“Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.” – Haim Ginnot
As teachers, one of the biggest jobs that we have with our students is being a good role model and a support system for them to rely on. The question is, when students have so much going on in their lives outside of the classroom, how can we be sure we are giving them a good support system?
Resilience is the ability to look past your problems and handle stress better. It is crucial to foster this in your students so that you can better optimize their learning environment.When discussing resilience in learners, we are mainly talking about dealing with trauma.
According to the book, “Fostering Resilient Learners” by Kristin Souers, the first step is accepting these truths about trauma:
- Trauma is real
- Trauma is prevalent
- Trauma is toxic to the brain and can affect development
As referenced by Souers, an ACE is an “adverse childhood experience.” ACEs can mean a range of traumatic experiences. Some examples are:
- Substance abuse in the home
- Mental illness in the home
- Witnessing domestic violence
- Parental separation
- Suicidal household member
- Death of a loved one
- Parental incarceration
- Experience of (psychological, physical, sexual) abuse or (emotional, physical) neglect
As a future science teacher, to me, recognizing ACEs in students means a better understanding of mental health in school systems. Usually what behaviors a student exhibits in the classroom resembles what they see at home. Disrupting the class or angry behaviors could be a call for help. As a teacher, it is your job to recognize this and figure out the next steps to help.
Souers has stated that she developed a set of three questions to help her stay focused on the students that she works with:
- What is my role?
- Who am I working for?
- What is about to drive my behavior?
Keeping a list of questions such as these can help you to remind yourself why you are helping students with ACEs and that what you are doing is for the students’ benefit.
The video above is a short five minute film produced by the CDC about how to prevent ACEs in students and how you can facilitate stable, nurturing relationships and safe environments.