Creating a Peaceful Place: Increasing Self-Regulation Across the School Day
Teacher, Mary Lyon K-8
On these desks, I have drawing materials and multiple types of paper for students to express their feelings. I have play-doh and thinking putty to support students who may need to manage angry feelings. I also have stuffed animals that serve as “breathing buddies” for students who may need to work through feelings of anxiety or upset. Further, I have a small collection of literature focused on social skills and feelings management.
With this project I want to expand, strengthen and develop my “peaceful place.” I want to research more tools and strategies that I can acquire and apply to support students in their emotional regulation skills. I want to increase the amount of calming materials available to students to de-escalate disruptive situations. I also want to build a collection of quality children”s literature to model feelings management and social skill acquisition. Overall, I want to expand and strengthen my “peaceful place” to make it the most effective and productive pace possible for my first grade students.
BLOG POST #1
By Amanda Minerva
My school is full inclusion, including students with social-emotional and behavioral disabilities. Throughout the school day, I work to manage the academic and social/emotional progress of each of my first grade students.
During the last school year, BPS offered a Social-Emotional Learning PD through Lesley College. During this PD, we focused on the many pieces of social-emotional development including feelings identification and management, mindfulness and balancing emotional development with academic development throughout the school day.
One of the many examples of supporting students emotional development was establishing a quiet space in the classroom equipped with sensory, calming tools for all students to use. Based on the ideas I learned from these examples and the presentations at this PD by Lesley College, I created a “Peaceful Place” in my classroom.
My goal in creating this Peaceful Place is to offer students a quiet space in the classroom where they can re-focus, re-organize, calm their bodies and rejoin the group productively. In addition to making academic progress, I want my students to make progress in their self-regulation skills. My goal is for my first grade students to become aware of their behavior and emotional state throughout the day.
I began to build my Peaceful Place on the first day of the school year. I created a space on one side of my classroom comprised of a bulletin board, 2 desks and 2 chairs. I created a new job on my class job chart: A Peaceful Place Helper. This student is responsible for organizing the Peaceful Place materials: stuffed animals, thinking putty, play-doh, a Find It, peaceful sticks, drawing materials, and literature focused on feelings. On either side of our peaceful place you can find a rocking chair and beanbag.
I spent the first few weeks of school explaining the purpose and function of the Peaceful Place. We define our space as a quiet space anyone can visit if they feel upset, angry, frustrated, overly excited, tired or just distracted. We also created structures and rules for this Peaceful Place where each student is able to individually self-regulate. Within this space students consistently use peaceful voices and bodies as well as productive work and feelings management.
As students visited the Peaceful Place we came to define the purpose and function of the materials available. We use the stuffed animals as “breathing buddies.” When feeling anxious, upset, angry, frustrated or sad, students may hug one of our “breathing buddies” tightly and take deep breaths together. One student, upset over a disagreement with a friend, visited the Peaceful Place while crying. She started hugging one of the “breathing buddies” and taking deep breaths. After a few minutes, she was able to calmly process the incident with the teacher and the student involved. Once this was resolved, she quickly rejoined the group lesson.
When feeling distracted or unfocused, students may squeeze, pull, push and manipulate the squishy balls, “find-it” or beanbags to re-focus and re-organize our thoughts. One student distracted throughout a math lesson, found he could not focus to complete his math work. He visited the Peaceful Place and began squeezing the squishy balls and beanbags to refocus himself and eventually return to his individual math work.
The “peaceful sticks” and “find-it” are two tools that I have seen students who are both distracted and/or angry use. One student who had difficulty identifying why he was demonstrating disruptive behaviors as well as ending his disruptive behaviors, found it easier to calm himself when watching the peaceful stick. Tipping the stick back and forth, provided a calming feeling for this student and he was able to verbalize the cause of his emotions while watching the colored sand and water go back and forth.
When having difficulty verbalizing their feelings or problem-solving strategies, drawing materials are available to support students” expression. One student, angry and upset after a disruptive bus ride had difficulty transitioning to the classroom and did not want to explain his behavior to teachers. When directed to the Peaceful Place and given drawing materials, the student was able to draw the situation that had occurred and then verbalize the progression of the situation using his picture as a support.
Finally, if feeling tired, unwell or overall not ready to engage with the group, students may choose to rock in our rocking chair or sit in the beanbag chair and read books focused on many different feelings. One student feeling overall dysregulated, visited the Peaceful Place and quickly say down in the rocking chair. As she was rocking, she reached into the feelings book bin. She began reading the book Grumpy Bird. After a few minutes of rocking and reading, she returned to her small group lesson and reported “sorry I was just feeling grumpy like grumpy bird.”
As I move forward with this project, I plan to increase my Peaceful Place to include additional materials to support my students in their self-regulation skill development. My goal is to create the most effective and efficient space for my students to encourage their academic and social-emotional development.
I hope to have more of my students write me notes such as this”¦..