Fostering Care Within A Traumatized Classroom

What Do We Mean by Trauma?

As educators, we must prepare for trauma. It will be something we will face in our careers and continue till the day we retire. It will be present every year and is something we must embrace versus ignore. Trauma is when individuals experience such powerful and dangerous events that their minds cannot properly cope and deal with them (page 15). It’s a real concept that is very prevalent in many classrooms today. It doesn’t only affect students mentally, but physically and socially. According to Hall, the children we encounter are resilient and with positive learning environments, they can learn to grow and succeed.

How Can We Determine Trauma in A Student?

A common method used to determine a child’s level of trauma is called the ACE score. This refers to the level of Adverse Childhood Experiences that a person has had. Adverse Childhood Experiences can refer to physical or emotional abuse afflicted someone, growing up in poverty, encountering traumatic events, or having family members pass. There is a wide range of different aspects that can factor into an ACE score. This is why we must consider trauma as being unique to a student. Not all trauma is the same so it must not be treated the same.

Why does Trauma Even Matter?

Trauma matters due to the fact that it can have such a negative impact on our students’ lives. Trauma leads students’ brains to form new connections that focus on fight or flight responses. This deters them from their brains focusing on growing into young scientists. The 4 f’s that students go through in response to trauma are fight, flight, freeze, and faint. These behaviors are directly correlated to the classroom as the students cannot have the ability to shut it off when they come in. This often leads to behavioral issues within the classroom that can severely limit their educational experience. So trauma matters because it can have a direct effect on the quality of education that a student receives IF left untreated. There are ways we can give our students strategies to help them cope with their own personal trauma in their own ways.

How do We Help Students Who Experience Trauma?

To help our students, we must understand the concept of resiliency. What is resiliency? It is the ability for our students to break through and be the incredible learners we know them to be. This is something rooted within our students that if we can promote will let our learners shine bright! We must encourage them to be resilient and empower them to become the people they want to be!

Some Strategies to Help

  • Breathe! This can be one of the most healing and calming things for a student to do in a stressful situation. Breathing techniques can help alleviate and ground students fast. This is due to our breathing patterns being directly linked with our minds. Think about it, when an animal is scared, it breathes heavily, even if it’s not running. Our breath is connected to our sympathetic nervous system which is why breathing exercises can help soothe the mind.
  • Be Aware of Triggers! Having a teacher and student on board with things that trigger them can help prevent stressful situations from happening. The best way to not have stress in the classroom is by preventing it from happening. This can be done by identifying triggers and limiting their presence within the class.
  • Listen, Reassure, Validate, Respond, Repair, Resolve! Directly from Souers and Hall 2017, this is an important guideline to consider while working with a student that’s endured trauma. We must consider the emotional well-being of our students every day and think from a nonbiased standpoint on them. We must always ensure we are doing what’s best for our students!

In Summary…

Trauma is prevalent in modern society, this in turn means students who have experienced trauma are also prevalent. As educators, we must recognize this aspect of our jobs as something to embrace. We are given the opportunity not only to grow our students intellectually but can give them strategies to help them better themselves. This is why teaching is such a hard job, it’s people’s work. We always will have a different student with their own set of trauma. They will require their own unique strategies and this can be very tiring on a teacher. However, in my opinion, the reward is just too great when we are allowed the opportunity to help those students we care about.

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8 Responses to Fostering Care Within A Traumatized Classroom

  1. wahlsc says:

    Hey Nate,
    I’m glad you mentioned the 4 f’s. These are important for teachers to know because this is how some students with trauma respond in the classroom. Being able to identify these responses in students can help us care for our students. As for your question, I think that it’s important that we take time for ourselves during the school year. When we come home we need to do things for ourselves. Taking time to do the things we love will help recharge our batteries to allow us to provide the best experiences the next day.

  2. wahlsc says:

    Hey Rachel,
    Thank you for your feedback! I think it’s awesome that you enjoyed reading over the ACE scores. Ace scores can be such a valuable tool for teachers to prepare themselves for certain students. It is a crucial piece of information that can be very helpful in understanding the emotions of a child. To accommodate students with different types of trauma, we need to know our students. This takes time and work but that’s part of being a teacher. That’s why the job is so hard! However, doing all of this can be so rewarding when we can positively impact our students’ lives.

  3. wahlsc says:

    Hey McKenna,
    I am glad you enjoyed my post. Being aware of triggers and making those key strategies to help bring down students is a must in this career. I think that we as teachers have such a large responsibility not just for the learning of the students but for their social well-being of them. I will definitely add more graphics to the blog. For some reason, the computer is not uploading my photos onto the blog post. I am working right now trying to resolve this, thank you!

  4. wahlsc says:

    Hey Grace,
    Thank you for your feedback! I appreciate hearing another student’s opinion on this important matter. I like how you mentioned how important it is for us to help hear and care for our students who experience trauma. To answer your question, I think we could ID the triggers by just being observant in the classroom. Being in tune with our students will allow us to be in tune with their emotions.

  5. creedero says:

    Hi Steve!
    I really liked that you included ACE scores when discussing trauma in the classroom – it wasn’t something I mentioned in my blog but I think it’s important. I especially liked that you mentioned that not all trauma is the same nor should be treated the same. How would you accommodate for students with different traumatic experiences? I know it would be hard when you have a lot of students too.

  6. bantznf says:

    Hey Steve! I really enjoyed your blog post. You talked about the importance of breathing and awareness of triggers, and also the 4 f’s, fight, flight, freeze, or faint. These responses are definitely sometimes carried out in the classroom. A question I have for you is, how can we as teachers care for students, and also help them with their trauma, while also caring for our own mental health?

  7. mill1745 says:

    Hi Steven! I really liked your blog post and how you addressed a lot of key things in it. I liked the strategies you included, like breathing and being aware of triggers. We can’t be aware of everything that might trigger our students, but with social media helping people to become more aware, and through communicating with students and their parents, being cognizant of triggers is doable. One suggestion I have for you is to include more graphics and colors in your blog! These can help to engage the reader even more and help to really drive home some of your points.

  8. karlocge says:

    Steven,
    You made a lot of good points here, and I am especially glad that you pointed out why trauma even matters in the first place. Until people can understand this, they will not be able to see the need for classrooms that help to heal and care for those who have experienced trauma. One of the strategies you listed was identifying triggers for students, which I totally agree with. How could you practically do this, and what resources could you use to do this?

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