Sunday, August 13, 2017

Flexible Classrooms

Setting up our classroom is so important to help engage our students, decrease impulsive behaviour, encourage growth and ensuring a secure safe environment for everyone.  I love seeing all the different ways teachers utilize the space in the classroom to make it the best learning environment for the students.  7 Teachers have been featured in Edutopia's latest article.  It is totally worth a peek.


https://www.edutopia.org/article/7-outstanding-k-8-flexible-classrooms

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Calm Box to Help with Stress

Having a calm box in your house or classroom can alleviate some very stressful moments when a child may be experiencing an anxious event or leading up to an an anxious event.  Here are some ideas for what you can put in that box again depending on the needs of your child.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Stress Reduction Exercises to Do Anywhere



Teachers or caregivers may find themselves under a great deal of stress these days.  Don't let stress take you out of the game. You are the only one that can do anything about the level of stress you are under or the reaction to the events in your life.  Learning specific techniques will be helpful to help calm you when things get a bit our of hand.  You can take control of your own emotions and reactions.


Stress Reduction Exercises To Do Anywhere - Karen Molli

Self-Talk Exercise:

Practice positive self-talk to reduce stress.  For example, instead of saying to yourself:  “I’ll never get this project in on time!”  Try saying: “If I calm down, stay focused and take one step at a time, I’ll make steady progress and there’s a good chance I’ll meet my deadline.”

Think of other good examples of re-framing a negative to a positive self-talk message when you find yourself being self-critical, self-defeating or negative.

Negative:                                                                                                                                

Positive:                                                                                                                                 


Negative:                                                                                                                                

Positive:                                                                                                                                 


Deep Breathing Exercise:

  • Sit comfortably, placing one hand on your abdomen.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, drawing air into your abdomen.  You will notice the hand on your abdomen rising.
  • When you’ve inhaled as much as possible, hold your breath for a few seconds.
  • Exhale very slowly through your mouth, pursing your lips as if you were going to whistle or as if you were blowing through a straw.
  • As you exhale, try to control how fast you exhale, keep your airways open as long as possible.
  • When your lungs feel empty, begin the cycle again.
  • Repeat the cycle 3-4 times.


Clearing Your Mind Exercise: (Meditation)

  • Sit comfortably in a quiet environment (place phone on do not disturb or sign on door)
  • Put both feet on the floor.
  • Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply.
  • Mentally focus on one (and only one) peaceful word, like om, calm, one etc.  Repeat the word without a break so that outside thoughts are hard to enter your mind.
  • If other thoughts enter your mind, gently push them away and continue with the repetition. (don’t become discouraged when your mind wonders, just re focus)
  • Try to remain as still as possible during meditation.  If you feel the need to itch, try to ignoring the need and focus on the word.
  • Continue for a few minutes.  It may be 2-3 minutes at first keep building a couple of minutes at a time, until you get to 15-20 minutes.



Stretching Exercises:

  • Shoulder shrug—Draw a big circle with your shoulders by slowly rolling your shoulders up toward your ears, back, downward, and forward.  Repeat 5 times then reverse the direction.
  • Half circle neck roll—With your back straight and shoulders relaxed, look down, then roll gently to the left and gently to the right.  Repeat 2-3 times.
  • Shoulder and arm stretch—Hold your hands together with fingers interlaced.  Stretch them overhead with palms upward.  Hold for 30 seconds, relax and repeat 5 times.


Autogenics Exercise:  (progressive relaxation)

This is a progressive muscle relaxation exercise.  You begin by concentrating on a mental suggestion such as, “My left arm feels warm and heavy.”  As you concentrate on this “self command,” try to actually feel your arm getting warmer and heavier.  Then repeat the same command, but focus it on your right arm, then left leg, right leg, and so on.  Go over all of your muscle groups for the best result.

  • Sit comfortably or lie down in a quiet location.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Take a few deep, slow breathes.
  • Try to clear your mind.
  • You may want to start off with a peaceful suggestion for yourself, such as, “I feel calm and my mind is at rest.”
  • Mentally focus on one muscle group of your body and give your command.  You can begin at the top of your head and move towards your feet.
  • “Try the same command, focusing on another part of your body.
  • Continue until you feel completely relaxed.
  • Allow yourself to enjoy this relaxed state for a few minutes.
  • When you are ready—breathe deeply, open your eyes and stretch!

Another one is:

  • Sit comfortable in a chair
  • Take a few deep breaths
  • With your arm bent at the elbow, make a hard fist with both hands and bend wrist so that the muscles of your arms are tense.  Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly let the tension out.
  • Notice the contrast of when it was tense and now relaxed.
  • Now tense your calf and thigh muscles (straighten out your leg hard while pointing your toes downwards.  Hold for 5 seconds then slowly release letting the tension out.
  • Repeat the steps above for your neck and jaw, forehead and scalp, abdominal and back muscles.


Self-Talk Exercise:

Practice positive self-talk to reduce stress.  For example, instead of saying to yourself:  “I’ll never get this project in on time!”  Try saying: “If I calm down, stay focused and take one step at a time, I’ll make steady progress and there’s a good chance I’ll meet my deadline.”

Think of other good examples of re-framing a negative to a positive self-talk message when you find yourself being self-critical, self-defeating or negative.

Negative:                                                                                                                                

Positive:                                                                                                                                 


Negative:                                                                                                                                

Positive:                                                                                                                                 


Deep Breathing Exercise:

  • Sit comfortably, placing one hand on your abdomen.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, drawing air into your abdomen.  You will notice the hand on your abdomen rising.
  • When you’ve inhaled as much as possible, hold your breath for a few seconds.
  • Exhale very slowly through your mouth, pursing your lips as if you were going to whistle or as if you were blowing through a straw.
  • As you exhale, try to control how fast you exhale, keep your airways open as long as possible.
  • When your lungs feel empty, begin the cycle again.
  • Repeat the cycle 3-4 times.


Clearing Your Mind Exercise: (Meditation)

  • Sit comfortably in a quiet environment (place phone on do not disturb or sign on door)
  • Put both feet on the floor.
  • Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply.
  • Mentally focus on one (and only one) peaceful word, like om, calm, one etc.  Repeat the word without a break so that outside thoughts are hard to enter your mind.
  • If other thoughts enter your mind, gently push them away and continue with the repetition. (don’t become discouraged when your mind wonders, just re focus)
  • Try to remain as still as possible during meditation.  If you feel the need to itch, try to ignoring the need and focus on the word.
  • Continue for a few minutes.  It may be 2-3 minutes at first keep building a couple of minutes at a time, until you get to 15-20 minutes.


Stretching Exercises:

  • Shoulder shrug—Draw a big circle with your shoulders by slowly rolling your shoulders up toward your ears, back, downward, and forward.  Repeat 5 times then reverse the direction.
  • Half circle neck roll—With your back straight and shoulders relaxed, look down, then roll gently to the left and gently to the right.  Repeat 2-3 times.
  • Shoulder and arm stretch—Hold your hands together with fingers interlaced.  Stretch them overhead with palms upward.  Hold for 30 seconds, relax and repeat 5 times.


Autogenics Exercise:  (progressive relaxation)

This is a progressive muscle relaxation exercise.  You begin by concentrating on a mental suggestion such as, “My left arm feels warm and heavy.”  As you concentrate on this “self command,” try to actually feel your arm getting warmer and heavier.  Then repeat the same command, but focus it on your right arm, then left leg, right leg, and so on.  Go over all of your muscle groups for the best result.

  • Sit comfortably or lie down in a quiet location.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Take a few deep, slow breathes.
  • Try to clear your mind.
  • You may want to start off with a peaceful suggestion for yourself, such as, “I feel calm and my mind is at rest.”
  • Mentally focus on one muscle group of your body and give your command.  You can begin at the top of your head and move towards your feet.
  • “Try the same command, focusing on another part of your body.
  • Continue until you feel completely relaxed.
  • Allow yourself to enjoy this relaxed state for a few minutes.
  • When you are ready—breathe deeply, open your eyes and stretch!

Another one is:

  • Sit comfortable in a chair
  • Take a few deep breaths
  • With your arm bent at the elbow, make a hard fist with both hands and bend wrist so that the muscles of your arms are tense.  Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly let the tension out.
  • Notice the contrast of when it was tense and now relaxed.
  • Now tense your calf and thigh muscles (straighten out your leg hard while pointing your toes downwards.  Hold for 5 seconds then slowly release letting the tension out.
  • Repeat the steps above for your neck and jaw, forehead and scalp, abdominal and back muscles.








Thursday, July 27, 2017

Schools in Action: Physical Literacy to Encourage Learning

Physical Education and Movement is truly a passion for me.  I think it is imperative that children are involved in daily physical education and movement throughout the school day.  It is even more important today when children have become so attached to devices where they can spend hours on it without moving anything but their fingers.  This creates a generation of children who have trouble communicating,  are obese, lethargic, susceptible to lifestyle disease, and unhealthy.  Is this what we want for our children??


We need to take action as a society to say that no this is not what we want for our children.  We want well rounded children interested in taking care of their own health and who won't rely on taking pills to alleviate a problem that they have created because of the health choices they have made.

The Government of British Columbia have published a book called "Physical Activity Action Resource".. It is actually very good and contains many great ideas and games.  It is a valuable free resource that both parents and teachers can access.

Schools in Action is a program promoting healthy living and here are some of the ways that children have begun to implement this program:

1.  POWER UP MORNINGS:  School wide morning events.  Staff and students fill the gym or listen to instructions and music over the intercom for a morning of physical activity derived from the Physical Activity Resource and Action Bin.  These activities could include:  yoga, head to toe stretch, dance or workout from Fit Kids Workout DVD.  These activities can be led by students or staff once or twice a week.

2.  LEADERS ROCK:  The leaders in higher grades lead the younger grades through various physical activities that include primary games, outdoor games, and strength and conditioning exercises.  (Get Strong DVD).  The leaders take responsibility for the scheduling of the activities and learn a variety of leadership skills.

3.  MOVE YOUR BODY ROOM:  Teachers converted two rooms into multi-purpose rooms and circuits for kids.  The rooms were designed with several stations including juggling, hopscotch, yoga and balance beams.  Get Strong 101 DVD as well as Kids into Action DVD helped the teachers with the setup and activities.

4.  BRAIN BUILDER ACTION BREAKS:  Teachers integrate action breaks throughout the day to stimulate the brain when transitioning between subjects.  Activities include brain energizers, juggling, skipping, Bean Bag Boogie, BrainDance, Tai Chi and stretching.

Physical activity should not be negotiable in schools.  It is a requirement and is just as important as the academic subjects especially for those children experiencing difficulties in the classroom.

www.actionschoolsbc.ca

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Restorative Justice Practices

How are we doing???  Can we as educators say that we are decreasing the inappropriate behaviour in classrooms and schools and increasing academic and social outcomes for our students?

These can be difficult questions to answer especially when we are so entangled in maybe the chaos that might be occurring within the school or the entire system.  Looking at new ways of helping children reach their potential is imperative if we are to move forward with an educational model that is sustainable and exceptional.  Behaviour difficulties in the classroom seems to be a prevalent topic within this discussion and probably one of the major factors in the chaos schools are experiencing as well as the classrooms.  What kind of approach is your school adopting when it comes to disruptive or inappropriate behaviour?

Restorative Justice Practices have been implemented in many schools across the country and across the world.  Many innovative educators have looked at the number of suspensions and behaviour related referrals and have decided that school is not "jail" and that a punitive approach is just not working anymore.  They have decided to use restorative methods to engage children in the effects of their behaviour on others and have input into the consequences and outcomes.

The issue with punitive methods is that it does not necessarily address the root cause of the behaviour and the intention is to punish the student so they will stop the behaviour.  What if they have difficulty processing the outcome because of a neurophysiological disability.  In my experience the restorative discussion has way more impact on the student then sending them to detention to "think about" what they have done.  The conferencing circle allows all parties to communicate their feelings and attitudes towards the event and what can be done in the future.  It helps the person "in trouble" to understand the impact of their behaviour and commit to a plan to repair the damaged relationships.

Children make mistakes and learn to either continue or discontinue the behaviour depending upon the consequence following the event.  If we are to help children unravel the complexities of social relationships we have to teach them how to do that.  There are a number of social emotional skills required along this journey to make life a little easier when navigating a challenge.  Some children don't always know "what" to do so we as educators and parents need to be there to redirect them so that they feel good about the decisions they ultimately make.

Schools are meant to provide safe, supportive environments where children can learn and thrive.  When the policies implemented do not follow this philosophy, children are confused and eventually inappropriate behaviour increases because they do not feel protected or safe.  We need to nurture relationships that enhance a child's love of learning and teach them that school is a safe place to express themselves.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Professional Development Online: Proactive Strategies for Children with Challenging Behaviour and Conflict Resolution

Professional Development from the comfort of your own home. Put your feet up and enjoy "Save Your Sanity: Proactive Strategies for Children with Challenging Behaviour". NO planning for subs, booking accommodation or spending extra money. Videos to support the content and tons of resources. Have a look!! www.saveyoursanity.ca

As well a FREE seminar on Strategies for Sensitive Issues and resources!!


video





Sunday, July 9, 2017

You Are The Most Powerful Strategy in Your Toolkit




You are the most powerful strategy in your toolkit to build relationships and rapport with the children/adults you work with.  What are the strategies that you can implement to have better more quality relationships with those who may not be willing to engage with you or need sometime to trust you.  Have a listen to our podcast at:  www.saveyoursanity.online/podcasts





Flexible Classrooms

Setting up our classroom is so important to help engage our students, decrease impulsive behaviour, encourage growth and ensuring a secure s...