Trauma Informed Teaching: How do we get there?

Teaching not only ourselves, but also our students on how to be resilient as science learners will better prepare them for scenarios they might encounter both inside and outside of the classroom. The study of science is a continuous, ongoing process that is constantly evolving with the emergence of new information. Similarly, adjusting how we deal with trauma in the classroom can also be considered a constantly changing practice. With a better understanding on how to create resilient science learners, students will be better prepared for the world they find themselves in.

In Fostering Resilient Learners, Kristin Souers and Peter A. Hall dive into how deeply trauma can impact a students’ ability to learn. By providing this insight, the authors also explain ways in which teachers themselves can alleviate difficult situations with the proper tools and strategies to guide them. To dive deep into what this means as educators, we need to ask ourselves: how will you help your students be more resilient as science learners?

Being forever-changed, not forever damaged

Trauma can effect students in many different ways. In Fostering Resilient Learners, the novel explains how an implicit bias of students being damaged should be reconsidered. Instead, students have experienced moment in their life that may leave them with a different perspective of the world around them. Instead of describing students as damaged members of society, we need to look at them as changed. By having this mindset, teachers are one step closer to building a better relationship with their student. Lesson plan idea: when learning about different topics such as climate change, engage your students with a socratic seminar. This will allow them to visibly witness the difference of perspectives, ideas, and solutions. Students will be able to understand how the experiences that each of them bring to the class shapes their viewpoints, allowing them to share their ideas in a controlled and mediated environment.

It’s ok not to be ok

Often times, teachers can have a fixed mindset on helping their students because they view them as less fortunate, challenged, or in need of guidance. However, this mindset can set teachers into a deficit thinking bubble where students become less humanized and more marginalized. As a teacher, it is important to teach our students that while it may be difficult to go through a traumatic experience, the individual themselves is not a “project” that needs “saving.” This is a person, with real and valid experiences who is dealing with them in the best way that they can. Having students understand that people are not something that needs fixing is important to instill in their thinking, because it provides them with a more humane lens on how to view their peers.

Teachers should make their students safe, supported, and empowered

Providing a safe environment for students will not only make them feel seen, but also set an example of what students should be doing for each other. Teachers who are able to provide a strong sense of security for their students have the ability to build a better connection with them. In Fostering Resilient Learners, the authors describe the importance of building relationships, implementing restorative practices, trauma-informed instruction, collaborating with families and communities, and cultivating resilience. This can all tie in with having students feel a sense of empowerment, especially within themselves. All teachers have the ability to instill these ideas in their students. Lesson plan idea: in the beginning of the semester, ask your students what you as a teacher can do to make them feel empowered in a science classroom setting. This will bring upon a discussion of how you can best support your students, while also seeing how individuality takes place in an academic environment.

Here is a link that shares another perspective on how we can foster resilient learners as educators!


  1. Hi Maddie, I enjoyed reading about the steps you see important in a teacher building a relationship with their student, and the tweet you included gave a great visual. I was wondering what you believe will be the most challenging parts of keeping all these steps in mind when working with your students?

    • I think that understanding how each student may need individualized care is definitely something to keep in mind. As an educator, being flexible and understanding are great qualities to have when working with students.

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