Self-Regulation Is The Key

One of the things that I particularly like about SRSD is self-regulation, being able to self direct your own behavior. We've taken self-regulation procedures and we've applied them into an academic skill, you know, goal setting, monitoring, self-talk, self-reinforcement, both in terms of effort, in terms of what they do. I think it increases the likelihood that there's going to be self-regulated in their own life. Sometimes the self-regulation components can be just self-regulating the environment. I know that I get distracted easily so I want to try to minimize the distractions around me when I'm writing and we do this through self-talk and self-statements where we have kids write down statements of things that they can tell themselves when the task gets difficult or when they, when they aren't sure what to do next. It also helped them self regulate their emotions. Well, I know I'm frustrated and I've been frustrated before in my writing, but I know if I follow my plan that I can get this done

And we have them say weird things like this is really hard. I don't want to be doing this. My hand hurts. It's okay. I can get through this. I know the next step. I'll just do the next step and see how it goes. So Self-statements is what we call it, but it's really coping strategies to make it through this really complex task that we ask students to do.

I've heard many teachers say, I, I don't think I can do this, or I think I'm messing this up. And I always assure them even if you make a mistake because it's something new when you're trying it, you will still get gains. And by the end of the year, every teacher comes and says, you're right. I can't believe it. Every teacher will come and say, look at this particular game, or look what the student did. It's inevitable.

And this young man was presenting SRSD. However, he thought he would leave out the self instructions because he really didn't think they mattered that much and he neve heard of it before. And we break self talk down into three basic categories. Things to say to myself to get started while I work and when I'm done in those statements, we embed strategy you-statements, we embed coping with frustration. We embed whatever the student needs. This is very individualized by student, so he was going to leave it out and the researcher said, no, no, no, please just, let's try it so I can see the whole process and at this conference of teachers, he said, thank God for the researcher who made me do the self instructions. He said I had no idea how well my students would take to it. They love it. He said, I never understood how much negative talk was going on in their heads about writing until we started talking about it. It started with my thesis which was focused on helping children who were extremely shy and manage their fears and their negative thoughts and to replace them with positive thoughts and images and to be able to speak in front of others. And I leaned very heavily on the work of Donald Miklebaum, Don Dessler and Jean shoemaker at Kansas and Ann Brown's work, on the Vygotsky zone of proximal development. To figure out a scaffolded or successive approximations way to take students from where they are now to where they can go.

We gradually release students to independence. We don't just throw them out there, but knowing that if they're not successful, they just come back through the cycles again, wherever it is that they need. SRSD is much more integrative and because the kids get a voice, they feel like you're respecting them at a new level and it makes them gain the self-worth. That inherently builds confidence. So now they know, yeah, I'm going to set my goal and I'm grading my own paper, but I know I should've had more starter words, so next time that's going to be my goal, and they make that goal.

Every time a kid produces something, they do a self-evaluation and they record it so that they can see their progress. The second is, we often do stuff with peers giving feedback to each other, and third, I've come to realize that feedback can be overdone. That it's a lot better to get a smaller amount that's very focused than a whole lot that can't be absorbed by kids.

For most students, it's that confidence level of just getting higher and higher and higher. Knowing that it's not a monumental task, that they're not being punished by having to write that they're actually enjoying it and it's like other fun subjects. It's a thing of beauty when you walk into a classroom and you see 28 kids just on that pencil on the paper and they just love it and they just go and go and go and they asked for more time and that's what we started to see at the end of last year.

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