You know that student you have who always seems to be in the wrong gear? If everyone else is excited about painting a mural, he seems to need a nap. If it’s time to take turns reading aloud, he wants recess now. After recess, he’s too revved up for learning. And when he’s finally settled and ready to learn something, it’s lunch time and he can’t handle the chaos of the cafeteria.
We know him, too. As occupational therapists and international consultants and trainers, we’ve met him and hundreds of kids like him. In fact, we wrote a book about him – just for you. It’s called How Does Your Engine Run?”®, A Leader’s Guide to the Alert Program® for Self-Regulation.
Yes, that’s a mouthful, but it will take you through the basics of something you do every day, and teach you how to help your students master it – no matter their age.
We call it self-regulation – adjusting your alert level to the task at hand. You do it all day long, from the time you crawl out of bed to the time you crawl back in. Right now in your classroom, you might notice a range of energy expression – maybe one kiddo can barely stay awake, another is ready and eager to learn, and an apparent wild child is bouncing off the walls. Good news. Not only is it possible for Sleepy and Speedy to behave much like Studious, it’s highly probable they would enjoy learning how, and help each other succeed. Hang on to your resting heart rate, it only sounds like a miracle.
In this book, we used an engine metaphor to get our point across. Students learn that everyone has an “engine” – that part of us that powers us through the day. The engine either runs high (time for recess!), low (“where’s my blankie?”) or just right (calm, focused, ready to learn).
Read the Leader’s Guide to learn how to teach your students to identify what state they’re in – and adjust it. Yes, it is actually possible to get all your students into a just-right state for learning at the same time. We believe all states have attributes – you want a low state at bedtime, for example – but in a school setting, you’re mostly aiming for just right, the optimal state for learning.
Now, you can approach the Leader’s Guide in a scholarly way if you choose – it’s chockful of sensory theory and all manner of charts and stuff about the autonomic nervous system. But it’s also a highly readable book about real people and real issues you’ve been seeing every day. It includes low-budget activities, step-by-step guidelines, and 50+ pages of reproducible charts – all kinds of inclusive stuff that helps the students learn to self-regulate.
You’ll explore five categories – mouth, move, touch, look and listen – that hold the keys to changing and maintaining engine levels. Great innovative and practical ideas you easily can incorporate into your lesson plans. Learn how your senses talk to your physical self – and those of your students. You might even change a few of your own behaviors. It’s education wrapped in a good time.