Today I had the opportunity to attend attend two sessions about trauma responsiveness and behavior by Juliana Nichols-Hazlett. Hazlett is a doctoral student, former administrator and special education teacher, and consultant who is focusing on ensuring that teachers are equipped and empowered to meet the social-emotional needs of their students. I could honestly listen to her all day and got so much out of the her two sessions. Reflecting on what impacted me the most and will make its way into my classroom on Monday morning.
Ross Greene believes kids do well if they can and that reigns true for people too. People do well if they can and Hazlett notes when people know better, they do better. It’s basic brain architecture really. Basic brain architecture prove that experiences shape the brain and interactions with adults and through experiences build the brain’s foundation. Something I found very interesting is that the part of the brain that isn’t being used prunes and makes room for new learning and experiences over time.
Educators are seeing trauma in students today. In fact, two out of three students are impacted by trauma. Trauma in our lives changes our body and brain architecture. Educators must remember that it is vital to focus on what happened with/to them versus what’s wrong with them. Every single person manages trauma differently. As educators, it is our job to respond through a relationship that is rooted in regulated and reflective practices.
Many depend on us to be the constant. Until we (adults) recognize the social emotional learning ourselves, we can’t just focus on our students. Hazlett notes a disregulated adult is toxic. If we can’t be rooted in relationships, we aren’t able to meet the deeper needs of the student. Our role as responsive educators isn’t about our title, it’s about the relationship. The way we respond to either reinforces the trauma or repairs the trauma. Building the relationship and truly moving from trauma informed to trauma responsiveness stems to what are we doing and how we are responding to those with trauma.
The way that educators respond to trauma matters. We are wired for connections as humans. It’s how our brain works. Moving from trauma informed to trauma responsiveness takes time and equates to having the knowledge and utilizing it with intent to make a change. It’s a slow process, of course. However, it is my responsibility as an adult and educator, to calm the chaos and not join in. We have an opportunity each day to make an impact and build up a relationship over time. Trauma looks different in everyone but the way you respond and build a relationship with someone truly makes a difference. Be willing to try a new lens, way, approach, or response to make an impact. It matters.