Real Talk for Real Teachers with Dr. Becky Bailey and special guest Vicky Hepler

Episode Summary

The end of the school year can be a challenging time when difficult behaviors pop up—even in the most connected classrooms! For students, summer can be an exciting and unpredictable time, and next year may be an anxiety-provoking unknown. The routines that anchor their classroom lives with predictability and safety are soon to be left behind, as are the rituals that have connected class members all year long. Students’ big feelings about these changes often show up as outbursts, chatter, defiance and other stress behaviors.

In this episode, Becky Bailey and special guest Vicky Hepler tackle end of year challenges with rituals that help ease the transition to summer and beyond. Vicky is a Master Instructor and a 36-year veteran of the classroom. Learn from her personal experiences, including the importance of “I will remember” and specific activities to soothe the “what ifs” of anxiety that crop up in the final weeks of school.

Essential Takeaways

  • Outbursts and behavior challenges signal sadness about leaving friends and anxiety about what comes next. For many students, summer lacks structure and next year is a big unknown. For some, summer also means facing issues like a lack of food or unsafe neighborhoods.
  • Connected School Families sometimes experience the hardest goodbyes. The more difficult the behaviors, the greater the need for end of year connecting rituals.
  • For older children, begin preparing 20-30 days before school ends. For younger children, begin 2-3 weeks before school ends.
  • Reframe the emotionally-charged phrase “I’m going to miss…” with the emotionally-grounded phrase “I will remember…”
  • Create memory books for children to take with them.
  • Have older children write questions for students in the next grade level (and have the older students respond).
  • Anxiety’s message is “I need more information to feel safe.” Ask yourself, “How can we soothe the anxiety and answer the what ifs in my classroom?”
  • Take a field trip to the next grade so children have a better sense of what to expect next year.
  • Involve the family and plan an end of year celebration with a focus on remembering.

Steps For Tomorrow

  • #1 Do something! Acknowledge the movement from this known, connected class to an uncertain summer and an unknown next year. “I will remember…”
  • #2 Create a memory book or video. Distribute a copy to every student.
  • #3 Give students the opportunity to gather information about what to expect next year.
  • Provide ways to remember the calming strategies they’ve learned (portable Safe Places, etc.).
  • When a student has an outburst likely stemming from end of year turmoil, breathe and say, “I’m going to miss you, too. I remember when we…” to help him or her process the emotion and upshift to the higher centers of the brain.

Important Links

Product Mentions

Show Outline 

  • :00 Introduction of Dr. Becky Bailey and Conscious Discipline
  • :50 End of year countdown and big emotions
  • 2:01 End of year at Dr. Bailey’s first School Family
  • 3:25 What to do
  • 3:40 Building a School Family with the Power of Unity
  • 4:10 Routines and rituals
  • 4:40 Thanksgiving story
  • 5:50 Introduction of Master Instructor Vicky Hepler
  • 6:50 When end of year problems begin
  • 7:25 Anxiety- Their safety net has a leak!
  • 8:15 Young children have a limited concept of time and ending
  • 9:19 End of year rituals say, “No matter what, I will remember…”
  • 9:50 Dr. Bailey’s PhD story
  • 10:45 The power of rituals
  • 12:42 Broken arm story
  • 14:00 When is it time to start your end of year rituals
  • 16:00 Helpful rituals
  • 16:55 “I’m going to miss you” vs “I will remember…”
  • 17:22 “I will remember” book
  • 18:15 “Love is a Circle” song from Kindness Counts CD
  • 19:48 Enabling older students to seek answers to their questions
  • 20:30 How to soothe “what if” anxieties
  • 21:05 Field trips to the next grade
  • 19:55 Involve the family like high school graduations
  • 23:00 Steps for tomorrow summary
  • 28:07 What is Becky up to
  • 28:44 What are we celebrating

Thank You for Listening

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On behalf of our Conscious Discipline family, we wish you well.