As you plan and organize your back-to-school preparations, we wanted to explore the role of transitions with a three-part series that examines how social and emotional learning can help you and your students prepare for the new school year after a year of disruption. In this episode, we focus on how we as adults need to work on our self-regulation and learn to be kind to ourselves as we prepare for the unknowns that will accompany the school year.
We begin with a definition from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), which defines a trauma-informed child and family service system, such as a school, as “one in which all parties involved recognize and respond to the impact of traumatic stress on those who have contact with the system including children, caregivers, and service providers.”
We recognize that children may face various types of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), but as teachers, do we consider our own ACEs and how the pandemic has impacted our mental health? We normally discuss how students’ traumatic experiences can transfer to teachers; however, we also need to consider how teachers’ stresses and traumas can transfer to our students.
As educators, we often put our needs aside in order to take care of everyone else. As we head back to school this year, we want to put a focus on avoiding burnout and thriving, instead of merely surviving.
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive: to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
Marcus Aurelius, 2nd-century Roman emperor
The following are resources available on AVID Open Access to explore this topic in more depth:
- Create Community and Nurture Connections to Support Social and Emotional Learning (article collection)
- “R” You Ready to Recharge? Tips for Teacher Self-Care (article)
- Start the Year by Fostering Your Students’ Growth Mindset (article)
- Managing Transitions Back to the Classroom (podcast episode)
- How to Prioritize Self-Care: Developing Your SEL Toolkit (podcast episode)
Preparing for Post-Pandemic Student Reengagement
In his book, Teacher and Child: A Book for Parents and Teachers, Haim Ginott shares, “I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or dehumanized.”
In this episode, we explore the triggers and responses to a traumatic experience and how they are passed to another. We share three key trauma-informed strategies from a Hanover research brief to help you support students as they reenter school: establishing routines, developing relationships, and focusing on social and emotional learning (SEL). Together, these components help students feel safe, seen, and empowered.
We also share strategies for adult self-regulation: breathing exercises, Self-Regulations Tool Cards from Sound Discipline, and tips for taking time to check in with ourselves to gain insight into any areas where we may be struggling.