Before We Begin…
It is inevitable that you will encounter students who are dealing with trauma. Unfortunately, it is just the reality of life. Trauma comes in many sizes, shapes, and forms, and it is likely that “Forty-five percent of students had at least one ACE”, where an ACE is an adverse childhood experience that affects mental and physical health as adults (Souers pages 17 and 20).
This is as of 2016 when Kristen Souers wrote “Fostering Resilient Learners”, and this number may be even higher as families and children experience trauma related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While so many have trauma, these students are incredibly gifted and brilliant in their own individual ways. It is up to us if we uncover the learner in them, or if they fall into the cracks.
While nearly half of your students are likely to have some form of trauma, it is also important to know that you cannot know every detail about your students’ lives. Somebody, whether that is the student themselves, a parent, relative, friend, or even another teacher, would have to come and tell you those details.
Now that we have a basic idea about trauma in the classroom, how do we foster resilience in our students as science learners?
Regular Practices for Fostering Resiliency in the Classroom!
I would argue that the most essential piece in fostering resiliency in the classroom is practicing effective communication! Too often, teachers, and people in general, will listen, then they will respond and resolve. What more is there to it than that? It doesn’t seem too far off from what you do, right?
There are three more vital steps to effective communication that we tend to skip over. Here they are:
(Souers 79 and 80)
These six steps are outlined in Souers book on page 79 and 80, but I will detail the three we often miss again here. In steps two and three, it is essential to ensure the person knows that you think that their perspective and their feelings are important, and that they are valid and acknowledged. These two steps are often missed but take very little time to do.
After we respond, it is also essential to complete step 5, which is repair. Repair is even more often missed in the classroom, and that is simply acknowledging that something happened and working to ensure both parties have a clear understanding. This step ensures both the student and the teacher are on the same page and helps to prevent the upset from occurring again.
Modeling these steps in the classroom may be the only opportunity students have to see them! It helps students to develop as people with good communication skills as they go off into the world.
Other general practices in the classroom to foster resiliency are outlined on page 103 of Souers’ book! These include:
- Assigned seating – this tells students that they belong there and that they have their own place in the classroom.
- Posting pictures – posting pictures of students around the classroom helps students to feel more at home in the classroom. This can be a really great first week of school project, where students make a small poster about themselves with pictures on it to display around the classroom!
- Notes/calls home – too often teachers send a note or call home in a negative context. Send them in a positive context, and much more frequently than in a negative context. Even simple emails or notes saying “your student did really well in class today!”, or “your student asked a brilliant question in class and we had a great discussion from it!”. These little notes home, which take you mere seconds to send or write, sends the message to your students that you see them and care about them, that they are important to your classroom!
- Routines – having routine in the classroom, whatever that may look like for you, helps students to know exactly what to expect when they walk into the classroom! Some examples are in the graphic below!
Do you have more ideas about what to do day to day in the classroom to help make students feel at home and ready to learn? Leave a comment below!
How to make sure your cup isn’t empty!
I am sure that it is not a surprise to you that teaching is a demanding job. Teachers have a crazy amount of responsibilities and likely 150 students to teach and encourage and care for. The job is often not complete when the lights are off and the door is shut, as there is always something to make or plan or buy. But what about you?
You cannot pour from an empty cup. You cannot keep giving and giving to those around you if you never take time to recharge and refill your cup!
The “empty cup” is sometimes inevitable and will have you drained and wanting to hide in a storage closet. However, it is important to do what you can to t make sure that you are getting what you need, too!
Check out this video – Hank Green outlines some self care strategies as well as why self care is important at all!
Self care looks different for everybody. There is not a one size fits all self care strategy, which is frustrating when looking for something that works for you. Experiment, try several things, and find out what works for you!
Also, as Hank said, self care for one mood or situation might look different than for another. But it is still important to practice self care even when you feel happy and productive! Some of my favorite self care strategies are:
- When I am overwhelmed or anxious
- I often clean! I find that a clean space will help to clear my head and I an become productive again.
- I also make lists. I am the type that needs to see all of the tasks out in front of me. This in and of itself is overwhelming, but it helps me to prioritize and chunk my tasks into smaller, less overwhelming lists.
- I also just take a moment to remember to breathe. I also remind myself how little this seemingly large task actually matters! In 10 years, will this task be in your mind at all? The answer is likely no.
- When I am feeling good
- I love to paint my nails when I am feeling good already. It feels almost like a cherry on top of a good day.
- Make/buy coffee! I survive on coffee, but when I feel that I could use an extra treat, I switch it up and have a latte or add some fun ingredients.
- I always make sure to sleep 7-8 hours. Sleep is not something I will sacrifice (unless a situation truly warrants it), because I cannot function and be of service to those around me unless I (literally) recharge my brain!
What are some of your go-to self care moves? How do you care for yourself to recharge for the next days and tasks ahead?
That is all for now, see you next time!