Reframing Francis: Is It About More Than Us?

The other day, I read a fabulous new post on The MEHRIT Centre Blog, which I quickly went to share with others.

This post has been on my mind ever since, and I’m now starting to wonder if the solution for Francis is beyond even the adults in the room.ย What role might children play in his success?ย 

I agree with Sonia Gregory’s message that Self-Reg starts with us. This was one of my biggest take-aways from readingย Calm, Alert And Learningย many years ago …ย and multiple times since.ย The more that I learn from Stuart Shanker and Susan Hopkins, the more that I find myself considering my own stressors, and the impact of my tone and actions on others. It’s why I’m far more conscious now of what helps me self-regulate. But I’ve also started to wonder if adults are always the answer.

I think back to the large class that we had last year, and the need that my teaching partner, Paula, and I had at the time to have children support each other. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to be there for kids, but we also knew that their success rested on more than just us. And so we actively supported kids in supporting each other. Throughout the year, we captured many moments, such as the ones below, where children were able to emerge as leaders, co-regulate each other, and turn difficult experiences into positive ones.

Now I’m not implying that any of these children have the same needs as Francis, or that we didn’t also actively support all of these students and more. But as we watched our kids take on these caring roles in the classroom and outside, we saw that we don’t have to own all solutions. Sometimes it’s amazing what a gentle touch, a quiet word, or an offer of support can do, and all of these things can be done by kids for kids.ย By letting students support their classmates, are we not only building empathy, but also reducing our own stress that might come from the belief that we have to “do it all?” How might this then change our tone, actions, and the trajectory of the students in the classroom? When kids seem to be the most dysregulated, as educators or as parents, we are often looking to ourselves to fix things. Maybe though, the solution rests in the connection with a peer, and the ability to wait, watch, and slowly, at times, walk away.ย 


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