There are teachers who dream of being able to do something special for students in their classrooms, but more often than not, to bring those dreams to life there is a financial cost.

That is where DonorsChoose.org comes in, helping the public to help teachers bring those dreams alive for children.

Although school is not in session, teachers from eight classrooms at schools in this area are currently seeking donations to help them provide students tools for learning everything from technology to self-regulating behaviors when school starts in the fall.

For example, Meadow View Grade School counselor Nicole Dean is reaching out for the first time through DonorsChoose to have a project funded.

Dean hopes to gain the financial support to create a calming room at Meadow View. While people know there is a need for technology and other items, sometimes they don’t know that schools are also responsible for working with the social and emotional needs of students.

“Just within the past year or so, we have teachers at the school that are starting to use a program called the Zones of Regulation,” Dean said. 

The program explores strategies to teach students to become more self-aware of and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs and improving their ability to solve conflicts.

Dean said the program ties into schools in the area becoming trauma-informed schools, helping adults in the schools to recognize and respond to those who have been impacted by traumatic stress, as it potentially impacts students physically, mentally, behaviorally and socially. 

“It’s kind of a self-regulation program. It’s teaching them about their feelings and the feelings of others and how to cope with their ever-changing emotions and how kids understand feelings and relationships and managing stress,” Dean said of the Zones of Regulation program. “We’ve been using it in kindergarten though fifth grade with just teachers piloting who wanted to implement it. This next year we’re going to be using it as well, and more teachers are excited about implementing the program.”

Dean said the teachers wanted to set up a place within the school that the students can access at their request to calm down. 

“Kind of a chill-out room basically,” Dean said.

There are three offices side by side and one of them has opened up with construction of the new storm shelter. They decided to use the office  between the two offices, so they can always be available for students who want to come in and access the room for a limited amount of time.

“We talked about what we’d want to include in the room, everything from little fidgets they can hold or play with, some things that would help with self-regulation and calming,” Dean said.

The students could go to the room for three to five minutes and pick up something they like and help them de-escalate their emotions and be ready to go back to class ready to learn.

“We thought it would be good to have a beach theme. We picked out like a tropical beach sunset wall art piece. We tried to pick out colors that are soothing and beach-like. We have like an area rug that is aqua blue and sand in a sand timer where you can flip it over and watch it, and some mermaid sequin pillows and a sign that says ‘Just Keep Swimming.” Basically just things that provide a relaxing calming vibe,” Dean said.

They would be incorporated with things like soothing sounds and scents.

“We already have some of the tools that we need. We have the sound and I think there is an essential oil diffuser,” Dean said.

The cost for the other items to set up the calming room is about $656, which is the amount Dean is seeking through Donors Choose.

“That’s what we’re asking for help with. It’s really just about creating that calming environment,” Dean said. “We actually visited a couple of schools that have implemented this. One teacher even had a space in her room, but many of the schools have a school-wide area that kids can access if they need a break from the general ed classroom.”

Trauma-informed school programs are research-based and are seeing excellent results using techniques to help students with awareness and mindfulness of self and others and self-regulation of emotions.

Any help the public can give in helping Dean bring her dream to life is appreciated.

“Trauma-informed practices are at the heart of what we do,” Dean said. “Teaching respect for self and others through mindfulness, kindness and gratitude is a central focus while our students enjoy their beach within reach.”

More information about Dean’s project and other teachers’ projects in this area can be found by visiting DonorsChoose.org and typing in a city and state or zip code.

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