Teachers create a learning environment that is sensitive to and supportive of ELs' cultural identities, language and literacy development, and content area knowledge and a safe place for students to be.
Assessment: 25 pts.
TA: 45 Minutes
Teachers can create a classroom welcoming to all students, even students living in trauma, as they consider things they themselves can do in their classroom to help these students feel comfortable and safe.
Students have learned about race and discovered their own beliefs in their lives to date. They have learned about white privilege and fragility and are now ready to consider the students in their classrooms who are living in trauma.
EDUTOPIA TEACHER WELLNESS
By: Todd Finley
October 30, 2017
Are You at Risk for Secondary Traumatic Stress?
Teaching and caring for others—especially kids in trauma—can be difficult. Here are six strategies to help you take care of yourself.
Caring is a finite resource. I learned that from an Ojibwa second grader.
At the beginning of the school year, David (not his real name) would jerk his neck back to flick the bangs out of his light brown eyes and write, “I love Mario. I love Mario. I love Mario” to the bottom of the page, and then grin and ask, “What do you think, Mr. Todd?” Some days, the page would be filled with, “I love soccer.”
In early October, David stopped playing soccer at recess. When I asked him why, he walked away. Then he stopped writing. Each week, he became more of a ghost, refusing to communicate with me. One day after school, David broke the lock on my desk and stole my stockpile of pens. I caught him selling them, 10 for a quarter. The boy’s guardians never returned my urgent messages. Meanwhile, a dozen other students in my class were in need.
The day before Thanksgiving break, the administrative assistant noticed David cupping his left ear in the cafeteria. I stopped breathing for a minute, suddenly awake to the fact that my student had been covering his ear all week without me registering that he might be in pain. Nor had I noticed that David’s previously white T-shirt was the color of oatmeal and smelled like neglect.
When the administrator moved David’s hand away, we saw that his ear canal had volcanoed into a mound of ooze and black crust. I was horrified by the wound and by my callousness, and ashamed to stand beside a colleague’s full heart. Kneeling to hug the boy, she looked up at me and mouthed, “Oh my god!”
Fortunately, David flourished with a new guardian and counseling. And while there is no defending criminal disregard for a boy in my care, I now realize that my emotions had narrowed to Ryan Gosling levels after working with children whose temper swings overwhelmed my meager skills.
Symptoms of Secondary Traumatic Stress
Any professional who listens to children recount traumatic experiences is at risk of secondary traumatic stress, the emotional weight that some teachers carry after exposure to children who suffer. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, secondary traumatic stress degrades our professional effectiveness and overall quality of life. According to Sheri Brown Sizemore, author of To Love to Teach Again: 10 Secrets to Rekindling Passion to Keep You in the Classroom, symptoms include anger, cynicism, anxiousness, avoidance, chronic exhaustion, disconnection, fear, guilt, hopelessness, hypervigilance, inability to listen, loss of creativity, poor boundaries, poor self-care, and sleeplessness.
If you recognize these symptoms, complete the Professional Quality of Life Scale, which measures compassion fatigue. Also be aware that there are strategies that can help, like these:
3.Use drive time for self-talk:If I’m feeling out of sorts while driving to work, I talk about my concerns aloud and in the third person. For example: “Todd is feeling raw and fragile because of the crying jag that X had yesterday. He’ll be OK today if he doesn’t get overpowered by X’s feelings.” This emotional distancing, according to research on third-person self-talk, boosts rationality and improves people’s “ability to control their thoughts, feelings, and behavior under stress.” After that, I put Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” on full blast and float into my classroom.
Finally, don’t forget the most important thing. “It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem,’” said Fred Rogers. “Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” Don’t forget who you are.
This content is provided to you freely by Equity Press.
Access it online or download it at https://equitypress.org/partnerships/la_5.2.