This year at Detroit Prep we are working to help students with their social-emotional learning by introducing the Zones of Self-Regulation. After many of our team members attended the EL National Conference this fall in Chicago, they came back inspired by the work of our mentor school, Polaris Charter Academy. At Polaris, students not only learn about the Points of Polaris (core values similar to our Habits of Character) but also about the Zones of Self-Regulation. The Zones framework teaches students to recognize their emotions as falling into one of four categories:
- Blue Zone - being in a low state of alertness: sad, tired, bored or sick
- Green Zone - being calm and positive: happy, focused or energized
- Yellow Zone - being slightly agitated: anxious, silly, excited, frustrated or nervous
- Red Zone - being in a heightened, intense emotional state: angry, enraged or scared
Once students understand how to categorize their emotions without attaching value to them, they learn self-regulation techniques that help them stay in the green zone (“focused and ready to learn”).
The Zones framework has really empowered the young learners in my Kindergarten crew. They understand that ideally in order to be ready to learn and to have fun at school they need to be in the Green Zone. They also understand that not being in the Green Zone is something natural and use a repertoire of tools and strategies to get themselves back to this calm, positive emotional state. Though my students are small, they are developing the strong self-regulation skills they will need to blossom into strong students and, one day, successful adults.