Friday, May 1, 2015

Lessons from the Cool Down Corner

We have a school wide policy this year that every class should have a designated "cool down corner."  I only really got mine up and running a few months ago, but it's already become an essential part of our classroom culture.  Here are a few things I've learned along the way:

1. Don't mandate when a student should use the cool down corner.  I offer it when a student is becoming visibly upset, but I never make the student go there.  It can then quickly become a punishment and lose its value as a self-regulating tool.

2. Don't doubt a student's need to take a cool down. Especially when I first added the bean bag chair, students were ALWAYS asking to take a cool down, to the point where they were having to take timed turns.  While I knew most of these students probably didn't actually need a cool down, I let them all take one anyway.  This way, they got to practice using the cool down in a non-threatening way, and they would feel more comfortable using it in the future.  Sometimes, if we're in the middle of something really important or right at the end of class, I will prompt the student to think about if they really need a cool down.  If they still say yes, I let them.  Though perhaps this has made room for it to be misused a tiny bit, I think it's made it more effective in the long run.

3. The cool down is quiet time.  Sometimes students (especially students with ADHD symptoms) continue to call out from the cool down corner.  While I'm not a big "enforcer" in the classroom, I do insist that they are quiet in the cool down corner.  If a student cannot control themselves, I let the other students know to ignore them, and that by doing so, they are actually helping their classmate calm down.

Another great way to to facilitate social emotional learning in the classroom is to teach about having a growth mindset-- read all about Cultivating A Growth Mindset In Your Students here.

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