A Little “Down Regulating,” For Students And For Staff

In the past couple of years, I’ve really taken to reading professional resources. I’ve read a number of them on inquiry — a passion of mine — some on Language and Math, and even a couple of Science ones. But the one resource that I think has had the biggest impact on my teaching, learning, and classroom environment is Stuart Shanker‘s Calm, Alert, and Learning. I’ve blogged about this resource numerous times before, and it’s truly helped me gain a better understanding of self-regulation, and what I can do to support students as they get better at regulating their own behaviour.

The other day, I was trying to plan for some of my students, and I thought about creating a self-regulation corner. I wanted to give students a place where they could “down regulate” when needed. I sent out a tweet asking others if they had similar places in their classrooms, and many people shared ideas with me. As I thought about and planned this area for my students, I couldn’t help but think about adult self-regulation needs. Sometimes I think that we need these areas too.

After reading Shanker‘s book, I became more aware of my self-regulation needs. Without being cognizant of doing so, I actually regularly considered self-regulation in my day-to-day activities. I’m a teacher, and I love to teach, but the classroom can often be an “up regulated” environment. Or at least, I regularly feel up regulated in my role. So come nutrition breaks, I often try to down regulate. In a school, this can be hard.

  • The staffroom is often busy and loud.
  • Students in a classroom are often chatty at lunch, as they enjoy their break time with their friends.
  • Hallways, pods, and classrooms are busy with lunchtime practices and working teachers and students.

So where do you find a calm, quiet place to “down regulate?” In my previous school, and even now in my new school, I often go to the office.

  • At my last school, I used to sit on one of the chairs by the principal or vice-principal’s door.
  • Sometimes I’d sit at the chair behind the front desk.
  • I usually brought my iPad or computer along.
  • Sometimes I brought a snack or my lunch. 
  • At my new school, I often sit on one of the chairs by the front door. 
  • Sometimes I sit by students that are downstairs for any number of reasons. Sometimes we even talk quietly. Occasionally, I’ve even worked with some of my students that are downstairs. 
  • I usually still bring along a snack or my lunch, and almost always, my iPad. 

I can’t tell you the number of times at both schools that staff members jokingly asked me if I was in trouble. Hey, maybe I was. 🙂 The truth is though, I just needed this quiet time, and I think now of my students that might feel the same way. How often do we see all “time out” as trouble? How might we change this perception? 

Shanker‘s book helped me realize that it’s okay to need some quiet time. Sometimes it’s hard to get, but maybe we all need to find a way — for ourself and for our students — to get this time when we need it. I know that for me, having this time makes me more patient and understanding for my students, and they need and deserve this. Just like kids, maybe not all adults need this “down regulating” time in the same way at the same time, but when we do, how do we get it? What do you do?


10 thoughts on “A Little “Down Regulating,” For Students And For Staff

  1. Hi Aviva,

    Great post!! I find that I definitely need some time during the day to think and reflect on a lesson, focus on the strengths and needs of my kids, or just take some quiet time away from the noise which is ever present in an open concept school. My space is the library, where I can be surrounded by children’s books, something I am passionate about as a primary teacher. And yes, my iPad is with me as well, as I read educational posts and tweets. Just as our kids, we also need our “down regulating” time.

    • Thanks for the comment, Josie! I love the idea of having this quiet time surrounded by children’s books in the library. What a great idea! It’s funny how we both have our iPads with us. Maybe this is a way for us to disconnect from the “real world,” and quietly connect with others in the “virtual world.” (I must admit that I’m usually reading blog posts or tweets as well. Although, sometimes I’m also checking email.) I wonder how many other people do the same thing, and the different ways that we all choose to “down regulate.”


  2. Perhaps the more we are surrounded by exterior stimulation, the more need we have for quiet time. As an introvert, I definitely operate better when I have had some time to myself and I in fact seek it out. As adults our abilities to self regulate are more advanced, which is why we need to support children with their self-regulation needs. Wonderful that you are doing so!

    • Thanks Angela! That’s a great point. I’m definitely an introvert too, and enjoy and need these quiet times. I think as kids and as adults, we need an environment where we can “down regulate” if and when we need to.


  3. This is so important! I am a prof at a university and I have long, long days-with teaching and meeting with very stressed students (especially at this time of the year). I find that I am so tense, that by the end of the day my body aches–as if I had been doing physical work! I have created a small space in my office where I can access some music, sit comfortably, read, or just meditate. It is actually an outdoor chair and stool (light, but with good padding), a lamp with a full-spectrum light bulb, a place to hold a tea and my iPad for music–and I shut the door.

    • Thanks for the comment, Brenda! I love what you’ve done to create this environment for yourself. I wonder if more of us need to share about what we do to “down regulate” as a reminder that it’s okay to have these spaces … and that sometimes they are very much needed. I wonder what other areas adults use.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *