Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear, & Sadness: How to Teach Self-Regulation

Saturday, January 14, 2017

My first year teaching I took my students on a field trip to the zoo. We spent weeks preparing for the trip. Each student picked an animal and researched that animal within their limitations. We also watched videos from our local zoo and completed several social stories on going on field trips, and visiting the zoo.

We took our trip and made it about 3/4ths of our time there, when in the gorilla section of the zoo, one of my students got overstimulated, and tried to bite another student, myself, and one of my paraprofessionals.

I took all the time preparing my students for the trip, but I forgot to continue my focus on self-regulation. We’d talked about what self-regulation looks like at home and at school, but never on a trip, or outside those specific places.

Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and control our own behavior, emotions, or thoughts and change them to the demands of the situation including the environment.

This was such an eye opening experience for me. It really showed me just how important it is to teach those skills and be able to help students generalize it across situations. I’ve made a list of some ideas that you can use to help teach self-monitoring.

1.     Teach students to identify their different feelings. What does anger look like? What does surprise look like? I love to pair this activity with a mirror, so students can see their own faces and what they look like as they try to convey each emotion that you talk about with them.

2.     Watch the Movie Inside Out! – If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s about a young girl and all of her emotions as she transitions to life in a different city. There are tons of great concepts to pull from and teach.

3.     Create a Brain Board! Have students draw or use different colors of play dough to signify their emotions. Then have them sort through their thoughts and what parent of there feelings belong to which emotions.

4.     Get students thinking about their thinking! One of the teachers I currently work with did this fun activity with her students to get them to work on understanding that just because you THINK it doesn’t mean you need to SAY it!

Students wrote down several things they thought on small pieces of paper. Then they drew a picture of themselves, attached an envelope with things they need to keep in their head, and cut a whole for their mouths, and attached a clear plastic bag. The “good” things they could put into their “mouths” because those things were safe to say. The students loved this activity and still talk about it 4 months later

5.     Break out the board game! – Lots of simple board games are great for working on self-regulation. Waiting, taking turns, being fair, being a good sport.

6.     Break out the Heavy Hitter!

I’ve found a wonderful curriculum over the years for working on self-regulation. Zones Of Regulation works wonders in the classroom. It does this by helping to make some of the emotions in our lives a bit more concrete. You can check it out here.

I plan to write a few more blog posts about how we use it in the classroom, but that will have to wait for another time! I’ve got IEP’s to review!

Christmas IEP's for SPED Teachers?!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

As special education teachers we live and breathe IEP’s. What areas of need does Johnny have? How can we help bridge that gap? What skills would be most beneficial for him to learn? Then we collect our data, Every. Single. Day.

In the spirit of Christmas and IEP’s I thought I would mix the two and have a little fun with it!

I present to you- Every Special Ed Teacher’s IEP goals for the Christmas Break.
1. When given a time of quiet, the SPED teacher will rest and relax with 100% accuracy, in 5 out of 5 trials, by the end of this winter break as measured by Checklists.

2.When given the need to go to the bathroom, the SPED teacher will NOT hold it for 5 more hours until he/she has the time to actually go and students are no longer at school, with 100% accuracy, in 5 out of 5 trials, by the end of this winter break as measured by Checklists.

                 At the end of the day, and you race the teacher across the hall to the staff bathroom.... 

        3. When given the opportunity to hang out with friends or family, the SPED teacher will happily join them and NOT worry about all the lesson plans, IEP’s, data analysis, paper grading, and progress reporting he/she needs to do with 100% accuracy, in 5 out of 5 trials, by the end of this winter break as measured by Checklists.

        Don't let this be you. 

      4.When given a choice of a Christmas movie, the sped teacher will pick out whatever they want to watch (Elf, Christmas Vacation, Bad Santa, A Christmas Story, Home Alone) and NOT worry about what learning objectives they need to make sure they cover so they can actually watch it, with 100% accuracy, in 5 out of 5 trials, by the end of this winter break as measured by Checklists.

  Why? Because you can. 

]   5. When given the option, the SPED teacher can indulge in a manicure or football game and not worry about school, with 100% accuracy, in 5 out of 5 trials, by the end of this winter break as measured by Checklists.

      Let THIS be YOU! 


    6. When asked what they want for Christmas, the SPED teacher will give an answer of something other than KNEX, Velcro, Storage Bins, or Legos with 100% accuracy, in 5 out of 5 trials, by the end of this winter break as measured by Checklists.

I'll be honest, while that is ridiculously cool, I am guessing no matter how awesome your lego building skills are, you won't be able to make a lego Ryan Reynolds. ;) 

Are you going to work on your Christmas IEP goals over the Christmas Break?  I've made you a data sheet so you can keep track of your progress! ;)

I hope you had some fun with this silly little post. I hope it made you chuckle, and I hope you do enjoy your break! All teachers need a break some times.

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