Understanding Trauma-informed Education

What is Trauma-informed Education?

Trauma-informed education or teaching is an understanding of how trauma can impact learning and behavior. To understand trauma-informed education better, let us first understand what is trauma.

What is trauma?

Trauma is the immediate feeling or reaction or an emotional response to a terrible event, accident, or any unwanted or unexpected turns in life. It is like a new experience that has occurred due to any kind of disaster in the series of events in life, which cannot be reversed but only forgotten or left behind. Trauma is in denial of that shock. Traumas can last a lifetime or even a few months, it is completely dependent on how the brain functions for a person, the willpower to embrace events, supportive family and friends, and self-healing.

Trauma can be caused by discrimination, bullying, poverty, community, or violence. Kids are most likely to forget and recover from a traumatic event after a few weeks or months. But repeated trauma or traumatic experiences can put the brain on high alert for the next threat, which is known as hypervigilance. Hypervigilance leads to anger, overreaction to simple events, self-doubt, lack of trust, and much more. The best example to understand this is the coronavirus pandemic, for some kids it was just a new experience that was acceptable, but for some kids, it was traumatic because of the study from home and almost feeling like bondage at home.

What are the three types of trauma?

  • Acute trauma which can result from a single unforgetable or irreversible event.
  • Chronic trauma which caused by repeated and prolonged events like bullying or abuse.
  • Complex trauma which is a result of varied and multiple traumatic events and gradually becomes a part of life, which can last for a lifetime.

What are the signs of trauma with students suffering in school?

Students suffering from trauma are usually very reserved and do not like to discuss it with others or even with teachers. Such students often require extra care, better understanding, emotional support, and personal attention. But it becomes difficult for a teacher to spot such students as they do not open up naturally about the suffering.

Potential signs of trauma that can be spotted by a teacher :

  • Sad Apperance
  • Unhappiness with life
  • Inappropriate social behavior.
  • Loss of temper.
  • Extreme introvertedness.
  • Easily annoyed and irritated by others and also displaying the same behavioral pattern of annoyance and irritability towards others.
  • Disobedience
  • Negative approach towards events.
  • Cranky mood swings.
  • Arguments and disagreement with fellow classmates.
  • Blaming others for mistakes made by their own self.
  • Trouble with executive functions.
  • Often showing a strong and unreasoning desire for revenge for petty or trivial things or happenings.
  • Very odd behaviorial reaction to general happenings, which are uncommon to others.

So how does a teacher deal with such a student among the class?

  • Paying more attention to the unexpected behavior of a student.
  • Regulating and controlling emotional outbursts and then dealing lightly.
  • Understanding students with different perspectives or angles.
  • Keen monitoring.
  • Counseling
  • Noting odd behaviors with assignment submission, class discussions and much more.

Many of these behaviors could also be caused by other issues not just because of trauma. So an open discussion with a parent, or with the student itself can clear any misunderstanding that is caused to the teacher. Other possible conditions for such odd behaviors in a student could be :

  • Medical condition
  • Anxiety
  • Introvertedness
  • Different approach towards life
  • Thinking differences.
  • Different up bringing.

Now, coming to the main topic of “Understanding Trauma-informed Education”.

What is Trauma-informed Education?

Trauma-informed Education or Trauma-informed teaching starts with an understanding of how trauma can impact the learning and behavior of a student. With this Trauma-informed Education approach, an educator can know and find ways to support such students who are experiencing any kind of trauma.

What are the principles of Trauma-informed Education?

  • Safety
  • Trustworthiness
  • Peer support
  • Voice and choice
  • Help with cultural issues
  • Empowerment

What are the concepts of Trauma-informed Education?

  1. Recognition or Realization of the prevalence of trauma among the students.
  2. Creating a safe environment for students.
  3. Recognizing how trauma affects different kinds of individuals or students.
  4. Building personal relations and connections with the students.
  5. Understanding certain Events and Experiences related characteristics of a trauma predict victims’ physical and mental health conditions.

What are the components of Trauma-informed Education?

  • Self- awareness
  • Creating a safe environment
  • Social awareness
  • Responsible decision making
  • Building relations and connections
  • Self-management
  • Improvised social behavioral skills
  • Supporting emotional needs

What are the strategies of Trauma-informed Education?

  • Expecting unexpected behavior or responses of a student

Unexpected and abnormal responses are very natural from a student suffering from trauma. So a teacher should not be startled by such behaviors of a student. A teacher should also not take anything personally. A teacher or a parent should inform the student or the child about what is being expected from them before beginning each day. This can be done by keeping tabs or making plans, checklists, or scheduling on mobile devices.

  • Building Personal Connections

This point is most importantly valid for friends and teachers of the child or the student suffering from trauma. Sch students require or look forward to personal connections and bonds in order to trust someone, share problems, be open to talking, or even be approachable. Instead of creating boundaries or pointing out negative behavior of the student, a teacher should form a personal bond, or be close enough to the child so that the child feels secure and discusses problems freely. Students suffering from trauma require a little more attention than others, as they feel noticed and peaceful.

  • Offering Positive Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcement is always an important behavioral tactic while dealing with all kids or students or even adults, but this behavioral tactic is the most important aspect for the kids or students suffering from trauma. Instead of picking up on negative points like the child’s argument, anger, or any kind of negative behavior, a child’s or a student’s positive point should be appreciated first and then a teacher or a parent should point out the negative ones. Pointing out something positive and appreciating the child or the student helps them in boosting their confidence, positive energy, and overall behavior.

Leave a Comment