By Marie Edwards
Self-Reg has been my companion over the last 10 years as I have travelled from the northern hemisphere, to the southern hemisphere and back again. It has deeply permeated both my professional and personal life. From British Columbia, to Tasmania, and now to Nova Scotia, Self-Reg provides the lens through which I now view the world.
I can clearly remember the moment, enthralled by a keynote speech by Dr Stuart Shaker in British Columbia in 2010, when all of a sudden, everything made sense. It was the biggest ah-ha moment of a 30-year career in education. In this presentation, my experiences as an educator met with Dr Shanker’s scientific explanation and gave me the WHY that I had, until that moment not understood. This WHY was infused with compelling research and intimately reflected my experiences. The following years brought more of the WHY and additionally, and very importantly, it also brought the HOW.
The HOW came through immersing myself in learning more about Self-Reg. This included engaging in the online learning available through the MEHRIT Centre where among other things I learnt about the brain-body response to stress, the 5 practices, and the 5 domains of stress. My fascination inspired me to complete a Masters in Educational Leadership through Vancouver Island University. As a principal in a northern British Columbian school at the time, my research explored how different learning environments affected student self-regulation. It also led to my current PhD research through the University of Tasmania, understanding how teachers learn about self-regulation and how this supports their ability to manage stress. For this research, I worked alongside teachers at a rural school in a low socioeconomic area of northern Tasmania, Australia, to consider how professional learning for teachers in self-regulation could support their stress management.
Learning about Self-Reg fundamentally changed me as a teacher, administrator, and colleague, and it also had a profound effect on my personal life. Over the last years, Self-Reg has supported me navigating all the biological, emotion, cognitive, social, and prosocial stressors arising from parenting my own children entering adulthood, taking on a parenting role with my partner’s children entering their teens, bringing a long-term relationship to a peaceful close and stepping into a new relationship with increased wisdom and awareness.
Now, settling into life in Nova Scotia, Self-Reg continues to be part of my every day. Whether it be navigating the diverse impacts of a pandemic, parenting, partnering, working with pre-service teachers, facilitating Self-Reg courses through the MEHRIT Centre, or analysing the data for my PhD; understanding the brain-body response to stress and responding in a way that adds to the calm and not the chaos is what I try to do. Do I always get it right? No, definitely not. Do I reflect on why this is? Absolutely. Reframing behaviour, recognising and reducing stressors across the different domains, reflecting and restoring, are the 5 Self-Reg practices that weave their way through my days and weeks, months and now years. It’s like a new pair of glasses that help me see things differently, and for that I am grateful.