Not Just For K!

This year, I decided to join an educational Book Club hosted by our Board. We’re reading and discussing Stuart Shanker‘s book, Calm, Alert, and LearningNow this was an interesting Book Club, as it was advertised through our Board’s KinderConference but open to anybody. I’m very interested in the topic of self-regulation, so I thought that I’d register.

We met for the first time last week, and I quickly realized that I was one of the few people not working in a Kindergarten classroom. I started to wonder a little bit if I made the right choice to join the Book Club. Today, I decided that I did.

I just read the second chapter in Shanker’s book on “The Emotional Domain.” Wow! There are so many important points in here that need to be considered for all grades:

  • How do we not just see “emotions” in a negative way?
  • How do we regulate our own emotions, as teachers, so that we can calmly support our students?
  • How can we use a gradual release of responsibility model — in all grades — to help students take more control over their own emotions? What does this model look like in the different grades?
  • How do we address the varied needs of our students? I can’t help but think back to the 1+1+1 blog post that I wrote on the 19th.
  • How do we remember the impact that culture can have on emotions? How do we address this in a classroom context? I think here about Aaron Puley and his constant reminders about seeing things through an equity lens. This is so important here!
  • What impact does differentiated instruction have on this emotional domain? How can we make our learning environment — regardless of grade — more about “student voice” and “student choice?” I definitely see the connection between the ideas discussed in Shanker’s book and our current school focus.

As a teacher that’s now had experience teaching every grade between JK and Grade 6, Shanker’s book reminds me of the overlap between these grades. He makes me consider how skills that are often addressed explicitly in the early primary grades are sometimes forgotten in the junior ones (and please note here that this is my thinking about what he’s written, and not what’s actually stated in the text). Shanker makes me wonder how we can tie this emotional domain to curriculum expectations, and how we can focus on emotions regardless of grade.

While I hope that my questions and wonderings might be discussed during our Book Club meeting on April 7th, I’d also love to talk about them here. Please share your thoughts, questions, and wonderings. Let the “teacher inquiry” begin! 🙂


6 thoughts on “Not Just For K!

  1. Love the questions. Our school is big into Covey and the seven habits and as much as I really don’t like indoctrinating students or following things because a book says so I do find them useful when it comes to self regulation. The first habit is be proactive and we are reminded that were the ones in charge of our lives and our sphere of influence. It’s hard to remember this but if you can your well on your way. How many of our students and adults feel that when thing happen to them it is someone else’s fault. We can’t control people only our selves. I also often tell my students that every action has a consequence, good or bad it is still a consequence and we are only ones who control our actions. I think it is important that students learn this, as young as possible.

    This sphere of influence or I think it’s called circle of control works for adults too. I cannot stop people but I can control how I internalize it, react to it, and even deal with it. Thanks for the thought provoking questions.

    • Thanks for the comment, Jonathan! I’ve read Covey’s book too, and I didn’t even think about his book at the time, but you make a wonderful connection here. I’m hoping that these questions help generate some discussion. For me, making change is a process and it starts with the questioning, followed by the discussion, leading to more reflection, and then resulting in the change. Then the cycle begins again. Shanker’s book is making me think about what I currently do, but also what I could change and/or how I could do things better. I wonder how many other people are reading this book and starting to develop questions of their own. I look forward to a great face-to-face discussion on the 7th! Thanks for starting the online discussion here as well!


  2. Hi Aviva,
    I can’t comment on the junior grades, but personally I find I am very focused on self-regulation and other learning skills early in the year and therefore spend time explicitly teaching them. As the year progresses I tend to become more curriculum focused and less learning skill focused. Of course this shows up in student behaviours (usually around January) and I realize that I need to bring the balance back. Strong learning skills, like self-regulation, are key factors in student success and should be embedded in teaching/learning all year. Maybe this should be part of my ALP next year. Thanks for sparking this reflection on my practice.

    • Thanks for the reply, Iris! Your comment made me reflect on my own practices. How much do I focus on learning skills throughout the year? How do I focus on them? Do I help students make the connections between their actions and learning skill labels such as “self-regulation?” I know that I do so for some students, but do I do so for all? Do all students need this focus, and how do I address their varying degrees of need? How could I make a bigger connection between academics and learning skills? My questions continue to evolve … 🙂

      Thank you for getting me thinking more! The next Book Club Meeting is sure to be full of interesting discussions!

  3. Not having read the book 🙂 I can only share my initial thoughts on your questions here. The topic really appeals to me as an ’emotional’ person :). Could a step in the right direction be to encourage students to recognize their emotions and use the awareness of them to strengthen their connection to their learning? I feel that we are often told to hide/change our feelings OR we are told flat how to feel. Let’s all strive to be authentic…then the cultural impact can be celebrated/ shared and perhaps increased responsibility will come intrinsically. A little naïve I know :). But it’s how I strive to keep my class.

    • Thanks for the comment, Stef! I think that you make a wonderful point here, but how do we make this happen? If emotions are impacting on learning (for both the individual student and the rest of the students in the class), what can we do to help create an environment where all students can and will be successful? As adults, how can we be aware of our own emotions and what impact they have on our students? This book may be giving me more questions than answers, but I must admit that I like all of the “thinking.”


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