As teachers, we know the importance of relationships in learning. Students who have experienced trauma have difficulty forming relationships because of distrust and hesitancy to bond with others. How, then, do we become a person with whom students can bond and build trusting relationships?
In their book Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom, authors Kristin Souers and Pete Hall indicate that teachers can create environments that are safe enough and healthy enough for building relationships with students who have experienced trauma by providing the following (p. 96):
- Consistency. Students need us to be consistent in our classroom practices and procedures, and in the behaviors we exhibit on a day-to-day basis.
- Positivity. Students need to be surrounded by positive messages and plentiful encouragement.
- Integrity. Students need clearly articulated expectations of honesty, responsibility, and trustworthiness to build a culture of integrity within the classroom. We can reinforce the importance of doing the right things by displaying messages and quotes related to integrity.
- Repair when necessary. Students need us to apologize when our words or deeds hurt them. Be quick to offer an apology and begin the repair necessary to restore the relationship.
- Models of appropriate interpersonal behavior. Students need exemplars. What you say and do in your classroom teaches powerful lessons. Daily model what is appropriate for all of you students.
As you prepare for next week, think of ways that you can bring greater levels of consistency, positivity, and integrity into the classroom. Doing so will further your relationships with all students!