26 September 2021

Design the physical environment to support self regulation

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Collaboratively develop a safe and caring culture and climate’

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Design for connection

Design for connection

“The environment needs to be conducive to you making a connection so that mutual trust, respect, all those things, can occur.”

Consider sensory sensitivities

Consider sensory sensitivities

Consider how the organisation of the learning space could be a trigger for certain behaviours.

Discuss your ideas with students and develop agreed solutions.

Possible triggers

Possible solutions

Resources or materials difficult to find

Label and colour code resources

Unpredictable noisy entry into the classroom

Develop classroom entry protocols

Cluttered chaos of bags and coats

Establish a protocol for how bags will be managed

Classroom layout keeps changing without warning or collaboration

Discuss changes with students and agree on a time frame for changes

Reduce anxiety

Reduce anxiety

Reduce the stress of moving into new spaces by transferring specific furniture or items of importance to the learner.

Create peace corners

Create peace corners

Involve students in designing quiet, safe spaces to retreat to so they can calm and organise themselves.

Self assessment

Self assessment

Are these strategies emerging, partly in place, or established in your practice?

Illustrate your response with examples from your own teaching.

  • My relationships with students are warm and caring, reflecting the values of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga.
  • Visual images and resources reflect and celebrate cultural diversity.
  • The learning space allows ease of access and movement, and minimises crowding and distraction.
  • Equipment and materials are clearly labelled, and there are established routines for students to collect and return them.
  • There is a neutral space available where students can go to calm down if they need to.

Source: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga (opens in a new tab/window)

Useful resources

Useful resources


Teaching for positive behaviour: Self assessment tool

Publisher: Positive Behaviour for Learning

Download PDF


De-escalation spaces: Helping students manage emotions

Publisher: Edutopia

Visit website

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Collaboratively develop a safe and caring culture and climate”:

Return to the guide “Behaviour and learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Behaviour and learning

Strategies for action: