We are quickly approaching the first day of school for Canada, well most of us (if you have been like me in a balanced calendar it’s now week four :)) But for many of us, the hustle and bustle of getting back into the swing of things is upon us. As I see the business unfold I cannot help but think about my daughter amongst other things that I hope I can articulate here.
I know lately a lot of my writing has been about my daughter but that is because she has been one of the biggest shifts in my career. You can read about her in other blog posts but in a nut shell, my daughter struggles with school. She has a communication delay and a social skill delay that makes being and doing “school” very hard. So as everyone is getting ready for school, my daughter is building up her anxiety levels and has a hard time communicating this to us. All we get is aggression, behaviour and the occasional comment about her feelings. It isn’t that she hates school, or her teachers but that she knows she has a difficult time or seems to always get into trouble.
Recently some good friends of mine have been posting some interesting thoughts that have also made me think more about the first day or welcoming our new students. Aviva Dunsinger latest post on “rethinking the principal’s office” got me thinking about Self-Reg again and just this very moment Rolland Chidiac just posted this tweet:
— Rolland Chidiac (@rchids) August 22, 2017
In her post, (and I hope I do this justice), Aviva reflects on her new role this summer having to be an admin of a summer school program. She asks a hard question about the room and what it does to our kids but more importantly it was this quote that got me thinking.
Over the summer, every time that somebody’s approached me with a problem, I’ve tried to think of Stuart Shanker‘s words: “Why this child? Why now?” I’ve attempted to see the problem through a Self-Reg lens, and respond accordingly. I’m not going to say that this is always easy, or that I haven’t made mistakes, but something interesting happens in the “library office.” As children come in, sit down, and play, they slowly start to calm down. As they start to feel calm, they talk. It’s through this discussion that I begin to see the problem from their perspective. We work out solutions together and find a way to make it back to the classroom.
I have been on a long journey with my daughter and self-reg, and it has been the best journey of my life. Like Aviva, I now see a lot more through this lens. I am not always perfect at it but when I see a behaviour I automatically question why the child may feel that way and try to understand them. It isn’t anymore about the action they did but more about why they would be doing this. I am often reminded that students act out for four reasons: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired (H.A.L.T). When I try and see problems through this lens I can often circumvent the issue. In addition, the more I stay alerted for these problems the more I can be proactive and avoid the problems completely.
Rolland’a post fit so nicely into this thought too. It reminded me about the opposite of Izzy (my daughter). Whereas she has anxiety towards school, there are some students wanting to be at school. Furthermore, our classroom maybe the safest place they will ever have. It is a powerful thing to think about.
We as educators have such a powerful place in society. I have always known this but the more I think about my daughter, Self-reg and the baggage/ journeys our students have the more I know this to be true. Our students each have a unique story. They all have their problems but the one thing they all have in common is they all want to be loved. At times this is harder to do but as Shanker reminds us:
There is no bad child
So as we start our new journey this year I would encourage you to think about your students. I know we all do but really think about their stories. When a problem occurs instead of thinking “oh here’s another problem” try and see why students are acting the way they are. Even the ones that really want to be at school may have different behaviours than the ones who don’t. Some may annoy, some may fight. Bottom line is all want to be loved and be with you. You are special to them. You make a difference and just like they matter, so do you. Good luck my friends as you enter this new journey. You are amazing!