Professional Learning Resource Creating a Trauma-Informed Educational Environment

by Victoria Lowe, Model Teacher, New York City Department of Education District 8

Each day, educators find that many of their students are struggling with self-esteem, relationship issues, anxiety, and general stress. COVID-19 has interrupted students’ continuity of learning, left them missing friends and school, deprived them of the normalcy and connections of sports and activities. Unfortunately, in some cases, the pandemic has forced students to deal with additional hardships including job losses in their families, sickness, and death.

Students dealing with these traumas may have difficulty paying attention in classes or doing homework. As educators, we are responsible for teaching and supporting children from all different backgrounds and experiences, including exposure to traumatic events. It’s important we develop strategies to better understand trauma-informed care and help students reconnect and enjoy academic success and in the future.

With on-demand digital learning modules from Ready, Set, RISE! – a unique virtual initiative from Kaiser Permanente, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and Discovery Education – all teachers can be empowered to understand the importance of human connection and empathy in schools. The initiative helps schools support trauma-informed instruction by addressing topics such as:

  • Healthy environments and response to trauma in schools

  • Understanding Trauma and Stress

  • Cultural Humility and Equity

  • Safety and Predictability

  • Compassion and Dependability

  • Empowerment and Collaboration

  • Resilience and Social Emotional Learning

The series of no-cost professional learning modules provides educators like me with a foundational understanding of trauma-informed educational practices and policies that I can use to create more student-centered learning environments for all my learners.

The newly-released “Trauma-Informed Care in the Educational Environment” module focuses on safety and predictability, along with empowerment and collaboration, as core components of a trauma-informed educator practice. By the end of the on-demand professional learning module, educators can:

  • Recognize the three types of safety and why they are important to learning

  • Reflect on educational practices with a trauma-informed lens

  • Apply self-regulation and co-regulation as a stress response management tool that adheres to trauma-informed values

We are living in unprecedented times. As educators, our jobs have never been more complex or complicated. For our students, there are more uncertainties than normal. By building a space with an intentional focus on safety and predictability, we are increasing our students’ feelings of security, allowing them to focus more on learning. Regardless of the location, safe, predictable, empowering, and collaborative spaces are beneficial for all students and educators, especially those experiencing high stress or trauma. With the resources from Ready, Set, RISE!, educators anywhere can help ensure that learning environments fit for all students.