Bruce Perry, Trauma, Regulation, and Working to Get to Learning…

November 27, 2013

“Because of one person in a leadership role, I was able to change the cycle of poverty for myself…”
Dr. Lucy Miller, President and CEO of United Way (One amazing person! I am extremely thankful for the time I spent with her this morning!)

That one thing might be anything you do or say on one day to make the change and break this cycle. One word, one interaction, one relationship…

How do we set kids up for success every day they come to school? They are dealing with cycles of poverty, abuse, negligence and neglect, hunger, lack of sleep, worn or old clothing, mental health issues, lack of medical or dental care, lack of support, the loss of parents and death, etc. Stuff that no child should have to deal with… ever… but they do. We have some extremely resilient kids…

We are powerful and can make an effect for them.

At Keeler School, we have been examining how we help kids to regulate themselves at the start of the day, and starting to question how we do this first thing in the morning, every morning. Bruce Perry’s development of the Neurosequential Model in Education (NME) works to help educators understand student behavior and performance, recognizing the crucial importance of childhood experience in shaping the health of the individual, and ultimately, society. (See for more information.) My amazing admin team partner, Lisa, adores his work (and him as well!), and understands how we need to integrate it into our work, and I learn from her every day! (Thanks Bartel!)

We know kids are coming to us escalated each morning. We know they need help, whether the students know it or not. We also know that we have control over and guide how most of our day goes at school. (Although we may forget this at times… :-)) We know that how we regulate ourselves affects how we work and get through… We know that with students as well.

Ever come into school after being stuck in traffic for hours? After having a major argument with your spouse? Not sleeping the night before? I know when I become a mess, but I also know I have (at least some) strategies for dealing with that. Coffee… Talking with kids… Breathing… Thinking positively… Bouncing my knee up and down… Throwing the baseball I have in my office up in the air over and over… (And yes, some of these drive people in my life crazy!)

So how do kids deal with these issues coming in? Forced to do what the teacher wants? Where is your homework? Why are you causing issues in the classroom? At recess? Punching other kids? Never mind actually engaging in actual learning behaviours…

Some of the staring ideas we are playing with and developing, depending on the class, age, etc., include:

  • Deep-breathing
  • taking time for quiet and mindfulness
  • yoga
  • dance
  • mathematics movement
  • folding paper/origami
  • Brain Gym
  • morning activities with time to finish up work or do independent work
  • playing music
  • supplying and sharing breakfast or food
  • “come into the Learning Zone”
  • use of appropriate teacher voice,
  • exercise
  • helping students learn about how they best regulate and how to implement self-regulation
  • and the building of relationships with kids (however this looks like…)

That list is not nearly exhaustive, but is only a beginning. We know this is the work.

We spent some (great) time the other day being able to talk about our kids and how do help to regulate them and start to learn self-regulation strategies to help them in learning. Teachers went over the time and could have talked for hours, talking with very specific purposes in mind, and working in a PLC type format specifically about kids. It was amazing… and will continue!

After all, I do agree with Lucy Miller… Education is the key to breaking these cycles.

Work hard, learn tonnes!


Just Normal Kids Demonstrating Huge Generosity…

November 13, 2013

One of the people who ran for a school board trustee in my area had as part of her platform that students should not be raising funds for outside agencies. Honestly, I could not disagree more, and cite the case below…

Being in a high need school where poverty is an issue for many of our families, I find this thinking reprehensible and apart from our work of helping students to become excellent citizens. Students from Keeler School were featured on Global TV news last night for the work they were doing in setting goals and setting up a food drive for the Veterans Food Bank. The news story was extremely interesting as many of the kids admitted that they had actually used the food bank with their family at times.

The best part of this is that they were all so proud to be giving back and helping out with people outside their school and in the greater community. There was passion, engagement, and a feeling of a job well done as they knew it was great work they were engaging in.

Looking around at our students, I think it just goes to show that our kids are just normal kids and just happened to be born in a specific area of Calgary. They have the same caring, sharing, sense of belonging, and generosity that every other student has and demonstrates.

Keeler Cougars, as always, I am proud of the work that you do every day and I am proud to also be considered a Keeler Cougar!

Work hard, learn tons!

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