According to Souers and Hall, resiliency in the classroom is defined as the building of strong relationships and creation of a safe classroom environment to help students learn at higher levels. Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma Sensitive Classroom provides all teachers a guide to help develop their classrooms into safe and resilient environment! The writers outline different categories where which we can develop strategies in these areas to help teachers and students to be more resilient in the classroom. In this blog post, I will outline some of these categories Souers and Hall introduced, and give examples of how I plan to implement some of these strategies in my future classroom!
In this section, the writers describe what trauma looks like in the classroom and what ways are the best to respond to trauma that our students may face. It is important that teachers know the signs of trauma that students can exhibit and have a plan to support students in the ways specific to each students’ needs. Souers and Hall state, “Trauma is bigger than just a mental health issue, it’s everyone’s issue” (pg. 11). This quote from the book is a great representation of the mindset that teachers should have when considering trauma that their students have faced. The writers also describe ACEs, or “adverse childhood experiences” and five truths that teachers need to consider in order to make a plan to support their students with the impact of the events NOT the nature of it:
- Trauma is Real
- Trauma is Prevalent. Much more common than many people care to admit
- Trauma is toxic to the brain and can affect development and learning.
- Students must be supported with or without trauma.
- Children are resilient and can grow, learn, and succeed in a positive learning environment
Application to the Science Classroom
In my future classroom, I plan to use these five truths as a guideline to consider when I find a student might be exhibiting behavior that suggests they are dealing with trauma. It is important to be informed and prepared to support students. When potential controversial topics are discussed in class, such as evolution or climate change in a biology setting, this could be a triggering conversation where students with trauma might respond in a negative way; as the writers put it, they might enter the “downstairs” portion of their brain. It is up to us to be prepared and help our students re-enter the “upstairs” brain with support and calming tactics when our students become triggered or exhibit trauma-based behaviors.
A great resource to use when one of our students are exhibiting stressed behaviors is to show them this mindfulness video from GoNoodle. GoNoodle is a fantastic resource that is trusted by many when attempting to alleviate stress and anxiety in the classroom!
Another very important idea discussed in the book was self-awareness and how it is necessary to have for both students and teachers in the classroom. “Demeanor, approach, behaviors, volume, and presence affect how young people live, breathe, and perform in the classroom” (pg. 41). it is important that as teachers, we are able to help our students gain composure, while being composed ourselves. Teachers must be able to anticipate certain behaviors in order to eradicate them. Souers and Hall say, “if it’s predictable, it’s preventable.” The writers outline a 6-step action plan when helping our students to gain composure and become self-aware:
By following these simple six steps, we can help our students to gain composure and become self-aware of their behavior all the while staying composed ourselves.