Executive Board Tables Teacher Stress Reduction Program, Requests More Information – New Hampshire Bulletin
A federally funded teacher training program to help educators reduce stress in the classroom has been suspended after Executive Council members said they wanted more information.
Voting unanimously on June 1, the board opted to file a contract that would have extended the program for another year. The program, known as “The Regulated Classroom”, was first approved by the board in January; the new contract would double the amount of federal funding for the program from $815,400 to about $1.6 million in total, and extend the program’s end date from September 2023 to 2024.
Founded by a former Peterborough school counselor, The Regulated Classroom trains teachers in a number of techniques to ‘regulate’ stress and emotions in teachers and students. Techniques include vocal exercises, rhythmic tapping on the chest, coordinated arm movements and the creation of mantras, in line with the “polyvagal theory”, which proposes that a person’s emotional well-being is linked to their system nervous physical.
Advocates, which include Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and the National Education Association of New Hampshire, say the trainings are essential to help educators navigate the difficult transition period from social distancing and age masking. pandemic to classroom instruction. The first tranche of funding approved has already been allocated to the trainings, which are now earmarked; the new cycle would help to broaden it.
The state contract helps pay for teachers’ $299 “tool kits” to help with teaching, which include weighted slings, sculpting materials, bustles, stress relievers, massage balls and other items. And the contract pays the organization that runs The Regulated Classroom, Here This Now, $1,000 per teacher for hands-on training sessions or “train-the-trainer” events to pass on the methods.
The renewed contract had been delayed by Edelblut in May after some executive advisers expressed skepticism and hesitation. When it was presented to council on June 1, Republican councilors Dave Wheeler of Milford and Joe Kenney of Wakefield still had concerns about the contents of the instruction.
At one point, Wheeler focused on an element of instruction that features mandalas, a visual tool that helps focus during meditation, and is a sacred symbol in Buddhism and Hinduism. Edelblut said the use of this technique was not inherently religious.
“Are you saying that there is no religious connotation in the teaching of mandalas?” said Wheeler. “I would strongly disagree with that.”
Responding to advisers’ concerns, Edelblut said the contract was important to allow students and teachers to stay focused on the classroom.
“The goal here is really to help students be able to access their teaching,” Edelblut said, “by not disrupting that teaching because of behavior that can be managed.”
The item will remain tabled until a majority of councilors choose to remove it from the table and put it to a vote.