|Principal & Clinic|
Conflict Resolution Time Machine
The Time Machine provides a way for children to "go back in time" to re-do hurtful interactions using new, helpful language. It is an entire conflict resolution and assertiveness training program condensed into seven practical steps that are used with students who’ve infringed upon each other immediately following the conflict. Regular use of the Time Machine is the key to bully prevention and victim empowerment.
The vinyl canvas Conflict Resolution Time Machine coaches children and adults through the necessary steps for resolving conflict in a healthy way. The assertive language used with the Time Machine is supported by the story in Shubert's BIG Voice, is discussed in the Conscious Discipline book, and is detailed with activities in Chapter 12 of Creating the School Family. The Time Machine process is:
Step 1: Roll back time. Have the participants and the class (when applicable) roll their hands backwards signifying going back in time.
Step 2: Are you willing? Ask for willingness. "Are you willing to solve the problem so everyone in the class can learn helpful ways?" If willing, the victim stands on the "I don't like it" side of the mat, and the aggressor on the other side.
Step 3: Breathing star. Be a S.T.A.R. Everyone Smiles, Takes a deep breath And Relaxes.
Step 4: Tree of hearts. Wish each other well. Everyone places their hands on their hearts and offers well-wishes to each other.
Step 5: 1-2-3. Focus on the goal. The adult and/or the class chants, "1-2-3," and the participants respond, "Let's do it," to build unity.
Step 6: Sentence starters. Coach the children to use helpful words. Have the victim speak first using the sentence starter printed on the Time Machine. "I don't like it when you ____. Next time, please______." Help children reframe their thoughts to show how they want to be treated. Instead of, "Stop it," teach phrases like, "Next time say, Move please, instead of pushing me."
Step 7: Hearts and globe. Connect to repair the bond and show there are no hard feelings. Participants connect with a handshake, a hug, a high-five or other connection.
Music that supports the Time Machine includes "BIG Voice" and "Turn Back Time" on Kindness Counts.
In addition to the many wonderful tools children will use to self-calm in the Safe Place, it is helpful to provide them with some specific tools and activities that aid them in composure.
The Resources section of this website provides several downloadable reproducibles that are helpful for conducting calming activities. The Shubert is a S.T.A.R. worksheets, How Do You Feel Chart, Putting Myself Together book and others are among these free resources. In addition, the School Family Make-N-Take CD-rom provides labels for making your own cranky, concentration and calming creams, a breathing star, an I Love You Ritual Glove and more.
The brain is a pattern-seeking device. We simply feel safer when we can detect a clear pattern. This makes it particularly important to have clearly stated visual routines in your ISS room, where children go when they are already upset. The more consistent and clearly you represent the routines and expectations for your ISS room, the more safely, smoothly and cooperatively it will run.
What is your process for children entering the ISS room? What do children in the ISS room do once they are calm? Simply state these and any other routines in pictures and words, and post them throughout the room where those routines occur. Children who have difficulty following a specific routine might need a smaller, personalized routine taped to their desks as a helpful reminder. Create smaller, single-page versions of key routines and keep them available for individual use should the need arise.
The School Family book devotes an entire chapter to creating routines, posting them visually and supporting them with related activities.
The Safe Place is a center where children go to change their inner state from upset to composed. The Safe Place in your ISS room will contain extensive materials for calming. The Feeling Buddies Self-Regulation Toolkit is particularly effective in providing the additional coaching necessary to help “frequent flyers” and those with challenging behaviors learn to regulate their emotions and actions.
A chair, beanbag, throw rug or pillow serves as a base for your Safe Place. Fill the Safe Place with tools and activities that lead children through the five steps of self-regulation: I Am, I Calm, I Feel, I Choose, I Solve. The I Am step involves the initial upset when the child becomes the emotion. “I am angry!” The I Am Smock is helpful for demonstrating this stage of upset. The I Calm step requires active calming, featuring the four main breathing techniques, access to a Friends and Family book, and other calming activities. The I Feel step includes identifying the feeling with the Feeling Buddies or a Feeling chart. The I Choose step requires the child to consciously choose additional calming activities utilizing the Brain Smart Choice Cube, I Choose Board and/or class-made choice boards. The I Solve step involves the child solving the original problem before returning to work or play, often through the use of the Time Machine.
Shubert is a S.T.A.R. teaches how to use the Safe Place and models the four main breathing exercises in Conscious Discipline: S.T.A.R., Drain, Pretzel and Balloon. Adults must teach and model relaxation techniques so children can learn how to calm themselves.
The Safe Place is discussed in detail, including activities and images, in Chapter 9 of Creating the School Family. As stated earlier, the Feeling Buddies Self-Regulation Toolkit offers a comprehensive, advanced approach that teaches not only active calming strategies, but also the essential messages our emotions carry and the constructive inner speech that is crucial to the self-regulation of difficult emotions.
There are many other products that support the active calming process, such as the Safe Place Mat, Safe Place Posters, I Can Calm book and Calming Pillows. Helpful music for the Safe Place includes "Bye Bye Crankies" on I Love You Rituals Volume 2, "Snuggle Up" on I Love You Rituals Volume 1, "S.T.A.R. Song" on It Starts in the Heart, "You Can Relax Now" on Kindness Counts, and "Calm Your Brain" and "Safe and Calm" on Brain Boogie Boosters.
Rage goes beyond anger; it is an extremely physical manifestation. Active calming is effective for anger. Children who rage must be given the opportunity for physical movement that activates the major muscle groups before attempting active calming.
Activities that help dissipate the extreme emotion and physicality of rage involve the major muscle groups and include running, climbing and bike riding. Teachers must work closely with children who rage to help them identify the “icky” feeling that precedes rage. Ideally, the child would go directly to the rage room to run, climb, bike, etc. as soon as she detects the icky feeling or shows early signs of a rage. If a rage is already in progress, an adult would assist the child while keeping her and the rest of the class safe. A child who rages will always need to conduct a physical activity first, and go to the Safe Place for active calming only after the initial rush of emotion and physicality has subsided. Individual rage books that step the child through the signs that precede a rage, depict the rage itself and show the aftermath of a rage are helpful in the teaching process because children are often completely unaware of their actions during a rage.
Principals and teachers share personal stories of transforming their In-School Suspension rooms into environments that support children in coping with extreme behaviors by teaching self-regulation and problem solving skills.
A staff member boards each bus to conduct a Brain Smart Start to welcome students to school and prime their brains for a day of optimal learning. The Brain Smart Start consists of an activity to unite, an activity to connect, an activity to disengage stress and an activity to commit. For example:
Adult: Boards the bus. “Good morning, we’re glad you’re here today. It is our job to keep you safe.”
Students: “And it is our job to help keep it safe.”
Adult: Leads the students in deep breathing exercise. “It’s going to be a great day!”
Adult exits the bus.
Bus Driver: Gives the signal for children to exit the bus and performs a goodbye ritual with each child on the way out.
Adult: Greets each student exiting the bus. All greeting include eye contact and touch.
Chapter 10 in the School Family book provides examples of greeting and goodbye rituals.