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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

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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





Friday, July 7, 2017

Conflict Resolution Skills

Conflict is inevitable.  It surrounds every profession, household and relationship.  Since conflict is so prevalent what is the appropriate way to solve those conflicts when they arise, especially in an environment where people are working with children.  Have we as teacher, educators, child care workers, after school workers been trained adequately for the conflict that arises in our workplace.  What if this conflict happens with peers that we have to engage with everyday.  Ester Efemini believes we should be looking to the business world for their solutions to solving conflicts and problems.  She states that business manager who have had formal training in conflict resolution decrease the number of misunderstandings between employees within their office.

Can Educators benefit from formal training when it comes to conflict resolution and communication skills?  Definitely it is something that needs to be explored as many teachers leave the profession due to dissatisfaction with administration and leadership as well as management within the classroom.

I have included the article by Ester Efemini to have a peek at:  See what you think!


Conflict resolution skills: Rethinking teacher training pt1



Written by Esther Efemini on 7 July 2017 in Features
There's a teacher crisis going on, and we should look to business conflict management, says Esther Efemini.
All young people are capable. To help them make the most of their talents, it is important to have many means of recognising and celebrating their strengths ( SGI USA 2015 pg )
Conflict definition
Conflict is inevitable and part of life. Tschannen-Moran (2001) describes conflict as a form of discord, disagreement occurring between individuals or a group of individuals. Our behaviour, our responses and our communications ascertain whether the conflict remains constructive or destructive.
Cost of conflict
The Centre of Dispute Resolution reports that 1/3 of managers would prefer to do a parachute jump out of a plane than have a difficult conversation. The CIPD report 370m working days are lost each year as a result of conflict (OPP 2008). 
Absenteeism and turnover is also a conflict related cost. Twenty seven percent of employees have observed conflicts lead to personal attacks (Short, 2016). CEDR state that conflict management training prevents £600,000 in legal costs, three years salary and 1000 hours of management time. The CBI estimates that conflict costs UK business £33bn a year (TCM, 2017).
Of those companies who have had conflict resolution training or had used mediation 41% reported that the training resulted in a better understanding of people
Conflict and culture
85% of employees are dealing with conflict at some level (Liddle, 2016). Management spend 64% of their time managing conflict disputes every month (TCM,2017). Research on Workplace Conflict highlighted 53% of organisations identified themselves has being reactive towards managing conflict. 
David Liddle, a leading expert on resolution skills management, states that conflict avoidance is the most commonly used strategy of conflict management in organisations. These organisations were more likely to experience a reduction in employment engagement. Senior managers report over 1/5 disagreements are a result of a communication breakdown (TCM, 2017).
By 2020, more than half a million UK workers will be significantly held back by a lack of soft skills, an issue guaranteed to affect all sectors. At the same time, soft skills contribute £88bn to the UK economy, with this contribution forecast to increase to £109bn during the next five years.
97% of UK employers believe soft skills are important to their current business success, and more than half say communication skills and team work are more important than traditional academic results. However, three- quarters believe there is already a soft skills gap in the UK work force (TCM 2017).
An OPP, 2008 report examined training by country and found that in the UK found 14% of managers had conflict management as part of their leadership training. Only 12% of managers took conflict management training as a part of a formal course. 
Of those companies who have had conflict resolution training or had used mediation 41% reported that the training resulted in a better understanding of people and 33% stated that they had experienced an improvement in their working relationships.
Behaviour management
The convolution of conflict has resulted in various definitions constructed by people’s perceptions and attitudes. Conflict in schools takes on a different construct and culture of resolving conflict can vary from school to school.
School conflicts range from lack of resources, unresolved complaints, and head teachers may employ an authoritarian approach (Goksoy and Turkiye 2016). Teachers are constantly under pressure due to demanding workloads and pressurised environments (Espinoza, 2015). Poorly managed conflict can also prevent the school from achieving its objectives (Shahmohammadi, 2014).
Goksoy and Turkiye's (2016) research on teachers' perceptions of conflicts, reasons behind them; their impact and responses to conflict found that teachers who experience conflicts have negative feelings such as disappointment, stress, uneasiness and may dislike the profession and have low motivation and morale
In recent years challenging behaviour has escalated in the classroom and has been a cause of concern. A report by Ofsted, 'below the radar: low-level disruption', reported that 38 days of teaching time is lost due to indiscipline (Paton, 2014). Secondary schools are seen to have more problems with poor behaviour, increasing from 21% to 28% since 2012 (Paton, 2014).
A survey conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers reported that 62% of staff cited that there are now more children with behavioural, emotional and mental health problems.(Townsend, 2013). 42% of teachers stated that they suffered stress and almost a quarter said they had lost confidence at work (Townsend,2013).
The teaching crisis has deepened with nearly one in ten teachers leaving the teaching profession last year; the highest proportion in the last ten years (Scott, 2016). It is reported that a third of teachers will leave the profession within three years (Scott, 2016).
A report, 'Why Teach' (2015) conducted by LKMco and Pearson, cites 76% of teachers reporting that increasing workloads are a key reason for leaving the teaching profession with 50% of teachers reporting they worked more than 55 hours per week (Adam, 2017).
Followed by being unhappy with the quality of leadership and management, 27% of teachers reported that they had left the teaching profession due to disruptive or challenging behaviour (Short,2010).
Part two will be published next week. You can find references for this feature here

About the author
Esther graduated from Middlesex University with a degree in psychology and criminology and went on to do a masters. More recently her interests lie in Conflict Management Skills for trainee teachers. Esther is a trained Community Mediator.

Breaking News - Free Workshop in Anti-Bias Education and Strategies for Sensitive Issues

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Proactive Strategies for Children with Challenging Behaviour

Save Your Sanity has now gone ONLINE with our Proactive Strategies Seminar:  Learning from the comfort of your own home especially during the summer.  We are offering a discount for a limited time only. Register at the website and we will forward you the discount.. www.saveyoursanity.online
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Bullying: Making School a Safe Place to Learn

                                                         FREE RESOURCES A number of children and families are being affected by bullying...