The Trauma-informed Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom toolkit has been developed with a strengths-based approach, providing strategies to help educators capitalize on students' existing skills and mindsets and to ensure the climate of the classroom and school are conducive to students' development. The toolkit provides a brief overview of the types of adversities that research suggests can have a negative effect on children's lives and some strategies that educators can use in their classrooms and schools to support students experiencing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and other types of trauma. The research-based toolkit is rich with resources to explore, strategies to implement, and prompts for reflections aimed at facilitating educator learning and engagement with the material. In recognizing the importance of educator well-being among those who support children who have experienced or are experiencing trauma, the toolkit also discusses symptoms of secondary traumatic stress and strategies for self-care.
Every day, students across the country attend school, where they are expected to perform to their best abilities. There are clear standards for what constitutes the “best,” and that often leaves children who are struggling with emotional regulation or the impacts of trauma behind. How to help these students who are clearly struggling with emotional regulation and executive functioning skills remains a challenge even for the best teachers. Often, these students are labeled as “disruptive,” “bullies,” or “behavioral problems”. In reality, these students are searching for stronger connections and meaning without knowing the best strategies to find them. Even if only a small portion of the student body has experienced trauma, the entire school will be impacted by the effects. For this reason, it is important that a trauma-informed school takes a school-wide, collaborative approach.
Leaders from Rumi to Grace Lee Boggs to Whitney Houston have all reminded us that we can’t achieve love, liberation, or transformation externally without first loving, liberating, and transforming ourselves. We have to start by looking in the mirror, loving ourselves, and being the change we wish to see in the world.