In this episode, Dr. Lori Desautels shares her experiences with working with students coming from traumatic backgrounds and educates us on the four parts of Educational Neuroscience. She’s also going to take us through several steps we can take to coregulate students who are becoming escalated in our classrooms. She also talks about how we, as educators, can coregulate ourselves, after we’ve gone through trauma and ways we can help ourselves and our coworkers.
Dr. Lori Desautels is an assistant professor at Butler University in Indianapolis.Lori’s passion is engaging her students through neuroscience in education, integrating mind-brain teaching and learning strategies into her courses at Marian and now Butler University. Lori has conducted workshops throughout the United States and abroad.
Schools are changing their perspective. We’re finally seeing a shift from zero tolerance to trying to understand the brain, how it works, and how when we punish in traditional ways we are retraumatizing students and aren't getting a long term behavioral change.
Some teachers are moving away from the idea of classroom/behavior management and instead are moving towards coregulation, because you can’t manage another human being.
Students don’t come to school with experiences with adults who can soothe and touch and give warm eye contact and calm emotions. Teachers can be that adult model of calm and predictability.
Attachment is the carrier of all development. When you have students moving from home to home or they have unpredictable chronic adversity, building relationships and strengthening attachments is the only way we can build those connections and get their brains ready to learn.
When a child escalates, we unintentionally escalate and engage in a power struggle - step away and take care of your own brain state, take 3-10 deep breaths not just for ourselves but to model how to get calm.
Educational Neuroscience has four parts
Coregulation (Sensory opportunity)
Teaching Ss about neuroanatomy - learn with your students and build relationships by learning side by side
Educator brain state - we don’t respond well when our own stress response systems are activated
Ways to deregulate - focus on the process, not the end product
2x10 strategy - intentional 2 min for 10 days in a row about their passion or their lives about them and their life to strengthen
Validation - “That must feel very…” “This must make you feel…” “You sound so…” Instead of answering a complaint or encouraging their escalation, hear the feeling and mirror that. Wait for their response.
Using bell work and morning meeting, 5-10 minute ritual at the beginning or end of the day to create ‘family privilege’ to the classroom. Because students are living daily, chronic unpredictability, working on mindfulness or Focused Attention Practices will support that predictability and encourage a calm state.
Students either can’t identify and verbalize how they feel because they don’t have the words. Students don’t know how they feel, so using a sensation word can help students to explain their feelings:
Instead of saying you feel sad or angry, they feel stuck, shakey, teary, edgy, butterflyish or calm
“What you can name, you can tame. What’s sharable is bearable.” - Dan Segal
Using drumming, clapping, snapping, metronome beats for kids to make up their own pattern and beat to help regulate.
Using sequined pillows or passing hand warmers around and taking three deep breaths
Noticing - different than praising - noticing new shoes, new haircut, coming in extremely upset and taking the time to acknowledge what you notice
Dysregulated staff will create dysregulated students.
Lori suggests that everything that we offer to students in our classrooms, administrators can coregulate their staff by offering a space that is calming
Principals - When you model these practices with your staff, your staff will be more inspired and encouraged to bring those practices into their classrooms
Consistency is KEY.
“If we feel safe and we feel felt, we will learn.”
Validate your teachers’ feelings
Asking three questions that are a game changer when both parties are in a calm state:
What do you need from me?
How can I help?
What can we do together?
How to support a colleague who is struggling, feeling defeated or helpless:
- notice - drop a note that validates and shares that you’re there for them, should they choose to come to you for support