Classroom management experts affiliated with the Esteves School of Education at The Sage Colleges will lead two free professional development sessions at Sage’s second annual Education Night.

“Education Night: Teaching in Today’s Schools” will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, 6-8 p.m., in Bush Memorial Center at Russell Sage College, 65 1st Street, Troy, NY 12180. This is a CTLE event for currently licensed educators.

Register for “Education Night: Teaching in Today’s Schools”

Laurae Coburn, Ph.D., will present “Creating and Sustaining a Mindful Classroom” and Kelly Brock will present “Reactive Strategies for Dysregulation in the Classroom.”

Read a Q & A with Coburn and Brock

Laurae Coburn, Ph.D.

Laurae Coburn

Coburn is a licensed clinical mental health counselor, a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor and a registered yoga teacher. She is director of program leadership at VPI South residential treatment center for girls in Bennington, Vermont, and teaches mindfulness in the Professional School Counseling Program at Sage.

Kelly BrockBrock is a board certified behavior analyst, New York State-licensed behavior analyst, New York State-certified teacher and a certified clinical trauma professional. She has taught in public schools and is now a full-time instructor at The Sage Colleges’ Esteves School of Education and a behavioral and educational consultant for school districts.

“Last year, we had a great turnout for the first Education Night,” said Brock. “I hope this year we can follow that momentum and those who attend leave with meaningful strategies they can implement within their classrooms.”

Keep reading for a Q and A with Coburn and Brock about what teachers can expect from this year’s event.

What will be some takeaways from your presentation for people who attend Education Night?

Laurae Coburn: I will lead a mindfulness exercise, and my hope is that people who attend Education Night will realize they can incorporate mindfulness into their own lives and their school environment. It doesn’t cost anything and there are simple ways to do it. It should be sustainable but it doesn’t have to be this “big initiative.” It could be a deep breath at the morning bell or an end of day gratitude practice. I hope the people who attend will feel empowered to start or continue a mindfulness practice that they bring to kids in their classrooms.

Kelly Brock: Attendees will leave with a toolbox full of strategies to work with disruptive behaviors such as students frequently getting out of their seats or fidgeting, through more escalating behaviors, such as yelling or non-compliance. I also like to focus on the importance of individuals learning to identify their own feelings and building their self-regulation skills. A question I often get is, “What do I do in that moment?” My goal is to help educators and future educators understand that all behaviors are a form of communication and our reactions affects students and their behaviors.

Please tell me some success stories your Sage education students have shared after incorporating some of your strategies.

Laurae Coburn: When my graduate students have included techniques during their internship, I hear feedback about how they’ve created a Peace Corner and are surprised at how easily kids take to it. Another option is a mind jar, like a snow globe, that helps kids visualize their mind as it settles in stillness. I hear lots of feedback about that.

I also see how my graduate students benefit personally. I assign a daily 10-15 minute mindfulness practice in my Integrating Mindfulness class. I hand out a mindfulness awareness scale at the first class, and without a doubt the mean score improves across the board by the last class. It’s a course evaluation piece for me but a personal thing for them.

The feedback I get is that the practice enhances the students’ awareness of present moment, they become more aware of when their thoughts are drifting off and they report an increased connection with people who are important to them. Students report they are better managing stress at work, and they see a positive impact on their sleep. Mindfulness shifts a person’s relationship to their thoughts. Some people can learn to worry less. As they become less attached to their own thoughts they are able to experience more contentment.

Kelly Brock: I often receives texts and emails from past students or students who are student-teaching saying “Hey, I tried the structured choices with Sally, and she actually decided to participate,” “I implemented a reinforcement system like you talked about and it is working” and “I tried the cards for my girl who runs out of the classroom and it has decreased her running out.”

As an educator and behaviorist this is exactly what I want to hear. That is not to say that every strategy works every time — there is no one size fits all. It is imperative to have a toolbox full — as you can probably tell, since I reference a strategy toolbox frequently.

How will your talks complement each other?

Kelly Brock: Dr. Coburn will teach educators how to engage in mindfulness strategies that can be shared with their students and colleagues. This is an antecedent strategy that is supported by research. Dr. Coburn will set the stage for how to assist students as a preventive and in-the-moment measure, while I will discuss different Tier 1 and Tier 2 strategies around self-regulation, classroom management and our reactions as educators in situations when students may be presenting with maladaptive behaviors. Antecedent strategies are crucial but our reactive strategies also help to decide the intensity, duration and topography of behaviors.

What makes these topics especially timely? In your work with educators, have you seen them looking for more information on mindfulness and dysregulation?

Laurae Coburn: When I first started teaching, interest in mindfulness was not as abundant and it just thrills me that so many schools are paying attention to mindfulness techniques today. In school counseling, we have to meet standards for social and emotional learning. That occurs when you teach mindfulness.

One of things mindfulness does is increase one’s ability to self-regulate. It offers a way to decrease anxiety and to slow down – which puts the brain in a place to learn, a relaxed state of awareness. And if we as educators are more centered and attuned, it will translate into work with kids

Kelly Brock: I have seen an increase in educators, faculty, staff and administrators looking to learn different methodologies to support their students in learning how to regulate, so that they can be an active member within the school community. The exact cause of maladaptive behaviors is not always known and not always related to a disability. Students at times are not prepared to be a student within the school or are refusing to be one. They may not understand rules, routines or procedures. They may lack the understanding and ability to implement coping strategies. Therefore, as educators we need to focus on the basic strategies of teaching students how to self-regulate. Without regulation, academics and learning is challenging.

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“Education Night: Teaching in Today’s Schools” is sponsored by Sage’s Esteves School of Education and Department of Professional Education Programs in partnership with the Office of Enrollment Management. The event is free, but registration is requested at sage.edu/edunight.