The Importance of Fostering Resilience in Students

Nearly 40% of students in the US have been exposed to some sort of traumatic event.

This is troubling because when children are exposed to complex or acute drama the brain shifts its operation from development to stress response, which can have lasting repercussions. Toxic stress can damage the architecture of the developing brain, leading to disrupted circuits and a weakened foundation for future learning and health (pg. 21 of Fostering Resilient Learners)

The video above shows how violence can affect a child including the long lasting consequences that violence and trauma has on children.

How will we know if a student is experiencing trauma?

Students dealing with trauma respond to their situations often with fight, flight, or freeze actions (pg. 29 in Fostering Resilient Learners) The diagram below shows examples of what this may look like.

As teachers, we need to help these kids by fostering resilience.

What does this mean? Why is it important?

Resilience: the process of handling stress and recovering from trauma or adversity

Resilient people are able to utilize their skills and strengths to cope and recover from problems and challenges. They understand that setbacks happen and that sometimes life is hard and painful. They still experience the emotional pain, grief, and sense of loss that comes after a tragedy, but their mental outlook allows them to work through such feelings and recover. Resilience gives people the power to tackle problems head on.

Ways to foster resilience in the classroom

  • Cool Down: Create a cool down corner with pillows, or soft music. Kids can go to this corner when they become upset
  • Create Connection: Do peer mentoring activities where students get paired up, and share something they know, a hobby, a favorite show they are watching, etc. This will allow relationships to be built which is key to resilience.
  • Encourage Progress: Have students set goals or set class goals. Setting and achieving different goals allows students to see the results of their hard work.


Souers, K., & Hall, P. A. (2016). Fostering resilient learners: strategies for creating a trauma-sensitive classroom. Moorabbin, Victoria: Hawker Brownlow Education.


  1. Get post Shelby! I really enjoyed the visual that you used for “fight, flight and freeze”. I also talked about that in my post and it was interesting to see how we used different visuals. The thing that I really like was the “ways to foster resilience in the classroom”. I thought that you proposed a concrete way to remember how to foster resilience. Have you thought about using the phrase “Cheer on Progress” instead of “Encourage Progress”? That way there is alliteration! Great post!

    • Hi Mason! I think the fact that we used different visuals to demonstrate “fight, flight, freeze” goes to show how many different examples of each action there are that can occur in students experiencing trauma. As future teachers we must be aware of all these actions, so us posting different visuals is great exposure!! I also like the phrase “cheer on progress” much better than “encourage progress.” I’ll start using that, Thanks!

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