For teachers, encountering students in the classroom that have experienced trauma can be a challenging experience. While it is difficult to understand what these students may be going through, it is important for teachers to become aware of the effects trauma can have and develop strategies for supporting them.
We’ll explore trauma-informed teaching strategies - techniques designed to recognize and address the individual needs of students affected by trauma - and offer practical examples of how they can be implemented in the classroom.
We will also provide resources for faculty and staff looking to adapt these strategies to their own teaching style.
What is Trauma?
Trauma is an emotional response to events or experiences that overwhelm an individual's sense of control and make them feel helpless.
Traumatic events can be caused by a single event, such as physical abuse, natural disaster, or chronic stress from a series of traumatic events over time.
The effects of trauma on individuals range from physical ailments to psychological issues to social problems. It can lead to difficulty focusing and paying attention in the classroom, anxiety and depression, and disruptive behavior.
For students with trauma, it can also have a negative impact on their ability to learn new information and build relationships with peers or adults.
The Effects of Trauma in the Classroom
Trauma can have a dramatic and lasting impact on students in the classroom. It can cause physical, psychological, and social issues that affect their ability to learn in a traditional academic setting.
Anxiety and depression may become more common as well as difficulty focusing or paying attention.
Traumatized students often engage in disruptive behaviors such as talking out of turn or walking out of class. This behavior is often caused by feeling overwhelmed with new information or not being able to handle the demands of school.
In some cases, trauma can lead to an inability to retain knowledge due to cognitive deficits resulting from traumatic experiences. Social skills may also be affected because many traumatized children lack appropriate coping mechanisms for interpersonal situations, which makes it difficult for them to form relationships with peers and adults alike.
The effects of trauma are far-reaching and need to be addressed when teaching students who have experienced trauma so they can succeed academically despite any emotional difficulties they might face in the classroom environment.
What are Trauma-Informed Teaching Strategies?
Trauma-informed teaching strategies are designed to create an understanding and supportive learning environment for students who have experienced trauma.
These strategies involve recognizing the impact of trauma on a student's ability to learn while addressing the student’s individual needs in order to create a safe and positive learning environment.
This includes building trust, providing consistency, creating safety, addressing behavior in context, focusing on strengths, emphasizing resilience, and being aware of self-care when dealing with students who have experienced trauma.
When implementing these strategies, it is important to remember that they should be tailored towards each individual student’s needs.
Examples of using these strategies include demonstrating empathy and understanding; providing choice; allowing for positive outlets for emotions such as art or music; having a designated “safe space” within the classroom; offering calming techniques like deep breathing exercises or mindfulness activities; and providing consistent positive reinforcement for appropriate behaviors.
Key Components ofTrauma-Informed Teaching Strategies
Trauma-informed teaching strategies are designed to create an understanding and supportive learning environment that is tailored to the individual student's needs.
These strategies aim to build trust, provide consistency, create safety, address behavior in context, focus on strengths, and emphasize resilience.
Teachers should be aware of their own reactions when addressing a student’s trauma-triggered behaviors and also practice self-care.
Building trust involves...
Showing empathy and being patient while allowing students some independence in decisions related to their learning.
Providing consistency includes having rules that are applied fairly as well as positive reinforcement for appropriate behaviors.
Creating safety means having a physical space where they feel safe such as a designated area or using calming techniques.
Addressing behavior in context requires teachers to recognize how trauma may affect the way students behave or learn.
Focusing on strengths helps teachers identify what challenges each student has faced with respect so they can help them achieve success.
Finally, emphasizing resilience helps foster hope for the future by recognizing any progress made despite difficulties experienced due to past traumas.
Examples of Using These Strategies in Action
When using trauma-informed teaching strategies, it is important to focus on creating a safe environment for the student and responding in ways that build trust.
Teachers can demonstrate empathy and understanding by validating the student’s feelings, providing choice when possible, and allowing outlets for positive emotions.
Other strategies include avoiding power struggles with students where possible, setting clear limits on behavior while maintaining respect for the individual, following through consistently with consequences when necessary, and recognizing successes no matter how small.
For example, suppose a teacher notices a student displaying disruptive behaviors due to their trauma history. In that case, they could provide them with an opportunity to take a break or have some quiet time if needed. This will help create an atmosphere of understanding while reinforcing expectations of appropriate behavior in the classroom.
Resources for Implementing and Adapting these Strategies Through Strobel Education
At Strobel Education, we believe it's crucial for teachers to understand how trauma effects students' brains and be able to provide the necessary support to foster a sense of well-being and create a climate of compassion and inclusion.
We offer guidance on how to use these teaching methods effectively, including our Trauma-Informed Online Course, which includes a structured approach for understanding trauma and its effects on students. It gives you specific strategies that support even your most challenging students.
Or some prefer an onsite training with faculty members to provide them with the resources and support for implementing trauma-informed teaching strategies. Strobel Education offers a variety of services, ranging from workshops and trainings on trauma-informed teaching strategies to individual consultations with professionals who specialize in this area.
We provide guidance on creating a safe environment within the classroom, understanding student behavior related to trauma, strategies for addressing disruptive behaviors that may arise due to trauma, as well as advice and techniques for self-care.
In addition, we offer an array of resources, such as books, articles, and modeled lessons that help faculty understand how best to implement these strategies in their classrooms. With this wide range of support available at Strobel Education, faculty can confidently apply these approaches in order to create an optimal learning environment for all students, regardless of their experiences with trauma.
COVID-19 has highlighted how trauma and adversity can impact our students’ lives, behavior, and academic success.
Teaching with a trauma-informed approach is essential for addressing the ever-growing needs of our students in the classroom. Through various strategies and approaches outlined in this blog post, teachers can create a safe and supportive environment for their students that promotes student resilience and competency.
At Strobel Education LLC, we are committed to providing teachers with the strategies and resources needed to ensure their classrooms become trauma-informed learning environments.
We understand the unique challenges posed by COVID-19 on educators and strive to provide access to comprehensive resources to support students during these difficult times. To learn more about our services or get started with professional development today, please contact us at [email protected].
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