In the book, “Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a trauma-Sensitive Classroom,” by Kristen Souers and Pete Hall, is all about a growing issue– childhood trauma, and the effects that is has on both learning and teaching. Souers and Hall write on teaching educators, much like yourself, to create a trauma-centered learning environment for your students!
Understanding What Trauma Is and How It Hinders Learning
Childhood trauma is something that happens a lot more than most of us even realize. Something that happens so frequently, that two thirds of children can identify at least one traumatic experience they’ve had before the age of 16. According to Understanding Child Trauma, some reasons for trauma may include:
- Mental or physical abuse
- Community or school violence
- Witnessing or experiencing domestic violence
- Sudden loss of a loved one
- Refugee or war experience
- Military related
- Serious accident or life-threatening illness
More than likely, many of these reasons on this list aren’t always taken into consideration when we hear the phrase, “childhood trauma.” But how do all of these reasons for trauma hinder our students learning? In a study done by Helping Traumatized Children Learn, it’s been shown that childhood traumatic experiences can diminish concentration, memory, and the organizational and language abilities that are needed for students to succeed in the classroom. Not only does it hinder learning, it also hinders classroom behavior as well. Typically children that experience trauma, think of school as a battleground. Many of the classroom behavioral problems, stem from the same issues that made the academic troubles.
Building Strong Relationships and Creating a Safe Learning Place
Building strong relationships with your students is so important. Strong relationships encourage positive learning environments, creates classroom community, and the greatest investment we can make with our students. Investing in our students means that we’re able to help them grow in and out of the classroom, we build trust, and make them feel loved– which are all components some of our may never feel at home. Some ways that we can create a safe learning place for our students is:
- Transparency in the classroom– as a teacher, you’re still human! If you don’t know the answer to something, just be honest with your students.
- Individually chat with your students– speaking with students as individuals is one of the greatest ways to start to build relationships.
- Don’t put out students voices– allow your students to be heard; everyone wants to be seen and heard. Let them advocate for themselves and for others.
Every child deserves a champion– an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.–Rita F. Pierson
How Can WE Help?
The video below, by the CDC, explains the effects of children with adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and how it plays a roll on health and well-being. This video helps us to understand, recognize, and prevent ACEs!