When a unique learner gets overwhelmed and loses control of their emotions, it often takes one or two adults to help them calm down and get back on track in the classroom. Teaching that student to use strategies to calm down independently will not only help them stay in control and get back to learning on their own—it will provide a valuable life skill. Deep breathing has a calming effect and when done correctly will help students destress and regain control of their actions. With all evidence-based strategies it is important to first teach the strategy to students when they are calm and ready to learn. Additionally, make sure to use a visual aide to show students when to inhale and when to exhale and how many breaths to take.
Built into n2y’s Positivity solution is a visual breathing strategy that can be triggered by the teacher to an individual student’s tablet or laptop, prompting the student to begin taking deep breaths. When a student’s behavior starts to escalate, the teacher simply selects the breathing strategy and a visual heart will appear on their screen, guiding and pacing their deep breaths to help them de-escalate.
Sitting and focusing on learning for an extended period of time is often difficult for students with unique needs. Couple that with communication difficulties and you have a recipe for extreme frustration when a student needs a break from the learning environment and has no way of appropriately telling you. Providing your students with a break card can give them the proper avenue for escaping the learning environment in a safe, effective manner.
Positivity gives you the power to determine how many breaks are needed and how long each break will be throughout the school day. Once the breaks have been pre-assigned, students have the power to select them as needed, which helps build their ability to self-regulate. When a student needs a break, they simply touch or select the break card shown on their personal device. A visual will pop up on their screen and the teacher is informed that the student has appropriately requested a break. When their time is up, the visual prompts them to return to their seat and begin working again. As with all evidence-based strategies, make sure to teach the routine first in a calm environment before expecting students to try it independently.
A special educator knows that the classroom can go from calm to chaos in a matter of minutes. One student’s actions can set off a chain reaction, which can quickly spin the learning environment out of the teacher’s control. While many unique learners exhibit behaviors that are seen as outside the norm, the solution might be simpler than you think. Teach these two calming strategies to your students and use Positivity to empower students to respond appropriately, using self-regulation to get themselves back in control of their learning.