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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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Self regulation

Transforming Communities:

A “Vision to Action” Self-Regulation Initiative

and Education Meet;

Supporting Safe and Caring Schools

and Community Mental Health

Self regulation

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

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

Self regulation







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

Self regulation


  • 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

Self regulation


    • 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

Self regulation

Lake Kathlyn video 11:53 – 14:53

Self regulation

  • 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

Self regulation

  • 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.