Resilience in Education

Published by Concordia University, Nebraska 1 year ago on Mon, Mar 14, 2022 3:17 PM

Why Trauma-Informed Teaching Is Important to Student Success

Adopting trauma-informed practices in schools, youth programs and churches is arguably more critical than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly presented unique challenges for the classroom and other educational contexts. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised educators to adopt trauma-informed classroom strategies to ease the transitions between virtual and in-person learning and improve resilience in education.

Even before the shared traumas that the COVID-19 pandemic brought, trauma and adverse experiences were of increasing concern. In 2019, the CDC released an analysis of adverse childhood experiences that revealed trauma as a threat to public health. The CDC shared that 61% of adults it surveyed reported experiencing at least one type of adverse childhood event, with nearly one in six experiencing four or more types. The experiences included circumstances such as abuse, neglect, witnessing violence or growing up in a family with substance-use problems. In its analysis, the CDC found that these experiences were linked to chronic health problems, mental health concerns, substance abuse and reduced educational and occupational achievement.

Traumas do not have to be extreme, however, to affect student learning. Every student experiences setbacks that trauma-informed teaching practices in schools can help address to keep students on track. While educators and those who work with children are not mental healthcare professionals, they do play a pivotal role in helping students recover from negative life events socially and academically. By moving to trauma-informed practices, educators (as well as pastors, youth leaders and other adults) can foster a critical life skill in every student: resilience.

Resilience Theory and Trauma-Informed Classroom Strategies

Many educators are aware of how trauma can impact student success in the classroom. However, responding to trauma is usually seen as outside of educators’ expertise. This perception shows we need more training in ways to build resilience in education—while still focusing on the goal of academic achievement, keeping in mind the well-being of the whole student.
One way to accomplish resilience in education is to approach teaching using Resilience Theory. Resilience Theory is an educational framework that prioritizes helping students create a positive self-concept. A positive self-concept, according to Resilience Theory, will aid students in recovering from negative events. Teachers help build a student’s positive self-concept through trauma-informed teaching practices and strategies.

What Are Trauma-informed Teaching Practices?

Trauma-informed practices in schools are those that create safe, secure and consistent environments. From maintaining clear routines to showing cultural sensitivity, educators can employ a wide variety of trauma-informed classroom strategies to build resilience in teaching. You may, for example, seek to understand student misbehavior before disciplining them and offer them more choices in the classroom to minimize future unwanted behaviors. Such teaching practices are critical to establishing resilience in education—they empower students, establish structure and create an atmosphere of support, all of which are necessary for academic and personal growth.

“We must create a calm and predictable culture of safety through clear rules, expectations, consistent schedules and routines, [and] common language before students will be able to learn new skills and ways of thinking, such as resilience.”

— Jesse Florang, course developer, M.Ed. Trauma and Resilience at Concordia Nebraska

Building Trauma-informed Practices in Schools

The first step toward establishing resilience in education is to emphasize it in your own classroom. Commit to learning not only how trauma affects students, but also how to respond to it. Research and build direct trauma intervention skills and trauma-informed classroom strategies that you can draw upon daily. Partner with others in your school, church or organization to nurture resilience in education and other systems responsible for helping children grow. Consider taking courses in trauma-informed teaching or enrolling in a trauma and resilience certificate. These are excellent starting points for educators, pastors, youth workers or others who work with children and want to get acquainted with trauma-informed teaching and practices.

Although each child will have different needs, it is essential that healthy relationships, communication and collaboration are established with students, families, community resources, outside agencies and other services outside of school, shares Florang.

If you’re passionate about this area of education or want to specialize in resilience in education, Concordia University, Nebraska, offers an M.Ed. with an emphasis in trauma and resilience. Our M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, Trauma and Resilience will provide you with direct skills and interventions you need to help children become more resilient—regardless of their life experience. In our program, we aim to teach, practice, model and role-play the positive characteristics and emotions central to trauma-informed practices in schools. These include kindness, grit, courage, hope, empathy, humility and other qualities that enable you to reach more students and, ultimately, thrive as an educator.

Developing Resilience in Teaching and Leadership

Improving resilience in education isn’t limited to using trauma-informed classroom strategies. It also requires cultivating your own resilience in teaching. Educators and leaders experience traumas, setbacks and adverse events of their own, and working with students who’ve suffered traumas can lead to higher stress levels, according to the National Education Association. Educators thus have an opportunity to model resilience for their students—if you maintain a positive self-concept in the face of hardship, you teach your students they can overcome adverse events, as well.

At Concordia Nebraska, you can develop your own resilience in teaching in our M.Ed. in Trauma and Resilience program. In this graduate program, you’ll learn how to respond to adverse events in your own life, student traumas and shared traumas such as the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll practice working with others to create resilience in education in courses such as Building a Resilient School. Our master’s program centers on leadership and curriculum development in trauma-informed teaching. That means you can implement trauma-informed teaching strategies in your own classroom or pioneer a school-wide effort to improve resilience in teaching at your institution.

Whatever your goal is for contributing to resilience in education, achieve it at Concordia Nebraska. We’ll prepare you with the skills you need to grow academically, personally and spiritually so you can become the educator you want to be, now and in the future.