Teachers aren’t superheroes. Some days, it might seem as though we are, or we may wish that we had super powers. I’d love a super power that made tidying up happen with the snap of a finger and noise levels to quickly readjust with just the clap of a hand 🙂 , but I haven’t quite made either of these things happen yet. On most days, I’m good with not having any super powers. I can adjust to the varying volumes and problems that might happen during the day, and can find different places to sit, engage, and listen in on conversations with kids. Thursday wasn’t one of those days.
Even the make-up of the day wasn’t ideal. It was the last day of school before a four-day weekend. While we haven’t been discussing Easter in the classroom, and kids have just made a few off-hand comments about it, many of them have been all about Easter in the Before Care Program. They’ve been making Easter crafts, hiding Easter eggs, and decorating Easter bunnies. The excitement is definitely palpable in the Before Care Program, and this excitement tends to spill over into the classroom program. Just to make Easter a little more exciting, our school had Wacky Hair Day on Thursday. We were collecting donations for Interval House, and coupled this with an exciting day at school. While not everyone in our class participated, a little extra crazy definitely brought up the volume and changed the feel of the room.
#WackyHairDay @Rousseau_HWDSB #grade6salon #schoolspirit #studentcouncil #lovemykids pic.twitter.com/4xpOurM0SD
— Michelle Fawcett OCT (@michellefawcett) March 29, 2018
I’d like to say that the dysregulation ended here, but it didn’t. When I got to school on Thursday morning, I received an email that I wasn’t expecting, and ended up with a problem that I had to solve. While everything worked out well, solving the problem took the better part of my before school time, where I would usually get things organized in the classroom. This meant that I was rushing to get everything finished before the bell rang, despite arriving at school with two-hours to spare. How does this happen?!
I was also very aware that this was my no prep, duty day, so I would be limited on extra time to get things done during the school day. I think this is when my headache started. The weather outside wasn’t helping my head, but the stress definitely made it worse. I’m also starting to come down with that cough and cold that everybody seems to have right now, and without a doubt, everything compounded and hit me all at once. I’m not sure that I realized the impact of this at the time, but I did a few hours later.
Our outdoor learning time actually went very well. My heart was exploding with the examples of empathy that Paula and I saw out in the forest. Our kids are truly remarkable! We also got to witness some incredible new friendships, and it was great to see the joy in this play. I think that I was almost convinced that today was turning around. Maybe we should have just stayed outside … 🙂
While it wasn’t quite raining outside, it was definitely cold and damp, and after almost 1 1/2 hours outside, I was certainly feeling the chill. (I might not have made the best clothing choices for the weather.) I made it inside in just enough time to head back outside for duty. This might have been too much. I couldn’t stop shaking I was so cold, and this is when the coughing started in earnest. I was definitely getting sick! Between the Wacky Hair Day and Easter, duty time was even louder than usual, and I was eager to get back to our classroom, which often feels quieter and calmer. Today it didn’t though.
Play was just starting, and it was Pizza Day, which means that most children wanted to eat right away. Our open eating table — with seats for six to eat throughout the day — usually helps quiet the room a bit and spread children out in different places around the room. Today though, there was a HUGE number of kids eagerly waiting to eat, and some more eating at the back table. This means that the play takes even longer to settle.
Sometimes I can help things out by sitting down at a space on the opposite side of the room, or beginning to play in an area that has fewer people, and quietly drawing more people my way. I wasn’t feeling it today though. I was having my own difficulties settling. Noise dysregulates me on most days, but when I’m not feeling well, it does so even more. I know this, but I was having problems addressing it. I tried sitting down at the creative table, with the hope that some sensory play might calm me (and the kids) for a bit, and it did, but maybe not for long enough. I should have gotten into the building space, where there seemed to be the most noise at the time, but I didn’t have it in me to quiet it. This is when I started to wander — sweeping the room — which might seem like a good idea in theory, but isn’t in practice. When I wander, kids wander. But I couldn’t settle, so neither could they. Once again, I’m reminder of Stuart Shanker‘s words about the impact that an adult has on a child’s ability to self-regulate.
A great quote from Dr. Stuart Shanker – making sure the adult takes care of themselves so they can take care of others pic.twitter.com/6cVeAOyf9v
— Nancy Smykaluk (@nansmy) December 6, 2017
This was an all-day struggle. I continued to feel yucky throughout the day, and my headache that went away in the morning, came back in the afternoon. This didn’t help. It was then time to get ready for home. We share a coat room with the Kindergarten class next door to us. Usually they get ready first and head outside, and then we go second. This gives both of us more room in this confined space. Due to the weather though, we were both getting ready at the same time. This meant more kids and more noise …
I finally thought of my teaching partner, Paula, and what she does to make dressing time a calmer experience: she sings. So I sang. Probably nobody would recognize the songs that I made up. I probably couldn’t even reproduce them again. But every time I felt triggered, I sang some more.
- I sang to look for splash pants.
- I sang to put on coats.
- I sang to collect lunch boxes.
- I even sang to go sit down.
I will never win a Grammy Award for my singing, but it was definitely singing that kept me regulated. Maybe I should have done some more singing throughout the day.
I would usually tell you that all of our days are “great,” and they really almost all are! And if you look at our story of Thursday on our class blog, there is a lot to celebrate about the day. But Thursday didn’t feel quite as wonderful to me, and maybe my own dysregulation is to blame. I definitely didn’t help turn things around. I’m sorry! I’m human. On Thursday, I definitely didn’t have the super powers I may have needed to make it through. But I did have a wonderful teaching partner that came back from her lunch with a lovely, calming peach tea for me, and ensured that I got out of the classroom for a good half-hour for my lunch. Both were what I needed. And while the noise still triggered me when I returned, at least I resisted the urge to wander. Instead, I chose to stand back and observe. I’m glad that I could see the good around the room.
Tuesday is another day. I’m using some great restorative ideas from here (maybe not the dancing 🙂 ) to take care of me this weekend, so that Tuesday starts and ends on a much better note.
After a busy week, many of us are hoping to restore energy over the long weekend! Here are some of our favourite #SelfReg ways to replenish our energy stores when we feel drained. What are yours?
Download a copy of this poster here: https://t.co/RNWXMXeryT pic.twitter.com/RsOhAQ0g8i
— The MEHRIT Centre (@Self_Reg) March 30, 2018
No matter how much we may know about Self-Reg, as children AND as adults, we’re all human. Mistakes happen. Life takes hold. Susan Hopkins often reminds us to be kind to ourselves. Thursday was not a total loss, but it wasn’t my best. Next week will be better. We can always change a trajectory. How do you help start fresh?