We believe nurturing students’ social and emotional development is as important as fostering their academic learning. One of the first steps in supporting SEL is to establish a classroom climate that centers on well-being, especially at the start of the school year.
Without emotional regulation, learning and social interaction can’t happen successfully. This is a fundamental aspect of SEL. Regulation is a developmental skill that can be taught and modeled, beginning with a climate of emotional safety so learners feel comfortable and supported in identifying their feelings and Zones. When teachers provide a safe space for students, it enables them to explore and become aware of their feelings and emotions more readily.
One practical approach to building this relationship is to incorporate a daily morning meeting using a Zones of Regulation Check-in (Kuypers, The Zones of Regulation, 2011). Morning Meetings offer a structured time for each student to get grounded, reflect and develop a deeper awareness of themselves and their classmates. It’s also an important time for teachers to appropriately model their own regulation, including emotions and situations happening in their lives and how they manage them.
Using The Zones Check-In also provides common language and a visual system to help students express how they are feeling in each of the Zones and what regulation tools they might need. The Zones of Regulation framework categorizes emotions and energy states into four color-coded Zones: Blue (low energy such as sad or tired), Green (neutral energy such as calm and focused), Yellow (elevated energy such as frustrated or excited), and Red (highest energy such as angry or overjoyed).
Here are a few best practices for a Zones Check-In:
By providing a dedicated time and routine for students to share their current Zone, teachers and other students can offer support and strategies to help students effectively regulate throughout the day. These meetings can also be a strong bridge for teachers and students to connect with each other and provide a positive, inclusive classroom culture.
As many of our readers prepare for the upcoming academic year, consider prioritizing the development of these essential bonds with your new learners. By kicking off the year with the focus of fostering strong relationships, educators will create an environment where students feel a profound sense of belonging. This allows both their social-emotional well-being and academic learning to flourish.
To learn from about the four Zones of Regulation click here.
For information about how to get started with The Zones of Regulation click here.