How do you create a community of learners?

Creating a classroom full of self-regulated learners doesn’t happen on its own, but once you’ve helped your students build those skills, your classroom just might start to run itself.

The challenge


What we heard from teachers and administration at after implementing Tools at

How do you create a community of learners?


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The process

Committee search to choose the right curriculum

Selection of Tools of the Mind curriculum & professional development

Tools training and implementation for all relevant staff

Teaching and learning review and outcomes

Earlier this year, when the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) posted about an upcoming virtual workshop on teaching self-regulation skills to help solve challenges in the classroom, there was a run on registrations. The event, featuring Tools co-founders Dr. Deborah Leong and Dr. Elena Bedrova, reached maximum capacity quickly and NAESP had to start a waiting list. That’s because self-regulation, the foundational skill of all Tools programming, is something that a lot of folks are paying attention to lately. 

“It doesn’t take every child in the class to be regulated for the entire classroom to tip over to being regulated. What you need is a critical mass of children, and once that happens, you’ll see that they bring the other children along.” Dr. Leong

The regulation tipping point

When a few children have difficulty controlling their emotions and actions in the classroom, the whole classroom community is impacted. And usually not for the better. It’s worth noting, say the co-founders, that the same is true in reverse: keeping a core group of children self-regulated can change the regulation of the entire class in a positive direction. They call it the “regulation tipping point.”

What does self-regulation look like in the classroom?

When children transition from adult regulation, where they rely on adults to enforce rules or prompt their behaviors, to self-regulation, where the regulation comes from inside them, things start running very smoothly in the classroom. We see children who can: 

  • Find ways to solve problems
  • Take turns
  • Share toys and other materials
  • Manage transitions (like clean-up time)
  • Re-engage when their minds wander
  • Wait their turn
  • Persist on challenging tasks
  • Work and play on their own or in pairs

What role can we play to get children there?

Dr. Bedrova asks us to consider the connection between what is happening in the classroom and what is happening in children’s brains. How can we have the most profound impact on children’s developing executive functions, including inhibitory control, working memory and cognitive flexibility? How can we best take advantage of the executive function “growth spurt” that happens between the ages of 3 and 6? How can we help scaffold children’s abilities to encourage higher executive functioning capabilities?

Luckily, the entire workshop was recorded and posted. To listen to it in its entirety and learn from two of the most knowledgeable experts on strengthening children’s self-regulation, click here.