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!
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.