Sts’ailes Community School psychologist Angela Murphy was back at work on Tuesday, July 23, but she wasn’t there alone.
Standing outside one of the classrooms with her two dogs, Zane and Draper, Murphy was waiting to share her newest book with kids in the First Nation’s “Read and Rec” summer program: Speak Up, Wonder Pup.
“It’s giving kids the skills. It’s just getting the ‘I-message’ out for kids.” Murphy said about the book reading, while kids played with her youngest dog Zane on the concrete outside.
Zane is the hero of the Wonder Pup book, which aims to inform kids, parents and teachers about self-regulation using the I-message — a way of teaching kids how to stand up for themselves when people do things they don’t like.
|Zane, the hero of Angela Murphy’s “Wonder Pup” books, came out to Sts’ailes Community School Tuesday for a book reading. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)|
Throughout the book, Zane learns to express himself using the I-message: saying the name of the dog he’s speaking to, expressing that he doesn’t like it when they do the thing that bothers him and then saying “stop” in what the Draper’s character describes as “a voice that doesn’t spike.”
“The I-message is giving language to stand up for yourself in different situations,” Murphy said. “You’ll see in the book, I tried to get Zane to do it the wrong way twice, and then finally he gets it the right way. And Draper is his teacher who teaches him”
As a school psychologist, Murphy said, she has been teaching the I-message to kids for 12 years, but had never been able to find a book to go with that lesson.
Speak Up, Wonder Pup is the first of 10 books Murphy is planning to write — and all ones that she hopes teachers, parents and counsellors will find useful for their kids.
“The way I want to organize it, is what would I teach in September? The I-message,” she said. “It helps with classroom management, behaviour management for kids.”
In October, Murphy said she would teach mindful breathing to her students. That will be the inspiration for her second book: Breath Up, Wonder Pup.
“I can see it in classrooms especially,” Murphy said about the series, adding that it can also be used as a fun book for kids to read at home as well.
“When we’re using a common language between school and home, over the years, I’ve noticed that’s really helpful,” Murphy said. “Kids can connect that way.
“If there’s a problem with students on the playground or siblings at home, or even with an adult, the first thing I would ask is ‘Have you tried the I-message?”
On Tuesday at Sts’ailes Community School, Murphy was giving her first reading for the book — and as a former teacher, she couldn’t help but turn it into a lesson.
Some of the kids, as students at Sts’ailes Community School, had already been exposed to Murphy’s I-message teachings. Throughout the reading, Murphy asked the kids what they thought different pictures in the books represented, as well as what “zones of regulation” each of the dogs were in.
(The zones are defined by colour, and help kids understand their energy levels. Green is the calm, confident and happy zone, which people should aim to be in.)
After the book reading, the audience was divided into groups to practice the I-message for themselves.
|Angela Murphy made each student practice saying the “I message” to Draper before handing them an autographed copy of “Speak Up Wonder Pup” during her book reading at Sts’ailes Community School. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)|
Each student was asked to say it the wrong way twice — just as Zane had done in the book, once too soft and once too aggressive — and then finish by using the technique the proper way.
Kids also got an opportunity to try their I-message skills on Draper and Zane, as they waited in line for their autographed copy of the book.
The Sts’ailes event was Murphy’s first reading for Speak Up, Wonder Pup, but only a month in to the release of the book, she already has more lined up.
On Wednesday, Aug. 14, Murphy will be at the summer time literacy event Kids in the Hall in Chilliwack for another reading of Speak Up, Wonder Pup.
That event will go from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Tzeachten Hall (45855 Promontory Rd.).