Fostering Resilience in the Science Classroom

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!

Trauma

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:

  1. Trauma is Real
  2. Trauma is Prevalent. Much more common than many people care to admit
  3. Trauma is toxic to the brain and can affect development and learning.
  4. Students must be supported with or without trauma.
  5. 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!

Self-Awareness

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:

  1. Listen
  2. Reassure
  3. Validate
  4. Respond
  5. Repair
  6. Resolve

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.

https://twitter.com/laurenvscience/status/1387594621090504707
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8 Responses to Fostering Resilience in the Science Classroom

  1. vajentle says:

    Hi Brooklyn! Thank you so much for responding to my post! I think that self-awareness is a very important aspect in fostering resilience in the classroom. Allowing my studnets to reflect on their actions and giving them time to think and breathe after making decisions is a great way to help them become more self-aware. Thanks again for replying to my post!

  2. vajentle says:

    Hi Lauren! Thank you so much for replying to my post. I would love to include mindfulness in my future classroom, I think it is a really important tactic to help foster resilience with our students and as teachers! I think it would be great to include videos and mindfulness techniques such as these before stressful activities in the classroom such as tests and other assessment types. Thanks so much for your response again!

  3. vajentle says:

    Hi Riley! Thank you so much for replying to my post, you were so kind with your words I really appreciate it! I would really like to incorporate the mindfulness video in my classroom, I would probably include them when we are doing a stressful activity such as a test or other assessment. I think mindfulness is such an important aspect of resilience! Thanks again for your response!

  4. vajentle says:

    Hi Evan! Thanks so much for replying to my post! I think that utilizing these videos will help my students to use these techniques in and out of the classroom!

  5. Evan says:

    Lauren,
    Great post! I especially liked the mindfulness video you chose. How do you plan to ensure that students have the strategies to be mindful even when not in your classroom?

  6. curtisrc says:

    Lauren,

    First off, wow…your tweet is so powerful and surely hits the nail on the head. This IS everyones issue because just like the saying goes it takes a “village to raise raise a child.” Even if we aren’t directly involved, we are still involved to some degree if one of OUR students is going through trauma/traumatic experiences. I think this also connects well with your bullet point: “1. Trauma is real.” This speaks to validating people’s truths and lived experiences. This is why it is so important to create a safe space for students s0 they know that their truths will be validated, respected, and heard. I also liked the video on mindfulness. Is that something you plan to incorporate in your teaching? If so how would you incorporate it? Great blog post!

  7. Lauren Colliver says:

    Hi Lauren,
    Great post on resilient learners! I really liked how you organized and addressed trauma, applications in the classroom, and the awareness both students and teachers need to have when dealing with and responding to trauma. Like you note, trauma is prevalent and effects students and teachers. I particularly liked how you included the video about mindfulness and its usefulness in the classroom. Do you think this is something you would implement regularly in your classroom, and if so, at what point in the class would you guide students on mindfulness (i.e. beginning, before a test, end, ect)?

  8. Brooklyn Wilson says:

    Lauren, Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful blog post! I really liked how you highlighted the importance of self-awareness. In your future classroom, what are specific ways you will encourage both your students and yourself to have better self-awareness?

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