Connections Quarterly Winter 2019 - Restorative Practices - Page 31

R ES TO R AT I VE P R AC T I C E S I N E L E M E N TA RY S C HO O L this “plugging in” phenomenon when I was taking belly breathes next to a student who “flipped his lid;” he was able to “bring his lid back down” without taking the breaths him- self. We were then able to have a conversa- tion using restorative prompts and together come up with a solution that met his needs. tial that, no matter what the action, adults remain steady, calm, and consistent in their responses to traumatized children. A trauma-sensitive school recognizes that when people are in a constant state of arous- al their frontal cortex is not engaged and they cannot communicate or connect. Regu- lation is a technique that allows the body to calm down and re-engage the frontal cortex. Students need to be regulated before they can have a restorative chat (Souers, 2016, p. 80-81). Likewise, adults participating in a restorative chat also need to be regulated. Emotional regulation, according to van der Kolks, is how to heal from trauma (p. 209). If the adult is not regulated and tries to have a restorative chat with a student that is not regulated, they will both re-escalate each other. There cannot be a repair to connection unless all parties are regulated. One strategy I use to ensure a student is regulated is al- lowing the student to plug into my regulated system and use my energy to calm down, also known as coregulation. I experienced In my classroom I teach students how their brain works by combining the idea of char- acters in the brain from Social Thinking with Dan Siegal’s hand model. After reading Tina Bryson and Dan Siegal’s The Whole Brain Child, I adopted the house model as a way of talking about the upstairs and downstairs of the brain (Siegal & Bryson, 2012). During the first lesson, I show students a model of a house and tell them that we have two parts of our brain—an upstairs and a downstairs —and that the characters that live in each represent different emotions. The upstairs holds our logic, our problem-solving skills, our creativity, and our ability to calm our- selves down. The downstairs is made up of our survival characters, the ones who tell us to run, fight, freeze, or hide. I then introduce the characters to the students one-by-one. After the students are more familiar with the brain characters and their functions, we start to talk about times when one of those char- acters has taken over their brain. This exer- cise gets students comfortable talking about emotions in a low-risk way. For students who have a hard time talking about their emo- tions, this exercise is not as intimidating be- cause they’re talking about characters, not their own emotions. “A trauma-sensitive school recognizes that when people are in a constant state of arousal their frontal cortex is not engaged and they cannot communicate or connect.” Continues on page 30 CSEE Connections Winter 2019 Page 29