Inside Alexandria City Public School Samuel Tucker Elementary is a very special room. In it are cozy areas for building social skills and awareness, tactile learning and even tinkering in the tinker zone. Students can curl up and calm down if they need to in the “Safe Space” tent.
In addition to these stations, the room includes a stationary bike, mini trampoline and balance balls. This is where kids go to get in brain boosting movement that fires the neurons that grow new brain cells. Yes, NEUROGENESIS!
Movement + social and emotional learning
Social and emotional learning are core to the purpose of the room. Heather Dugan Kolovos, an inclusive kindergarten teacher at Tucker, created the space where students can reset and refresh.
“These days, our kiddos can be a bit off the charts behaviorally and socially,” Ms. Kolovos said. “My kindergarteners were three and four years old during the isolation of the pandemic. So, coming from that situation to full-time school can be overwhelming.
“That’s what this room is all about – to help them identify their feelings, work off extra steam and energy and prepare for academics.”
As she was building out her calming room with the various work stations, Ms. Kolovos reached out to M2L for some active seating ideas. M2L’s Program Director Jen Wiser picked out a small stationary bike, which was the perfect addition to the already spectacular room.
According to Ms. Kolovos, the bike is the cornerstone of the room. “My students love to hop on the bike for a few minutes. When they’re done, they’re calm and ready.”
Working throughout ACPS
M2L works within all of Alexandria’s public schools to implement M2L programming, including active seating, SEAL lessons and before-, during- and after-school time activities.
“I met Ms. Kolovos and her students last year when I taught two Social, Emotional and Academic Learning lessons to her class,” Ms. Wiser said. “She truly believes in the power of movement and the benefit it can have on her students’ social-emotional health and learning.
“Giving all students – regardless of their age or grade – the opportunity to move when their emotions get in the way of them doing their best at school is essential. So they can pedal, bounce or jump to reset and get back to work.”