This is a piece based on what the class has learned about trauma and how it can affect a child. This is a personal look on how I believe trauma impacts a child’s life, and how I might try and help a child with it.
Trauma Informed Teaching
Trauma is an unfortunate part of life, even more so when it happens to students. It is something that can completely derail a child’s life. And unfortunately, it is prevalent in all walks of life and comes in a variety of different forms. One of these forms can take the shape of poverty. This is an issue that a child, and sometimes their family, cannot control, yet it still impacts them greatly. A student who is living in poverty is unable to afford many of the essentials of life, including; food, clothes, and other necessities. Not only that, but impoverished areas also tend to have more violence and instability, which can also contribute to trauma. Without the essentials of life and a sense of security and safety, child will not be able to preform their best in school. This inability to excel in school manifests in a multitude of different forms, such as an unwillingness to participate, an inability to focus or really absorb information, and even result in aggression at times.
I have actually worked with a student with poverty related trauma and can attest to these ideas. He, the sweetest young man I have even seen, could not for the life of him focus in school. Not only was he always tired or focused on something else, in this case worrying about his mother and how she did not have a job or how they did not have a stable home, but he was also absent repeatedly which further hindered his learning. Usually the absences were health related as well, another result of not having all the essentials he needed. Unfortunately, he moved to a different school before anything could really done to help his situation, but I do hope that he is getting the support that he needs to be successful and get the knowledge he needs to succeed in life.
Another issue surrounding children with trauma could be from violence in the home. This can affect the child similarly how poverty can. Depending on the exact situation, the child could have physical or mental issues, or both, and that affects their work in class. They can lash out in anger and replicate the violence they see, perhaps as a result of not feeling safe at home and unable to feel safe anywhere else. They could also preform poorly with social or academic marks as a result of such trauma. Not matter the actual effect though, it is something that can greatly hinder a student and stunt their development as a person over all.
Personally, I have witnessed this sort of trauma with a student from a class I had no connection to. I had been shadowing the principal when we went to a class to try and calm down a student who was reacting with aggression towards an assignment that he did not want to do. It turned out that he was not feeling well, a result of his mother’s new boyfriend hitting him, and could not care to even attempt his classwork as he was clearly overwhelmed. He was escorted to the nurse’s office and a counselor came to help, though I am sad to say I do not know the specifics or the result of the confrontation.
Although I hope that none of my future students have to experience trauma like I have talked about earlier, I will definitely try and support them should they be going through it. For one, I will work my hardest to be aware of anything that might be happening to a child. It is key to not just assume that a student is a bad student if there is a problem and I will do my best to try and watch out for and be open to the idea that sometimes, children are going through more than we think. I will also do my best to be open with a student who has showcased trauma. I will do my best to make them aware that I am there for them should they ever need anyone to talk to or just need someone to be there. Though, I will also need to be aware of a student’s comfort and work at their pace, not at a pace I want to. I will also do my best to inform my class, as a whole, about trauma or experiences that are not good, but do happen. I will work on trying to build empathy with my students, without singling out anyone, so that they can better understand a classmate who might be different or act strangely because of something that has happened. As a whole for the school community, I will try to help and inform other teachers about trauma in hopes that they too can try and take an understanding approach when working with a student who has an issue. Hopefully, these students will better understand what is happening in their lives, as well as that at school, there is a supportive, caring family that is there for them when they need it.
Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators. (2008). Retrieved from https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u57/2013/child-trauma-toolkit.pdf
Above is a link to an article, created by the US Department of Health and Human Services, that I could use to help benefit children who have suffered through trauma. It offers a multitude of insights on not only what to do to try and help a student in need because of trauma based situations, but also what trauma can look like in its different forms and in children off all different ages. I could use it to be able to better pinpoint and be aware of what trauma based behaviors in children might look like, thus being able to intervene and help them sooner. It would also act to help children because it would allow me to have, in my own resources, more strategies and approaches that I could use to help a child try and cope with whatever issues they are dealing with. It would allow for a more diverse set of ideas that I could use in case the first attempt I make to help a student does not go as planned. Overall, this resource will let me help the children and benefit their well being because it will help me to better understand what to do and what to look out for.