Calming Corner

Discussion in 'General Education' started by cocobean, Jul 2, 2019.

  1. cocobean

    cocobean Companion

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    Jul 2, 2019

    A little background: I teach third grade at a 3-5 school. The incoming third graders are academically low and have many behavioral issues. Of the second grade classes there were two that could not keep a teacher, so the students suffered tremendously.
    I’m considering creating a calming corner in my classroom. I will have a sand timer and different calming choices: mindful breathing, positive self talk cards, and quiet fidgets.
    Yay or nay? Any ideas or advice?
     
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  3. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    It's a good idea but be prepared to do a LOT of modeling and practice. I've had a similar area in the past and all of a sudden every kid needs to go back there to calm down.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
  4. cocobean

    cocobean Companion

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    That’s what I figured! Thanks for the advice.
     
  5. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I had one for three years, and I’m not this year. It became the place where kids wanted to sit all the time. I’m just going to move toward more flexible seating overall.
     
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  6. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I wouldn't have the calming corner without some rigid rules - they need to be using the self-calming strategies, they must try different strategies if use of the corner is excessive. There should be a set number of times an individual student can go to the corner, especially if other students are waiting, and most importantly, sometimes the answer will be "not at this precise moment in time" when you are actively engaged in modeling, giving directions, checking for comprehension. It will cut down on the run to the corner that keeps them from having the skills necessary to carry on when their time is up.
     
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  7. cocobean

    cocobean Companion

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    Thanks for the suggestions!
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    We are required to have one. I noticed in other rooms that the high flyers were just going over there constantly to play with all of the stuff. I have a rug with a tree on it and I've just told kids that my calm down spot is sitting on the tree. That way they have somewhere to go if they truly need a break but there is nothing interesting/fun keeping them over there or motivating them to go when they don't really need to.
     
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  9. cocobean

    cocobean Companion

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    @waterfall Interesting that you’re required to have one! I like the simplicity of your space.
     
  10. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    We are also required to have one at my school, but I had something similar that I did on my own before it became a requirment. Every single classroom has one that is supplied with the same items, and we all use the same language. It's called the Chill Zone. We do a lot of modeling and set guidelines, but there are no limits to how often it can be used. The point is for kids to go to it when they need to... That might be once every few weeks or even four times a day. So we talk a lot about how to know when it's needed. We also talk about how long to stay there. I put a timer there and teach the kids to set it for no more than 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes they are not ready to rejoin the class, then they know that means I need to call a principal/counselor/SEB teacher to provide them additional support outside of the classroom. They can't just sit there for long periods of time. They also can't use it to work or read. It's only used for it's intended purpose. When it is first introduced, we let everyone try it out, even if they don't truly need it. That takes the allure away soon enough, and then only the kids who truly need it use it. If it ever seems to be abused, I have private conversation with the student doing the abusing, and we talk about my observations and how and why they are using it so much, plus come up with alternate options. It's a really great thing! I would absolutely recommend that you do it.
     
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  11. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I agree that kids (and teachers) sometimes need a place and time to chill. But I can also see how a calming corner can become an incentive for needing to go there. Some might intentionally abuse the privilege, but for others, the calming corner might become positive reinforcement causing their brain to become anxious or upset in order to achieve the reward of the calming corner's chemical change in the brain. But I agree with bella, the students can learn to use the corner properly. With elementary ages, I have some thoughts about fidget toys; young kids approach such manipulatives differently than teens and adults. The repetition becomes an exploratory learning task similar to any toy; in other words, the same results would occur with toy cars, bouncing balls, bubbles, and although any of these would have a calming effect, they might (or might not) be too involved for a quick 3-5 minute calming time.
     
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  12. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I've had more success with conferring with individual students who show they need to occasionally have a time out to collect themselves. Then I can work with that student to come up with a plan for options when they need to destress. This only works, though, if you have a small number needing that support.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
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  13. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    We do this in addition to having a calm corner/chill zone space within the classroom. Some kids need to talk things out, and some just need a space for private processing - and some need both!

    Both of these practices align with restorative practices and trauma-informed schools. Those are big trends in my region right now. Not sure if that’s the case all over.
     
  14. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    It's something I've been hearing more about but definitely not at my school. Even having a calm down corner is unusual.
     
  15. cocobean

    cocobean Companion

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    I love the idea of talking it out with students who need it and also having a space for students who need a moment to themselves!
     
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  16. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I work in a school that practices mindfulness (in theory), and provides reset and calming rooms. Older students, but observation has shown me these things: 1. students who don't want to work or learn reject mindfulness in the classroom, where some learning may still occur, and request the reset rooms, where time limits are seldom enforced. 2. the same students spend the majority of their day going to the reset room (socializing along the way to and from the room, disrupting classes along the way) 3. staff is drawn out of classrooms where they are needed (and in short supply) to escort these same students to and from the room, and finding the students who have gone astray 4. the students who return from the room are no more ready to be a student than they were when they left. If I sound like I have very limited belief in the usefulness of reset or calming rooms, you would be right.

    Admittedly, my students are older, but I stand by the remarks from my previous post - these need to be some rules that pertain to getting certain parts of the instruction before leaving, I understand that the corner is in your room, but also understand that the amount of time that has passed can get lost in the shuffle of a class full of students during instruction. I would, therefore, be vigilant about the amount of time spent there, especially the frequent flyers. If you have the support of counselors and social workers in the school to support you with these specific children, that would somewhat brighten my viewpoint. I have not found that the coping methods that students can use are applied as often as they could be, making the purpose of these places less effective than desired., IMHO.
     
  17. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    It’s amazing how, after they’ve had some experience using it, eventually they get used to using it for just a few minutes, self-regulating, and then returning to the lesson all on their own. There are, of course, kids who need that conversation, but it lessens over time. Since they will need to learn how to self-regulate as they get older, it’s great for them to get this practice and support while they are young.
     
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  18. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Jul 5, 2019

    In preschool/Head Start, I love it when my kids put themselves in the quiet area! It's that moment that makes you realize, they are learning to build self-control. Definitely and observation to record!! Some kids will look at them, puzzled. This is especially true for the 3s because they are probably thinking...what did he do? I might ask, "Is everything okay?" and they shake their heads, or say yes. So I leave them alone. If they nod with a no or start to cry..I will go over. It's that situation when a 4-5 year kid says, "I am taking myself out before the teacher calls me and puts me out!" Priceless!
     
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