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Transforming Communities: A “Vision to Action” Self-Regulation Initiative. and Education Meet;. Supporting Safe and Caring Schools and Community Mental Health. Values/Beliefs and our Leadership Work. There are no throw-away kids and no throw-away schools

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Transforming Communities:

A “Vision to Action” Self-Regulation Initiative

and Education Meet;

Supporting Safe and Caring Schools

and Community Mental Health

Values/Beliefs and our Leadership Work

  • There are no throw-away kids and no throw-away schools

  • The overwhelming majority of the adults in our system come to work wanting to do the best job they can do

  • We need to work smarter together rather than harder alone

  • “Skill and Will” are not fixed assets. They can be influenced and increased by strategic action

  • Each school is in a different place in its development, level of success and sense of efficacy.

Leadership is about taking the school from where it is to where it needs to be.

Self Regulation: A Working Definition

“Different groups talk about the importance of the concept of self-regulationas it relates to their field. So we encounter everything from ‘emotion-regulation’ to ‘self-control’ to ‘self-regulated learning’.

But the underlying or core concept of self-regulation refers to “the manner in which the brain maintains physiological stability through complex feedback mechanisms.”

Dr. Stuart Shanker

What is self regulation
What is Self-Regulation?

  • How effectively and efficiently a child deals with a stressor and then recovers from the effort

  • Ever time a child has a stressor the brain responds with processes that consume energy

  • This is followed by restorative processes to recover from this energy expenditure

The difference between self control and self regulation
The Difference between Self-Control and Self-Regulation

  • Two distinct concepts, with different conceptual histories: self-control and self-regulation

  • Self-control: Plato’s view of resisting temptation

  • Develop self-control in the same way as any muscle

  • Child who lacks self-control is somehow weak

  • Self-regulation seeks to understand the causes of problematic behaviors, not suppress them!

Stress response systems
Stress-Response Systems

  • Three core systems for responding to stress:

    • Social Engagement

    • Fight-or-Flight

    • Freeze

      There is a fourth, very worrying stage, dissociation, which is a last-ditch mechanism for dealing with excessive stress

Self regulation and trauma
Self-Regulation and Trauma

  • Working on self-regulation is especially important for children that have been traumatized, or raised by caregivers that have been traumatized

  • Shift from the Learning Brain to the Survival Brain

  • Chronic state of fight-or-flight, freeze, or even dissociation

  • Chronic fight-or-flight is extremely energy expensive, reducing child’s ability to pay attention, inhibit impulses, regulate mood, co-regulate







Driving analogy
Driving Analogy

helpful for understanding the subtle adjustments in energy expenditure involved in regulating attention

  • To maintain a speed of 100 km/hr we are constantly pressing and easing up on the gas depending on the state of the road, incline, wind speed etc.

  • Learning how to drive involves learning how to smoothly adjust the amount of gas or braking required for the current conditions


  • Withdrawn from other students during parts or all of the day: during class, recess, lunch

  • Silliness, argumentative, difficulty with personal space

    • difficulty co-regulating

    • highly impulsive

    • poor assessment of, risk, consequences


    • Incoherent thoughts and communication

    • difficulty processing what someone else is saying

    • impaired short-term memory

    • impaired perception

Signs of excessive stress
Signs of Excessive Stress

  • Chronic hyper-arousal

  • Chronic hypo-arousal

  • Heightened stress reactivity

  • Increased sensitivity to pain (physical and emotional)

  • Reduced ability to regulate negative emotions

  • negative bias

  • reduced ability to read affect cues, show emotions

  • Reduced ability to hear human voice

  • Blunted reward system

  • Increased immune system problems

The effects of excessive stress
The Effects of Excessive Stress

  • heightened stress means child has to work much harder to pay attention

  • negative effects caused by falling further behind, being yelled at, having greater social problems, etc., exacerbate the drain on nervous system

  • leads to a chronic state of heightened anxiety

The three stages of self regulation
The Three Stages of Self-Regulation

  • Identify and reduce Stressors

  • Develop Self-Awareness (interoception and exteroception)

  • Develop self-regulating techniques, learning what to do to mitigate a stress response and what to avoid

Self regulation and adolescents
Self-Regulation and Adolescents

  • Why do increasing numbers of teens have low frustration tolerance or heightened impulsivity?

  • These kids are often withdrawn and apathetic, what we refer to as hypo-alert. What is at the root of that demonstrated disengagement?

  • What strategies can educators use with such students “beyond behaviourism”?

Self regulation and adolescents1
Self-Regulation and Adolescents

  • What is the basic difference between teaching kids coping strategies and helping them learn how to self-regulate?

  • What can we as teachers do to change these teens’ trajectories?

Self regulation and adolescents2
Self-Regulation and Adolescents

  • Adolescents and trauma: How do we understand trauma versus life’s other challenges?

  • Is there a difference between direct and intergenerational trauma?

  • What can a teacher’s understanding of Secondary Altriciality mean for our work with secondary-age students

Lake Kathlyn video 11:53 – 14:53

  • A community of “learning detectives” (kids and adults)

  • Parent awareness and engagement

  • Influencing the shape of the day and the shape of the learning spaces

  • Progressive relationship with the medical profession and other agencies

  • Sharing the stories, celebrating the successes, one discovery and one self-regulating moment at a time

Where to From Here?

CSRI: Committing to a productive nexus between neuroscience and education

  • Join us on this learning journey via

  • The website:

  • The on-line book club coming this fall

  • A staff study/action research group

  • Recommending articles for colleagues via the website

  • Watching for the launch of the on-line “Matrix” tool

Catch the Wave

Again, and again I was amazed at students’ positive response to having input/control in their own learning/behaviour – this inquiry changed this dramatically for my students.