Trauma – Sensitive Classroom –> Resilient Learners

Kristin Souers in collaboration with Pete Hall created a book entitled “Fostering Resilient Learners – Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom”. This post will discuss trauma in the classroom and how to create an environment where all students feel supported and safe.

Trauma is defined in the book as “an exceptional experience in which powerful and dangerous events overwhelm a person’s capacity to cope”. Some helpful things that the authors pointed out right at the beginning of the book was

  • Trauma is real
  • Trauma is prevalent
  • Trauma is toxic to the brain

With these assumptions about trauma, it is important that our schools need to be prepared to support these students and understand that children are resilient and are able to grow, learn and succeed within a positive learning environment.

So, how do we support these students who have had an adverse childhood experience (ACE)?

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  1. Get to know your students, connect with them and realize that they are “more than their story”
    1. As educators, we may or may not know their “stories”, but that does not matter. What matters is that deficit thinking is avoided and the stories effects on the child.

2. Identify behaviors that are in alignment with the “downstairs brain”. (“Downstairs brain being the portion of the brain that is responsible for basic functions)

This can typically look like Flight, Fight or Freeze in the Classroom. It is important to recognize behaviors that could need a response from the teacher.

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3. “Shut Your Mouth and Take a Breath”

Doing this important step when reacting to a student gives educators time to gather their thoughts, reflect on how they want to respond in the best way possible. This strategy is often correlated with when a student is being hostile or aggressive but can be employed for any behavior that is out of the ordinary.

4. Encourage improvements

It is extremely important that when positive behaviors are observed that those are reinforced and supported.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Mason! This was an awesome! You give so many amazing tips on fostering resilience in students and handling their trauma in the classroom. I think it’s awesome that you explain why we need to encourage our kids and continue to provide positive feedback for their work and actions. I also love how you argue that we need to get to know our students as a person so can provide compassion to them when they might need it. You also provide help on dealing with outbursts in the classroom, but how might you deal with a student who is disengaged?

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