May 2021 TIC Tip of the Month

Universal Design for Learning – Self Regulation

Let’s dig deeper into providing means of engagement that are aligned with the principles of TIC (providing adult approved choices, helping students become self-regulated and resilient, building positive relationships with others, and creating environments that students perceive as inclusive and safe).  In UDL, Engagement is broken down into 3 parts:  1) Recruiting Interest (Described in the March Tip of the Month), 2) Sustaining Effort and Persistence (Described in April’s Tip of the Month), and 3) Self-Regulation (May’s Tip of the Month).  

(Image of Engagement: The “Why” of Learning; Image of Representation: The “What” of Learning; Image of Action & Expression: The “How” of learning.)

The brain and body’s stress response system is designed to “protect” us from the stress that trauma produces. Certain parts of the brain are placed on high alert, while other parts become much less active. This has a significant impact on a student’s ability to self-regulate (control emotions, stay calm), pay attention, be less impulsive, and form healthy relationships.  When we try to teach self-regulation skills without considering a student’s co-regulation history, we risk asking too much of them too soon. Many students who have experienced trauma do not have a history of co-regulation with caring adults, upon which successful self-regulation is learned. Asking them to automatically self-regulate at school is like expecting a “teen to drive safely, following “all of the rules of the road”, without driver’s education.”  All of us, especially students, can be co-regulated. We become more regulated when the person with whom we are interacting is regulated themselves (calmly managing emotions) and their self-regulation draws us into becoming more regulated too. This means that adults need to model high levels of self-regulation when working with students.

3) Self-Regulation

*Promote Expectations and Beliefs that Optimize Motivation

One important aspect of self-regulation is the personal knowledge each student has about what he or she finds motivating. To accomplish this, learners need to be able to set personal goals that can be realistically reached, as well as believing that their goals can be met. However, learners also need to be able to deal with frustration and avoid anxiety when they are in the process of meeting their goals. Multiple options need to be given to learners to help them stay motivated.

  • Provide prompts, reminders, guides, rubrics, checklists that focus on:
    • Self-regulatory goals like reducing the frequency of aggressive outbursts in response to frustration
    • Increasing the length of on-task orientation in the face of distractions
    • Increasing the frequency of self-reflection and self-reinforcements
  • Provide coaches and adult mentors who model the process of setting personally appropriate goals that take into account strengths and weaknesses

*Facilitate Personal Coping Skills & Strategies

Providing a model of self-regulatory skills is not sufficient for most learners. They will need sustained practice. Reminders, models, checklists, and so forth can assist students in choosing and trying an adaptive strategy for managing and directing their emotional responses to external events (e.g., strategies for coping with anxiety-producing social settings, or for reducing task distracters) or internal events (e.g., strategies for decreasing depressive or anxiety-producing thoughts). Provide differentiated models, scaffolds and feedback for:

  • Managing frustration
  • Seeking external emotional support
  • Developing internal controls and coping skills
  • Appropriate handling of self- judgment (e.g., “How can I improve on the areas I am struggling in?” rather than “I am not good at math!”)
  • Use real life situations or simulations to demonstrate coping skills

*Develop Self-Assessment and Reflection

In order to develop better capacity for self-regulation, learners need to learn to monitor their emotions and reactivity accurately. Students differ considerably in their capacity for metacognition (understanding of one’s own thought processes), and some learners will need a great deal of explicit instruction and modeling in order to learn how to do this successfully. For many learners, recognizing that they are making progress toward greater independence is highly motivating.  One of the key factors in learners losing motivation is their inability to recognize their own progress.  It is important that learners have varied self-assessment techniques so that they can identify and choose ones that work for them.

  • Offer choices in devices, aids, or charts to assist students in learning to collect, chart, and display data from their own behavior for the purpose of monitoring changes in those behaviors
  • Incorporate activities that include learners getting constructive and timely feedback (in a safe environment) and options (e.g., charts, templates, feedback displays) to help students reflect on their progress

Representation and Action & Expression will be covered in Tips of the Month during the 21-22 school year!
The information above was modified from the following sites: