabilities become.
So, think about your current endeavour in relation to these 4 statements. It’s kind of like choose your own adventure…
You love it and it’s working.
  • Best case scenario…keep going!
You hate it and it’s working. 
  • This can be tricky. Ask yourself what can be changed about either your expectations or how you can bring more joy into your current endeavour. Even if something makes you a lot of money, it may not always make for a happy and fulfilled life.
You love it and it’s not working.
  • How can you find a way to serve the audience better or how can you reconcile what isn’t working with the fact that you love this endeavour as a hobby? Sometimes, it can be as easy as rebranding what we thought we were hoping to achieve. If it’s just a hobby…it really doesn’t owe you anything.
You hate it and it’s not working.
  • This seems pretty clear, right? Find something else ASAP and ditch the gig.

*”working” can mean making money, making impact, or enabling you to have more freedom

Ep. 90: The Dope Educator (With David Jay)

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https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/kindsight-101/id1412489005?mt=2

Featured on Access Hollywood | Instagram @thedopeeducator | I inspire | Educator | Speaker |

This teacher has found a way to get his fifth graders pumped up for learning: He challenges them to create their own handshakes.

David Jamison, a language arts teacher at Hickory Ridge Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee, memorized the individual greetings from each of the 75 students he teaches.

Classes are separated into groups of three and Jamison greets every student with their unique handshakes

“It increases that bond with the students,” he told “Good Morning America.” “When you have that kind of relationship with a kid, they don’t want to let you down because they know you love and care for them.”

Shelby County Schools shared a video of the handshakes on Twitter, where its been viewed 20,000 times.

“I was overwhelmed,” Jamison said of the viral attention. “That was the key to spread more positivity.”

Jamison, a father of one, said it’s his third year teaching and he’s done the handshakes each year.

It takes Jamison about a minute to do the handshakes with each group. It’s followed by “Do Now” classwork, where the kids get right to work practicing a lesson they learned the day prior.

The one with the most innovative handshake wins a prize from Jamison. This term’s winner will be announced next week, he said.

 

Follow him on Instagram at @thedopeeducator

 

 

Not Today Corrrrrrrona! (With Dr. Jody Carrington)

 

CarringtonJody_18_428-768x1152Dr. Jody Carrington (child psychologist and author of Kids These Days) talks to me about the Corona Virus pandemic and what we can do to get a grip during this uncertain rollercoaster ride.

Listen as she outlines how we can:

-navigate the topsy turvy disruption in routine and the world as we know it
-create the illusion of proximity through remote connection (since we’re all wired and hungry for it)
-overcome the overwhelm and bring ourselves back to joy
-rise above the “chippiness” in our relationships… “now is not the time for a divorce!”
-engage in self-compassion practices that help us to avoid comparison and self-judgement

We are all just walking each other home. As long as we’re ok, the kids will be ok.

Keep your eyes open for the educator follow up to Kids These Days this fall, as Dr. Jody Carrington teams up with the amazing Laurie McIntosh when they release their new book

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Over the past 15 years, Dr. Jody Carrington has assessed, treated, educated and empowered some of our most vulnerable and precious souls on the planet. She is a child psychologist by trade, but Jody rarely treats kids. The answer lies, she believes, in the people who hold them. Especially when kids have experienced trauma, that’s when they need big people the most. Some of her favourites include educators, parents, first responders, and foster parents. Jody has shifted the way they think and feel about the holy work that they do.

Before Jody started her own practice and speaking across the country, she worked at the Alberta Children’s Hospital on the inpatient and day treatment units where she held families with some of the difficult stories. They taught her the most important lesson: we are wired to do hard things. We can handle those hard things so much easier when we remember this: we are wired for connection.

This all started when Jody received her Bachelor of Arts with Distinction from the University of Alberta. She completed a year-long internship with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police during that time, and worked along side families struggling with chronic illness at the Ronald McDonald House. She received her Master’s degree in Psychology at the University of Regina and completed her PhD there as well, before completing her residency in Nova Scotia.

Her first book, Kids These Days: A Game Plan for (Re)Connecting with those we Teach, Lead & Love, came out in 2019 and sold 20,000 copies in just three months. It is now on Amazon’s Best Sellers List.

 

Healthy Heartfelt Habits for the Covid Crisis (With Dr.Shimi Kang)

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https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/kindsight-101/id1412489005?mt=2

Child psychologist, Dr. Shimi Kang (author of The Tech Solution and The Dolphin Parent) explains how to navigate this uncertain times during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We cover a lot of ground and here are a few ideas she shares with us:

-the three mindsets to avoid in order to ward off post-traumatic-stress disorder

– learning how to bring out contribution in those around you and how kindness is a psychological superfood

– the three things to keep in mind as you talk to kids about this pandemic

– how you can navigate the difficult feelings associated with grief

– how tech isn’t all bad: the three c’s of healthy tech that will alleviate the guilt you might feel as you rely on tech to work from home

Dr. Shimi Kang

Dr. Shimi Kang is an award-winning, Harvard-trained doctor, researcher, media expert, writer, and keynote speaker who specializes in how the mind works. She provides science-based solutions for innovation, leadership, wellness, and resilience. Her expertise lies in the neuroscience of mental health, addiction, motivation, relationships, and optimal performance. Dr. Kang has spent over 20 years researching, treating, and working with people from all walks of life.

Dr. Kang is the author of The Dolphin Parent: A Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Self-Motivated Kids (Penguin Random House 2014) and The Self Motivated Kid (Penguin Tarcher 2015). The Dolphin Parent is a #1 National Bestseller and The Self-Motivated Kid won the 2015 US News International Book Award in the Parenting and Family Category. Her books have been released in 12 countries around the world and her newest title, The Tech Solution, will be available in August 2020!

 

 

Yes or No? The Surprising No-Fail Decision Metric from Marie Forleo

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The amazing entrepreneur, podcast queen, and super-star self-development personality, Marie Forleo just came out with the terrific new book, Everything is Figure-outable. Back in the fall of 2019, she broke down the steps on getting your compass straight with Chase Jarvis on his podcast show:

  1. Ask yourself: “When I think about doing this project or saying yes to this opportunity, do I feel expansive or contracted?”
  2. Moving your body helps to get clear about your feelings too. There is infinite wisdom in your body and it will show you how you feel if you tune-in, so pay close attention. Go for a walk or a run and continue asking yourself until you get clear.
  3. If you feel deep down that the opportunity feels constricting… don’t do it. If the nervousness is still present, but you feel like the situation will feel like an expansion… go for it!
  4. Expansive is exciting. The contraction feels like a pit, the sinking feeling… trust the little voice.
Trust your innermost wisdom. You know in your heart what to do. No one knows what’s right for you more than you do. Don’t ask for advice. Listen to that intuition.
#smallactbigimpact #kindsight101 #intuition #fear #decisions #podcast #teachersofinstagram #education #business