During the last module of the MEHRIT Centre’s Self-Reg for School Leadership Certificate”, Dr. Stuart Shanker touched on the idea of Hope.  

A play on Dante’s words “Abandon all hope. . .”, Shanker shares his dream of every person who enters a school building embodying the phrase “Embrace hope, all ye who enter here.”  

As a follow up to this statement, he encouraged educators to reflect on their own sense of hope by asking the question “Is my sense of hope as strong as the day I took this job?” 

My honest answer; No. 

I am starting in on my 20th year as an educator, my 6th as an administrator. During this time, I’ve swung back and forth many times from thinking that I have the best job in the world to spending a considerable number of hours Googling “Things to do with a teaching degree.” 

The game changer for me has been uncovering the work of Dr. Stuart Shanker and the MEHRIT Centre on the science of Self-Reg (I cannot do justice to the concept in through this posting alone, so I encourage you to visit the numerous resources available through the MEHRIT Centre for additional details).  

For those of you unfamiliar with Self-Reg, think of it as the science of understanding stress.

Despite common beliefs, stress is not dreadful thing. In fact, it is an essential component of life without which none of us would ever get out of bed.  

Rather than trying to eliminate stress, Self-Reggers strive to achieve a balance of energy and tension that promotes their growth as an individual and allows them to engage in the most primal of all restorative of practices; social connection.

Finding Self-Reg. was my lightbulb moment. The moment when my love of all that is science collided with my fundamental beliefs.

Finally, here was the empirical backing to support what I (and other Self-Reggers) have instinctually known all along; kids that feel calm and connected are happy and happy kids are ready to learn.    

Even more mind-blowing to me is the fact that the science of Self-Reg. puts the well-being of the educator and families FIRST.

While there are look-fors you can seek to quantify the levels of energy/tension in a building (see here for mine), there is now quantifiable data in the form of PET and FMRI scans that prove the ‘feeling’ of safety, happiness, connection etc. you get when you walk into a building/home/room is indeed real.

This it the science of interbrain connection (think brain-to-brain Bluetooth). This non-verbal communication is the core determinant of the ‘temperature’ within a building.  

You can’t fake calm. If internal alarms are going off within the adults in the building, student alarms will also start sounding.

Unless the adults in the building are calm, we can’t hope to elicit the primal sense of safety within students that is imperative to them being ready to learn.

In other words, unless we look our staff, they cannot look after our babies. 

So, am I more hopeful than the day I started this job?  

That’s a huge YES!  

By Claire Snider

Passionate learner, leader, Self-Regger, athlete, friend, and wife. Mum to 4 amazing kids. Lightening the load of those around me so that we can walk each other home.

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