School Name: Willway Elementary
School District: SD#62 Sooke
Inquiry Team Members: Jane Henson firstname.lastname@example.org, Kendra Laidlaw email@example.com, Heather Kyle firstname.lastname@example.org, Jessica Sketchley email@example.com, Shaye Sanford firstname.lastname@example.org, Shannon Hovelkamp email@example.com, Cameron Tarr firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrea Battistoni email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3)
Curricular Area(s): Other: Self-regulation
Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Differentiated instruction, Flexible learning, Growth mindset, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? We worked on changing our classroom spaces to reduce environmental stressors for our students and to help them be calm, alert and ready to learn.
Scanning: We noticed that a lot of our students were roaming the halls rather than being in their classrooms. Many of these students were new to our school. The third principle of learning (OECD, 2009, p.6) establishes that emotions are integral to learning and highlights the importance of educators being in tune with their learners. We asked our students if they could name 2 adults at the school who believe they will be a success in life. 10 of 100 students said no. We wondered if students would be more successful in our classroom spaces if we worked to recognize their emotional needs. As a group we wanted to leap into action. Instead, we made sure we were mindful of the spiral of inquiry and the stages. We reminded ourselves of the First Peoples Principle of Learning: Learning takes patience and time.
Focus: As we focused, we had many meaningful conversations about what we could do as a team to make a difference. Many ideas seemed too broad or out of our control (home environment, trauma etc.) We decided to look at our classroom spaces as “the third teacher.”
Hunch: We developed a hunch: If we changed our classroom spaces and reduced the stressors (bright colours, lighting, clutter etc.) for our students to promote self-regulation, our classrooms and students would be calmer.
New Professional Learning: Our group read 2 books: Self-reg by Dr. Stuart Shanker and Lost at School by Dr. Ross Greene. We shared our learning and discussed the implications of this learning with one another. We learned about recognizing the difference between mis-behaviour and stress-behaviour. A child who is misbehaving is aware of what she is doing and chooses not to act differently (Shanker, 2019). A child whose behaviour can be attributed to stress behaviour is not aware of what she is doing or why, and is limited in her ability to act differently or understand what is being said (Shanker, 2019). If educators are able to see that “a child’s troubling behaviors are caused by too much stress, [the] whole relationship is transformed” (Sanker, 2017). This requires teaching professionals to learn how to detect stress behaviour and determine why this behaviour is occurring (Shanker, 2019).
Taking Action: Our team created a classroom environment checklist to help us notice the things in our classroom spaces that were not necessary and over stimulating. We then did a walk-about through each other’s classrooms and provided each other with feedback. We began the process of changing out bright bulletin board paper, hung fabric sails over harsh ceiling lights and reduced clutter. This process continues, and our spaces feel so much better!
Checking: We are so pleased with the changes we have made. Our students feel more comfortable in our learning spaces. Some observed that the classroom feels “more like home”. Staff have felt the impact of the transformation as well, noting that they feel more calm, alert and ready to teach in their classrooms. Students are roaming the halls less and can name adults at the school who they think believe they will be a success in life.
Reflections/Advice: The environments we transformed for our students supported our own self-regulation. We became more and more calm, alert and ready to teach as we made adjustments to our learning environments. Not only were our students well equipped for learning, the educators were prepared to support them as a result of this process. We are now curious about how behaviour management can be reduced or potentially avoided through effective implementation and teaching of self-regulation in the classroom.