Have you ever had the experience of becoming the living embodiment of an illustrated children’s book character? Yeah, that’s happened to me. I am Froggy. The Froggy that goes to school Froggy.
In the children’s story, Froggy feels anxious about his first day of school. His healthy and natural nervousness (the body’s stress response system is activated by novelty) manifests in his dream. In his dream, he misses the bus and shows up to class in his underwear.
I am feeling “Froggy.”
Two mornings ago, I was double and triple checking my packing list – making certain I had everything – especially the right clothes, my computer, my power cords, the right shoes – for my four days in California. My heavy footsteps underscored the internal pressure I felt. In my experience, the feeling of being prepared in my body is half the battle of actually being prepared in my mind.
I was not the only one feeling anxious about my pending departure. My baby Maple resonates with the quickening of her momma’s pace. I am practically tripping over her – my 1.5-year-old golden retriever mix insists on accompanying my every foot step – up and down every stair. She knows her momma has business to attend to and she too is anxious about my exit.
That’s the thing, we are hardwired to resonate with the internal states of those around us. We resonate with all living beings – including animals. It’s hardwired into the essence of our survival. We experience this resonance if we are aware and alive in our bodies. This is what I will be trying to awaken or fine-tune in the hard working educators of Dana Middle School in San Pedro, CA.
People often ask me the question, “What is The Regulated Classroom?” At its essence, it’s an approach to creating community in the classroom by helping educators deepen self-awareness about group resonance and their capacity for self-regulation.
Through lived experience, we often “deaden” our inner experience of resonance. I have had countless conversations with educators about a classroom that feels out of control and I ask the question, “so how is that for you?” Common response: “It’s whatever. I don’t even know.”
In the clinical world, this is called disassociation. In the world of education, this is called survival.
People may not understand this, but being an educator today – Para educator, counselor, classroom teacher, administrator, has never been more challenging. Students show up to school with more “out of control” behaviors at younger and younger ages and educators are left trying to answer the question, “so I am supposed to get “that kid” on grade level in math, reading, science, social studies, etc.?” That creates instant overwhelm in the body’s stress response system. Too much of this experience, over and over again without repair, results in compassion fatigue. In short, it fuels the phenomenon of burnout in the profession of education.
So I am in my hotel room, “up and at’em” early this morning – fine tuning my PowerPoint slides and ironing my outfit. But truthfully, I will be relying on my capacity for resonance to know what content and how to deliver it to these educators today and tomorrow. All the “to do’s,” agendas, and sensory tools can’t determine that.
Still, I feel froggy. There’s no getting away from that. I can’t override what’s happening in my body. Instead, I will pay attention to it, honor it, and then breath and move to help me regulate.
Much like Froggy, I know I will be better off when I actually get to school. The novelty will be over and I will make new friends. And thankfully, I did just that. I was able to capitalize on the openheartedness of Lara Kain and the principal and staff of this school. What a gift!
The Regulated Classroom went to California and boy oh boy, it leaped to new heights.