I’m writing this post as I sit at the airport awaiting my early evening flight home from Ottawa. I just finished three incredible days of learning at the OAME Conference. I’m sure that this conference will inspire many different blog posts, but I think that my first one has to be around Self-Reg. This is not my first post about a Self-Reg conference experience, but this one, is different than my last post on this topic. There is a lot more to this post.
Strangely enough, even being at the OAME Conference required a little bit of Self-Reg. I applied to this conference on a whim back in the summer. I still remember the day. I was at Camp Power — my summer job — a little earlier than usual, and I happened to have a few minutes to myself. I was looking on Twitter when I saw a tweet about proposals for OAME. Perfect! I always wanted to go to this math conference, as Jonathan So and Matthew Oldridge spoke so highly of it. Presenting would give me the perfect opportunity to attend. I knew that I couldn’t make it to the BIT Conference this year, so this could be a new conference experience for me. I had a session idea, and so I wrote it up and pressed “submit,” before I could change my mind. I really didn’t think that I had a chance of getting my session accepted, and so I was thrilled and shocked, when I got the acceptance email months ago. I was also surprised when I found out that this conference, which I always associated with being in Toronto, was being held in Ottawa this year. Oh no! My session proposal was all about playing with math. I had plans to bring along LEGO, blocks, Perler Beads, bins of loose parts, muffin tins, and the list goes on. How could I fit all of these materials in a suitcase and get them to Ottawa? Blogging and tweeting often helps me self-regulate, and so in an attempt to feel better about this overwhelming problem, I sent out a tweet.
The hardest part with my #oame2019 session is determining how I can bring all of the play materials that I need in a suitcase that weighs less than 50 pounds. Now that’s a math problem for you. 🤣 Maybe I can get our kids to figure this one out for me.
— 𝘼𝙫𝙞𝙫𝙖 𝘿𝙪𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙚𝙧 (@avivaloca) March 15, 2019
Well here’s to an amazing PLN, who obviously heard my stress and chimed in with offers to help.
And just like that, thanks to Stephanie Ranger‘s generous offer, I could breathe again. Amazingly enough, I’ve never met Stephanie, and never did until the day of my presentation, but she was able to co-regulate me from afar.
This leads us to the first day of the conference. I went to university at Nipissing, and one of the many things that I loved about this school was its small size. I could never get lost. All of the rooms were in one small building, and the building was like a giant circle. I was even able to lead campus tours, and for anyone who knows anything about me, this speaks to the small size and wonderful layout of the school. Nipissing was meant for me! My university experience many years ago, did not prepare me for the huge size of the University of Ottawa campus. Thankfully I was staying really close to the building where the sessions took place. I have to applaud the organizers for such fantastic signs that helped even directionally-challenged me not get lost. That is until I got into the building itself. Then came the numerous offers of maps to help me out. I think that the tweets below sum up my map thoughts, and if not, this blog post certainly shares how I do with maps.
Needless to say, when I finally found the room where I would be presenting at 10:00, I stayed there. I was supposed to be in a session in the other wing at 8:30, but what if I got lost on my way back? And so, I decided that the session operating in the same room would be the perfect first one for me (and it really did turn out to be wonderful). I could then breathe easy and enjoy a session before the stress of actually presenting myself.
Thankfully I wasn’t the only one looking at this conference through a Self-Reg lens. Lisa Corbett, an educator that I follow on Twitter, shared some of her own dysregulation. Maybe this inspired me to be more open with my thoughts. I couldn’t help but think about Self-Reg even more when I joined a Math and Art session yesterday. The session was full of wonderful ideas, and our kids love to communicate through art, so I saw lots of possible learning opportunities for them. Like Lisa though, this was a case where I was not anticipating the stressors until I walked into the room.
I’m in an #OAME2019 session that relies on having and using spatial reasoning skills. Can I phone a friend? 😂 There may be a few stressors at play for me, but I see so much potential for our kids. #ICanDoThis
— 𝘼𝙫𝙞𝙫𝙖 𝘿𝙪𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙚𝙧 (@avivaloca) May 17, 2019
As I breathed deeply and attempted some challenging tasks, I was reminded by a fellow participant about how personal Self-Reg can be: what was a stressor for me was calming for her.
I persevered at this session though until I saw the next activity. Have you ever felt as though you didn’t even have an entry point? This was me. Maybe I should have kept at it. Maybe I should have asked for help. But instead, I walked away. Even with a growth mindset, sometimes we need to know where our limits lie. Thankfully there were tweeters still in the session that could help me see and appreciate the math/art connection, even if I wasn’t there to experience it.
— 𝘼𝙫𝙞𝙫𝙖 𝘿𝙪𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙚𝙧 (@avivaloca) May 17, 2019
This made me think of the classroom environment, and how we can support kids in both walking away and coming back. Do we provide these same opportunities for educators, and are they equally as important? I can’t help but think even more about cognitive stressors, and how we ensure these multiple entry points for both kids and adults. The session facilitator created a safe space to take a risk, but I still wasn’t willing to. Was the risk too big for me to take, or did I need an even stronger connection with the facilitator and the adults in the room, to take this risk? Maybe I would have felt differently if I knew more people in this session. Does this then speak to relationships being at the heart of Self-Reg?
Once again, I’m reminded about how much I view the world through a Self-Reg lens. Do others do the same? What impact might this have on your experiences? As much as I may have shared here, I still have so many more Self-Reg experiences that I could have shared from this three-day trip to Ottawa. Now imagine if it wasn’t an adult, but instead a child, working my way through these different stressors. All of a sudden, my behaviour seems a lot different … don’t you think?