…”we must also celebrate the power of resilience. Many of us have found a way to survive the not-OK” (Souers & Hall, 2016 p. 23).
This quote is powerful because even though many of us have experienced trauma and (the “not-OK” things throughout life, this reminds us that we can still feel connected to one another through the resiliency brought about by various experiences. While students shouldn’t have to “pick theirselves up by their bootstraps,” their resiliency should be recognized- even if our students are not handing themselves within their upstairs brain, they too are quite resilient. How can we empower students to let them see it too?
How can educators foster resilient learners in the classroom?
- Love thyself <3: This is underrated, but a crucial starting point to implementing effective trauma informed teaching. To be able to have grace, patience, understanding, and compassion with our students, we must extend that same love to ourselves.
- “Be true to you” (Souers & Hall, 2016 p. 45)
- Get connected to your sense of self
- Becoming grounded in your identity
- Hone in on key aspects of yourself that can’t be taken away from you
- Develop a personal mission statement that is reflected in your teaching practices
2. Make it known your classroom is a safe space: This is a message we should strive to deliver through our actions and by modeling. It really is not enough to verbally tell students that your classroom is a place where they are always welcome, we have to allow students to see that through our actions. Even a simple comment to a student recognizing their unique personal qualities and strengths, empathizing with their struggles, and letting them know you are happy that they are in your class can sometimes make all the difference to help influence calming and restoring the student’s state of mind. Teachers can also incorporate “safe spaces” within the classroom itself. These can be areas that have a variety of tools (bean bags, books, fidget toys, etc.) to help influence our students to regulate their behaviors in a productive way.
3. Knowing the learners in your classroom: So many ways to go about bettering our students lives in some way often times comes back to knowing your students. If we know our students personalities, tendencies, behaviors, and habits of mind, then we can be better equipped to be able to recognize when students are not being themselves. Even though we might not know why or what is causing these behaviors, we are there to witness the effects of them. When students are in their downstairs brain they are in fight, flight, or freeze mode. If we strive to stay connected with our students and their lives, then not only can we better hone in on their mental state of being, but we also can more more readily prepared to provide them with the proper tools and appropriate ways to influence them back into their regulatory state of control in their upstairs brain.
“As educators, we have an obligation to truly understand how students learn and what may be affecting their capacity to learn (Souers & Hall, 2016, p. 117).
Why is this important?
- By becoming more aware of the complexity of trauma and how it manifests- It is important that we infuse language that speaks against the stereotypes that associates trauma and failure at school or in other areas of life. We should be careful of the language we use as it relates to these topics because we don’t want to further perpetuate the negative stigmas attached with mental health and trauma. It is important to recognize these aspects so we can have discussions around these topics in a productive manner that allows students to feel considered and ultimately safe.
- It is important to infuse a trauma-sensitive pedagogy into the classroom because: “Even if you don’t believe your efforts are reaping much a result, keep in mind that you are planting seeds” (Souers & Hall, 2016 p. 131). Our efforts can still have an impact on student’s lives down the road even if we don’t see an impact in the ‘now’. This should give us hope and motivation to stay consistent with these strategies that come from us staying grounded in our cement blocks.
- It is important to also recognize as our students as their person first and foremost, and not let their story overshadow who they are. Students are more than their traumatic experience and are not defined by it.
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