While most of my professional blogging happens here, I also enjoy sharing monthly blog posts on The MEHRIT Centre’s blog. Back in March, I was inspired to blog there after an experience in our music class. I have music as one of my prep periods, but due to a lack of additional rooms, the music teacher comes into the classroom to run her program. Music happens at the end of the day twice a week, and I usually use this time to sit over at the eating table and upload documentation. On this particular day, I noticed three children that chose to remove themselves from the program. Music is usually quite loud and exciting, and while the students love the regular songs and dances, sometimes it’s too much for a few of them. Sitting out, watching, listening, quietly clapping along, and even reading and writing instead, seemed to be calming options for these children. While I loved, and appreciated, that our music teacher realized what these students needed and respected their decisions, I wondered if not complying would always be seen as a self-regulated choice. There is quite a discussion in the comments on this blog post, and it’s one of these very comments that inspired my post today.
Cheryl, the commenter, shared a concern that I think is quite a common one.
Both Stephanie and I replied, explaining how these kinds of choices at such a young age may not necessarily impact on adulthood.
While I stand by what I shared here, an experience from the other day has me wondering if there’s even more to add to this discussion. On Thursday, we had the opportunity to have Groove EDGEucation come and visit our school. While Groove worked with classes all day long, after school, the dance instructor worked with the staff. We all got to “groove,” just as the kids did. I’m not going to lie: this was a very dysregulating experience for me. Even though I said aloud the comment that everyone else made, “I can’t get it wrong,” I still felt as though I could get it wrong. I’m not a confident dancer.
- I find it a challenge to keep with the beat.
- I was afraid that I wouldn’t know all of the moves.
- I worry about everyone looking at me.
- And the stress is just compounded by being so close to everyone else.
In the classroom, with kids, I can happily dance and have fun with music, but it’s different in a room full of colleagues. I tried though.
- I kept near the back of the room.
- I stayed near my teaching partner, Paula, who knew that this was a challenge for me and was incredibly supportive. Talk about an awesome co-regulator!
- I made some jokes and shared some laughs. This always makes me feel better.
- And I tried to give myself a little space … I think this helped me breathe!
But then we got to the part of the dance where we have to “swing our partners.” Ahh!! First of all, the directional component to this worries me. This is something that I really could “get wrong!” Then there’s the fact that swinging around in circles makes me feel dizzy. I worked at it. I swung around with two partners … and didn’t hit anybody or anything. Then though, I moved to the sidelines.
- I took a drink of water.
- I watched from the corner.
- I still shared a few laughs with friends.
Like the kids in our class though, I opted out, and just like them, this was the self-regulated choice for me. As adults, we actually opt out all the time.
- We send text messages and emails in meetings.
- We step out of the room to make phone calls.
- We sit in the lunch room, but read a device, write a note, or even look at a book.
This opting out may not look the same as it did in our Kindergarten class, but it’s still a way of self-regulating, giving ourselves a break, and doing what we really do need to do for us. Now some may argue that these are “rude choices,” and maybe at times, they are. But is this something that we also might need to re-frame? For when many of us choose to make these decisions, we do so — whether intentionally or not — to find the calm that we need to tackle our next big challenge or to exist happily within the space where we’re at.
I’d like to think that I’m a “functional adult” because of some of these very choices, and on Thursday, I think a bit of my own opting out was exactly what I needed to do. What about you? Even as this fabulous TEDx Talk implies, the look of self-regulation may vary as we grow up. Maybe not complying is still a good option at times, but just in a different way than our four- and five-year-olds chose to do so. Are there times when, even as an adult, you also choose “not to comply” for the sake of Self-Reg? I guess the troublemaker in me continues to exist.