Reconsidering Procrastination: Could There Be Other Reasons?

I am not a procrastinator. I usually try to start my work early so that it’s finished before the deadline and I can even get feedback prior to the due date. But in the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that I’ve been procrastinating in two key areas:

  • Finishing report cards.
  • Packing up my belongings to move to my new school.

The Foundations Courses through The MEHRIT Centre are making me look at things differently, and I couldn’t help but think about The Shanker Method when exploring “why” I’ve procrastinated in both of these areas. 

Reading And Reframing The Behaviour – You could interpret this behaviour as misbehaviour. I’ve known the report card deadline for months now, and I’ve known that I’m going to be moving schools for over a month now. Some may argue that there is no excuse in not being prepared in either case. But what if we interpret this behaviour as stress behaviour instead? What might be causing me stress, and as such, leading to this procrastination?

Recognize The Stressors – If I think about it, there are a number of different stressors connected to both the report cards and the packing. When both of these things are done, then the change in school (and environment) will seem real. Then I start to think about emotional goodbyes, changing teams (and leaving those people that I’ve connected with so well at Dr. Davey), and making new connections and friendships (which I always find challenging). Moving items also means noticeable changes in the physical space and the feel of the classroom, which causes me some stress. The messiness that comes with cleaning and packing — especially additional “visual noise” — is also a stressor for me. I get easily overwhelmed when there are things everywhere, and packing usually means a lot of items everywhere.

Reduce The Stressors – Meeting with my new team before the end of the year really helped me feel better about these changes. I had an amazing afternoon planning with the entire Kindergarten team, and I loved making new connections, noticing similarities in beliefs and practices, and laughing and bonding with this new group of people. When I went to the meeting today, I felt queasy and choked up, but I left the new school, feeling relaxed and excited. Seeing the new classroom also helped, as now I have a better feel for the physical space (indoors and outdoors (of which there’s a forest, which is especially thrilling)).

As for our current classroom, I did a lot of cleaning and organizing this morning, and I tried to only pack up and move items that we have in our cupboard. The children won’t realize that these items are gone, and they don’t change the actually feel or look of the classroom. I’ve arranged to move the bigger items at the end of the second last week of school, so the impact on the students (and I think on us) will be minimal. I also sorted and cleaned areas in small chunks today, so that I could contain the messes, and the room still looked great — and organized — when I left the school.

Reflect (Develop Stress Awareness) – I know now what’s causing me stress, so I can also make plans on how to respond to it. Even taking the time to blog about some of my thinking makes me feel better. Instead of avoiding the work, I can instead look at when to take a break, when some deep breathing might help, and when even talking to a friend will make me feel better. I think that the connections with new colleagues and the packing/organizing that I did today helped a lot too, and now I’m actually eager to do some report card writing tonight. 

Respond (Develop Personalized Strategies To Restore Energy) – I’m so glad that the Kindergarten team at my new school suggested meeting today to plan for our upcoming Kindergarten Orientation and to connect with each other. While I’ve met the other Kindergarten teacher before, we haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk for long, so having that opportunity today was great. I also got to meet the rest of the team, and sharing ideas and listening to each other, made me feel so much more at ease. Now the idea of writing report cards and approaching the end of the school year, while still sad, seems a lot less stressful than it did before.

As for the packing, I wonder if sometimes the hardest part is getting started. The job seemed overwhelming at first, as there are so many cupboards and shelves to go through, but once I started today, the process went a lot quicker than expected. I also realized that many of the items that are out in the classroom, belong to the school, so the look and feel of the room for the children doesn’t need to change, as these items can stay in place until the end of the year. I think that this might make all of us feel better! 

Before these courses, I don’t think that I would have spent so much time digging deeper into the reasons behind my actions. Now I don’t just look at the behaviour of our students differently, but I look at mine differently too. Being aware, not only helps me reconsider what I do, but figure out ways to remain calm during challenging times. The calmer I am, the calmer our students are as well.

For months now, I’ve had a self-regulation dialogue running constantly through my mind — I see things, think about things, and reflect on things through this lens — and even as this course ends, I think that this dialogue will continue. I’m a different person now thanks to Stuart Shanker, Susan Hopkins, and the amazing people in our Foundations cohort. Even unknowingly, you’re helping me through this year-end stress, and I’m sure that you’ll also be helping me in the future too. How do you remain calm during stressful times? Who are some people that support you during this process? I hope that we can all give thanks to those people who help us the most!


When What Goes Up, Doesn’t Come Down!

During the nutrition breaks, our students go outside with another Kindergarten class. Many of the students from both classes love to climb on the play structure. They don’t just climb up the stairs. They climb on top of the slide, they climb on the wooden structure next to the slide, and they even climb on top of the railings and slide down the side of the play structure. The students are incredibly careful, and at least one of the educators out there, is supervising the playground area so that we can watch this climbing and support the students when necessary. The children also support each other.

This Is Just An Example Of Some Of The Climbing That Happens Outside

This morning, one of the children in the other Kindergarten class decided to climb on top of the play structure. Another student told him how to do so and how to get off safely. He really wanted to do this, and he carefully lifted himself up. Once he was up though, he froze. While he knew how to get down, he was scared to do so, and he shouted down for help. I was at the bottom of the play structure, and I initially spoke to him about how he could get off. Another child tried to take him through the steps as well. He wasn’t moving though.

One of the Kindergarten educators from the other class, came up and asked him if he could get down. He said that he was really scared and wasn’t sure. She was so soothing with him. She spoke to him calmly. She reminded him to breathe slowly and hold on, and she said that she was coming up. She then climbed up onto the play structure and helped him get down. 

I thought that we were finished then, but five minutes later, he was back on the play structure and shouted down to me that he wanted to climb back up on top. What?! I reminded him that he found it hard to get down the last time. I asked him if he was really ready to try again. I was actually about to stop the climbing, when the person that helped him get down moments before, said to him, “Do you remember how to get down now?” He nodded, “Yes.” She then talked him through the process, and he did it!

Not only did he do it then, but in the afternoon, he talked me through the process as he showed me what he could do now. He was so proud of himself! I think now about what would have happened if I stopped him from climbing again. 

  • Would I make him doubt himself and his abilities?
  • Would I make him question the value in taking risks in other areas?
  • Would I further perpetuate his fears?

I can’t help but think about what the other educator did. Not only did she initially empathize with the child when he was scared, and use her tone, words, and actions to calm him down, but she also shared in his excitement and supported him enough to work past his fears. She believed in him, and he ended up believing in himself. Has something like this happened to you before? What did you end up learning from this experience? I would love to hear your stories!


As part of my final project for Foundations 4, I am blogging about topics related to the four Foundations courses. While this post doesn’t use the terminology, there are links to the Pro-Social Domain (and empathy) and co-regulation. I hope that these blog posts provoke more conversations around these important topics.

What If Words Do Hurt You?

You’re not my friend.” There’s something about these words that takes me back to when I was a child: I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. As someone with a non-verbal learning disability, negotiating social situations was a challenge — at times, it still is — and I think that I was often viewed as awkward.

  • I didn’t know how to step into conversations.
  • I didn’t know how to initiate discussions.
  • Standing around waiting for the perfect time was often viewed as a strange approach, and people either walked away or responded to me curtly. 

I became a lot more comfortable being happy with “me time.” I’ve always loved reading, but I think that I started to read even more because this was something that I could do alone. As others were having fun with friends, I could get lost in a good book … and maybe convince myself that I was okay with this. The truth is though, I wasn’t okay with this

  • I wanted to be invited to birthday parties.
  • I wanted people to call me on the phone.
  • I wanted somebody to ask me to play at recess.
  • I wanted to feel as though I wasn’t alone.

Over the years, my social skills have improved immensely (despite still having some awkward moments). I feel very fortunate to have amazing friends that not only support me, but accept me for who I am. 

But then I hear the words that plagued me as a child: “You’re not my friend.” 

  • I know that kids say this to each other.
  • I know that often children will be “best friends” moments later.
  • I know that you can’t force people to be friends.

And while I can know this, these words cause a lump to form in my throat. They cause a tightness to form in my stomach. They cause an ache. Because I was this child that wanted a “friend” — a best friend, a true friend, a friend like no other — more than anything else in the world, and it was these very words that tormented me every single day. I may not be able to “force friendship,” but imagine if we all just “chose kindness.” If we included people instead of excluding them with the words, “you’re not my friend,” would new and different friendships form? Would relationships change? Would the school environment itself start to change?

In retrospect, I wish that someone — maybe another student or maybe a trusted adult — understood how much these words hurt, and sat down with the group of us to help try to build empathy and see different perspectives. Maybe nobody realized that these words would stick with me. I’m not sure that I realized either, until I started to hear them again from students, and they triggered hurtful memories. I know that I try to have these talks with children now, and with modelling and support, show different ways that we can respond to our peers and words that we can choose other than “you’re not my friend.” The talks don’t always make an impact right away, but over time, I start to hear more kind words, see more inclusion, and view less tears and hurt feelings over a lack of friendship.

While sometimes I wonder if I need to move on from how hurtful “you’re not my friend” was to me as a child, then I think of another child hearing these same words, and I wonder, does he/she feel as I did? What can we do to prevent these hurt feelings? Maybe it’s too much of a Utopian ideal, but how I would love to more often hear the words, “You can be my friend!”


As part of my final project for Foundations 4, I am blogging about topics related to the four Foundations courses. While this post doesn’t use the terminology, there are links to self-regulation, stressors, the Social Domain, the Pro-Social Domain, the Emotional Domain, and the value in positive relationships. I hope that these blog posts provoke more conversations around these important topics.

Could “Shhh” Be What Keeps Me Calm?

After school today, I was watching and listening to some videos that I recorded in Phys-Ed. As I listened to them, I heard myself utter a word that I often do: “Shhh.” Listen back to any of my video recordings. I usually say, “shhh,” at least once, and usually multiple times. I don’t even realize that I’m doing so. In fact, at different times in my teaching career, I’ve focused on not saying, “shhh,” and improving in dialogues with students, and yet, this is something that I can’t seem to stop doing.

Sometimes I catch myself saying, “shhh,” in a busy hallway or a noisy staffroom. I say it quietly. It’s never directed at anyone specifically. Often the word comes out of my mouth before I can stop it. And it was actually, as I think back to the times when I utter this word, that I was able to have my epiphany today: along with my other strategies, “shhh” has become a way for me to self-regulate. It’s kind of like deep breathing: something else that works really well for me. 

It’s as I say, “shhh,” that I’m able to quiet the noise around me and focus on what’s happening in front of me. Rarely does anyone respond to the word. I think that it’s so quiet that others have come to ignore it just as I have come to not hear it myself. The word works though. I find it incredibly hard to focus with any noise around me. I can’t hear anything. I can’t think about anything. I can’t respond to anything. But I’m a Kindergarten teacher, and many students talk to learn. There’s always some noise around me, even if it’s a low hum, and I need to learn to deal with this noise. Could “shhh” be one of the ways that I cope? What do others do? As I think ahead to what is surely to be a noisy year-end Kindergarten field trip to Lil’ Monkeys, I likely will be uttering “shhh” a lot. I hope that it calms me just as well tomorrow as it has at other times.


As part of my final project for Foundations 4, I am blogging about topics related to the four Foundations courses. While this post only uses some of the terminology, there are links to self-regulation, dysregulation, invisible stressors, and re-framing behaviour. I hope that these blog posts provoke more conversations around these important topics.

Is It “Us” That Makes The Difference?

Today was an interesting day at school. My partner, Nayer, and I were both out for the morning to prepare a presentation for Monday’s Kindergarten Networking Session. We had two supplies in the room — one who’s our regular supply, and one who’s never been in the classroom before. At first nutrition break, we heard that the children were having a marvellous day (always a great report), and a similar message was communicated to us when we arrived back in the classroom at noon. 

Walking in the room though, we could tell that the children were getting very excited. 

  • The noise level was up.
  • There were materials everywhere.
  • Some students were starting to act silly.

Nayer was leaving for her lunch break, and that’s when I knew that we needed to go outside. This is usually our outdoor learning time, and the students were showing that they needed this outdoor environment. We cleaned up as quickly as we could, collected some items from the classroom together (paper, scissors, crayons, pencils, and blocks), and headed outside. 

Another teacher mentioned to me earlier in the day that she might be bringing her class outside as well. She also brought out materials from the classroom to use, and our children loved using her materials too. We don’t usually get a chance to play with this group of students, and we have some siblings between the two classes. The children were definitely excited about this new opportunity!

During nutrition break time, Nayer mentioned to me that the students continued to be very chatty and active, even when they got back inside (which isn’t usually the case), and she chose to do an activity with them together to help calm them down. We wonder now if the change in routine — with supplies this morning plus new children and new activities for outside time — kept the children “up” instead of bringing them “down.”

Then after this break, my prep coverage teacher thought that she would bring them outside for some different learning time. For part of this time though, two other Kindergarten classes are also outside. Our class never plays with these students because of opposite recess times, and the activities were different than our usual ones. While the children in the other classes loved this outdoor time, many of our students were reluctant to play, asked to go back inside, and stayed close to both educators instead of interacting with other students. I’m left wondering, “why?”

  • Could it be because we were already outside a lot today?
  • Could it be because this is different than our usual routine, and we didn’t prepare the children for a change in plans?
  • Could it be because the other children outside are not the ones that our children know and usually interact with at school?
  • Could it be because there were more children and more noise in the playground area? We usually have two classes outside together instead of three.

Maybe it was a combination of all of these reasons. Looking at the students’ actions though through the lens of “why” (with all of these different possibilities) makes the behaviour make a lot more sense.

I guess then, given all of these various factors, it’s not surprising that within minutes of the children arriving back from their outdoor time — about 15 minutes earlier than expected — they were noisy, silly, and incredibly excited. Both Nayer and I initially tried to go around and model the use of quiet voices. We sat down and played with them. We offered groups of students different challenges to provide that “intentional interruption” and change the focus of the play. Nothing worked though. That’s when Nayer and I started to talk, and she filled me in on the lunchtime excitement and the outdoor learning time issues. Now things were starting to make sense. What could we do though?

For a minute, I decided to pause. I stood there, and asked myself, “What helps bring these children down?” Dancing. I knew though that if we tried to clean up the classroom and call everyone to the carpet, it would be a struggle to make this quick transition and likely lead to more stress — for both the students and for us. That’s when I went over to the SMART Board, and pulled up the Just Dance Webmix that our children love. I picked The Gummy Bear Song — a favourite for many children — and turned it up just loud enough that at least a few students around the carpet area would hear it. 

The plan worked. Within a few seconds, a couple of students heard the song, saw the video, dropped their containers in the water bin, and said to each other, “Do you want to dance?” Dancing is contagious, and pretty soon, many students joined us on the carpet to dance. 

  • A few students still drew pictures.
  • A couple of students looked at books.
  • A couple more students continued playing in the water.

That was okay though. The children that needed to dance to calm down, joined us on the carpet, and they did start to calm down. The other children calmed down in different ways — through drawing, reading, and sensory experiences — and then Nayer worked with a few of them to tidy-up. 

The process was seamless. There were no more transitions — which in a day full of changes, would have likely led to more problems — and everybody went home happy: educators and students included. 

Reflecting at the end of the day though, I realized how many times I’ve reacted differently.

  • While I’ve gotten better at asking “why,” I usually do so after responding, instead of before responding.
  • In the midst of “super excited times,” I don’t always take the time needed to pause and problem solve. 
  • While I know that the same approach doesn’t work for everyone, I don’t always consider what that means when it comes to carpet gatherings. 

Today’s experience made me wonder if after “perfect endings” like today, we need to ask ourselves more, what did we do differently? Is it our actions that ultimately make the biggest difference for kids? This is an “uncomfortable” revelation for me, but one that I think is worth considering. What do you think?


As part of my final project for Foundations 4, I am blogging about topics related to the four Foundations courses. While this post doesn’t use the terminology, there are links to self-regulation, co-regulation, up-regulation, down-regulation, dysregulation, invisible stressors, reframing behaviour, and leakage. I hope that these blog posts provoke more conversations around these important topics.