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

“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!


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

  1. Jen, Lien and Lisa T. says:

    The grade one team planned out some exciting and engaging activities for the science unit on The Five Senses.
    We also looked at the next point in the Incredible You (You are filled with love) and the activities that will go along with it. We will be showing generosity by creating a surprise for our buddies and working on the importance of friendship and how we show it.

  2. laura says:

    Hey Derek,
    I enjoy reading all the great work still going on at Keeler. I wanted to share something with you that our school is doing with regards to self regulation. We have started the Mind Up program. It teaches kids how to use their amygdala, pre-frontal cortex and the hippocampus effectively to help them self regulate. There are also some relaxation strategies that teachers are implementing and are seeing results. It is divided into Div. 1 and Div. 2 curriculum.


  3. Sonya, Brianne and Lisa says:

    The Grade 6 team were finally back together after more than a week! Some forward planning was accomplished to incorporate the increased L & L time with Grade 6. We also collaboratively worked on finishing writing the assessments for our students on IPPs and finalizing goals for next term as a team, taking into account some changing responsibilities in leading learning groups.

  4. Lunnin and Polok says:

    During CILO time, the grade 5 teachers were hard at work. For the first part of the day, we joined the YMCA teachers and parents meeting. The students held their own meeting to showcase what they do in YMCA. After, we developed a letter that is to be sent home, for our new Social Studies unit. We developed the entire project, based around the idea of artifacts, and sharing stories that help shape Canadian identity.

    Ms Lunnin and Ms Polok

  5. The Grade 4 Teamsters says:

    The grade 4 team had a busy day. We met with Kendra (speech) about cross curricular ideas for our nonreaders and will make use of the visual/symbolic system she provided. Richard then joined us and we mapped out all of the mini lessons for the “Waste in Our World” unit in Science. We also planned the end “real learning” project for them to showcase their learning. In Social Studies and Structure and Style we discussed strategies for the different levels of learners that we have in our class. We reached a decision and made further plans about where we want the students to be before Christmas break with the compilation of their hard work.

  6. Heather says:

    Kindergaten is celebrating the fact that our Literacy Backpacks are now up and running. We spent the afternoon doing a final work-bee to get them all ready. They kids will take home their first backpack on Friday! So nice when things come together!

  7. Grade Two Team says:

    The grade two team met with Janet from Albert Health Service to discuss the Fun Friends program. We examined the teacher guide and some resources that connect to the program. We investigated vocabulary terms for students to learn to assist them in articulating their feelings and enable them to be positive participants in the fun friends program. We examined the student guide to determine how to scaffold and modify the different activities students will be working through. We also created a unit plan and started to look at how we will start the program and introductory lessons.

  8. Mike says:

    Sometimes you just need to sit down and figure stuff out. I’m working on the new image for the iPads, so I took myself out for lunch, sat down, and went to work! The remainder of the time was focused on debriefing students, planning schedules, and try, try, trying to resolve the multiplicity technology-related issues!

    I also created a video tutorial video for the site around using the green screen, supported another school (Cappy Smart) in using their green screen, and digitally archived some of our work.

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