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Relationships Over Academics / ep13 show notes

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

This is the Polyvagal Schools series, part 4 of 5


Things we have to agree on first:

We sadly can’t count on parents all the time.

We have to be able to change behavior within the classroom

There’s always another kid coming in the next year that’s going to be a challenge

Passing the issue on isn’t a sustainable model

Regular ed is looking more and more like special ed classes

There probably aren’t enough MHC to refer to

Safety and relationships come before academics

To encourage students to change their behaviors, they must WANT to do it for themselves

This intrinsic motivation evolves from their relationships/connections: co-regulation

Caring can look different between teachers

Before the behavior problem is going to be the primary factor

Positivity Bookends to the Class

  • Warm Welcome: Handshake, high five, dap, verbal acknowledgment, smile, prosody

  • Grateful Goodbye: What you appreciated about them today, something positive, smile, prosody

Brain breaks: Planned short breaks that involve movement, art, music, fidgets

Your own cues of safety: Positivity, Prosody, Smiling, Eye crinkles

Clear and positive expectations: to succeed, to put in the effort, to be respectful of others, modeled by the teacher

Relationship - Students have to feel you care

  • Circles

  • “Ready to Learn” checkins

  • Principal check-ins idea

  • Have genuine fun:

  • Play with them during recess!

  • No phone use by anyone

  • Play a game with them during the line walks!


Brain Breaks or Things to Add Into a Lesson


  • Stretch or chair yoga

  • Toe wiggles

  • Breathing exercise

  • Fold inward and expand exercise

  • Random thought exercise

  • “Voo” as a class

  • Self hug and hand on chest/forehead


  • Arm pushes

  • Wall pushes

  • Arm/torso muscle relaxation


  • Toe stands

  • Foot/leg muscle relaxation

  • Message delivery w/mindfulness challenge

  • Line fun


  • 30 second clip, allow them to move

  • “Is it a bop or a sway?”

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