This is an important part of Two Rule Schools.
In the realm of education, assessment is often thought of as a means of evaluating students' academic progress and understanding. However, there is a deeper and more profound form of assessment that goes beyond test scores and grades. It involves being mindful of our own reactions to students and recognizing the impact that our emotions and behaviors can have on them. This form of assessment is rooted in the concept of emotional regulation and relational contagion.
Relational contagion refers to the phenomenon where individuals unconsciously pick up on each other's emotions and experiences, even in the absence of direct communication. As educators, we are constantly attuned to the emotional states of our students, and they, in turn, can sense our own emotional states. This mutual influence can create a feedback loop where our students' feelings and behaviors affect us, and our reactions, in turn, impact them.
So let’s ponder the thoughts of this for a few moments. How does this work in society? If we are watching, participating in and reading on social media platforms consistently the same emotional responses and reactions what is it doing to us? Better question—what is this doing to our children?
Understanding the importance of emotional regulation is crucial in the context of education. When we are faced with challenging behaviors or disciplinary issues in the classroom, it is essential to recognize that a student's ability to process language, redirection, or rewards is compromised when their stress response system is activated. Similarly, our own ability to think clearly, regulate our emotions, and respond appropriately is hindered when we are in a stressed state.
Just like our students, when we are in a stress response state, our emotional regulation skills become impaired. We may find ourselves feeling scattered, impulsive, and struggling to focus. Alternatively, we may experience a sense of immobilization and hopelessness, as our nervous system conserves energy in the face of overwhelming stress. It is in these moments that we must delve beneath the surface of our behaviors and ask ourselves what lies beneath our agitation, irritability, anxiety, worry, or anger.
My favorite saying I use: “Gather all of your facts before you react.” This is the time we need to use assessments to guide us in making choices, decisions and in asking the right questions.
By recognizing that behaviors are merely signals of what is happening within our nervous system, we can begin to cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves and our students. Instead of reacting to challenging behaviors with frustration or punishment, we can respond and approach them with empathy and curiosity. We can seek to understand the underlying emotions and needs that are driving these behaviors, both in ourselves and in our students. When we use Two Rules, we can ask the questions we need to ask in order to walk through the process of understanding all perspectives and issues involved.
Moreover, it is important to acknowledge that when we are anxious or worried, our ability to think clearly and logically is compromised. Our thoughts, perceptions of time, and even the way we interpret sounds can be altered. In this survival mode, emotional regulation takes a backseat as our primary focus becomes self-preservation. Recognizing this fundamental aspect of human nature allows us to approach challenging situations with a compassionate lens, understanding that our students' behavior is a reflection of their internal state rather than a personal attack. We emphasize in Two Rules that a reaction to any situation is emotional and a response is taking the time to reflect. “We gather all of our facts before we react and most importantly respond.”
Practicing emotional regulation is essential for educators and for teaching those we serve. By cultivating self-awareness and understanding our reactions to students, we can create a classroom environment that fosters emotional well-being and academic growth. By recognizing the phenomenon of relational contagion, we can be mindful of the impact our emotions and behaviors have on our students and strive to be positive influences in their lives. Ultimately, by prioritizing emotional regulation, we can create a space where students and educators thrive, leading to a more meaningful and impactful educational experience for all. Two Rules supports everyone feeling good and feeling safe in all environments. We can, and we will make an impact on teaching and learning with Two Rules. Please remember there is no excuse for breaking the rules; there are explanations. I hold everyone to high standards, accountability, and responsibility. But, we do not stop at passing out discipline; we work through every process to find the beginning, middle, and solution to resolve a repeat of any more problems.