October 19, 2022 by Emily Shields

My name is Emily Shields, LISW-CP, a community child and family therapist using Conscious Discipline as the foundation of my practice.  I’ve spent the last 20 years working with dysregulated children and their families to identify and teach missing skills.  I’ve worked in home-based early intervention, head start, a hospital-based assessment clinic, and private practice. I have felt the power of families and I have felt the power of educators. I value the community approach collaborating with parents, teachers, and other helping professionals. My passion is seeing a struggling child through a different lens, so that I can get the message their behavior is communicating and share this skill with others.

Our work is hard and not always valued the way it should be, and the complexities and challenges continue piling up. October is here. The “back to school honeymoon” is over. The novelty of the new school year has evaporated. Expectations have been established and learning is well underway. We are beyond six weeks into the school year and studies show that it takes a minimum of six weeks of dedicated daily practice to create peer to peer connections, teacher to peer connections, and teacher to parent connections.  The children who are connection reluctant will take longer.   This is the time of year where the struggles become apparent and the overwhelmed feelings and exhaustion of our most dedicated educators is felt.  How do we manage these feelings and continue following our passion to help all children be successful?

Here are helpful takeaways:

  • Building relationships is a 180-day commitment, not just something for the beginning of the school year.
  •  The most helpful “strategy” for your most challenging student(s) is to view their behaviors as a call for help so you can stay calm and offer help rather than punish.
  •  A disconnected child is a disruptive child. Success is built in relationships. Find one thing you have in common with a challenging child to start building a meaningful relationship.
  •  Adopt the mindset that everyone is doing their very best in this moment with the skills they have at this time. This goes for yourself, students, parents, colleagues, and administrators.
  •  For fresh insight and new perspective, listen to some educator podcasts on the way to and from school or during exercise. I suggest Real Talk for Real Teachers with Dr. Becky Bailey, author of Conscious Discipline and the Trauma Informed Educators Network Podcast.

Thank you for making a difference in the lives of children.


The Elevating Teachers blog is a platform designed to elevate educator voices. It’s a space to share stories and tips for maintaining a sense of purpose and wellbeing in and out of the classroom.

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