School Discipline Data Points to the Need for Self-Regulation Skills

Terminal Park Elementary School in Auburn, WA is one of our Whole School partners. They have an active Data Team made up of staff who are leading the implementation of Sound Discipline work at their school. Data Teams in our partner schools gather and analyze discipline data – which is documentation of when a student is removed from the classroom or community. They look for patterns in that data and define potential problems that indicate either a systemic issue or lagging skills that need to be developed in adults or young people. The Data Team proposes a solution and works with the entire school community to implement the plan.


Physical Aggression Challenges on the Playground

The Terminal Park team noticed a pattern of physical aggression on their playground. Students were using physical force in response to conflict and to deal with their big feelings. Whether it was fighting over the rules of a game, or not wanting to share equipment, time on the playground was not feeling safe or fun for anyone.


A Two-Part Solution

As a way to reduce the challenge of aggression on the playground the team suggested a two-part solution. Teachers used class meetings to engage with students about the problems on the playground and asked them to think about solutions to make recess safer and fun for everyone. Each class generated ideas and checked in with their plans before going out to recess, and then reflected on how it went afterwards. They also decided as a whole school community to focus on building both adult and student self-regulation skills. To do this, they asked all classroom teachers to do self-regulation activities multiple times per day.


Terminal Park teacher and student demonstrate ‘hot cocoa breathing’.

Student-Led Skill Building Videos

Two members of the Data Team, counselor Julie Gragg and first-grade teacher Kristin Harlor, started creating daily videos of themselves and one of their students modeling different self-regulation strategies. The short clips are posted on the staff google drive so that teachers can use them in class.

The principal is also started including self-regulation activities in his daily morning message to students.

Check out these examples of the videos, featuring students leading the activities –

Box Breathing

Hot Cocoa Breath

Elbows to Knees


The Data Shows Encouraging Trends

After focusing on building self-regulation skills to address the challenge of physical aggression on the playground, the Data Team saw some really encouraging data. As shown on the graphs below, overall referrals were reduced significantly, and physical aggression referrals across the school were down almost 50%.








The Results of Focusing on Self-Regulation Skills

The data at Terminal Park illustrates what the staff reported – after engaging students in solutions and practicing self-regulation skills in adults and students – there is a sense that the school feels calmer, and time on the playground is safer and more fun for everyone. Data Team members also noticed that there is now language about self-regulation incorporated throughout the school day at all grade levels. And, students have discovered a new interest in making videos to help their whole community improve their skills!



Download our self-regulation activities card deck – a free, PDF download that includes 60 illustrated self-regulation activities! Available in four languages.