The Learning Curve

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Trauma Lecture Tells Future Educators to Support their Students – and Each Other

Dr. Tali Raviv addresses a packed room in the Education Building Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. Credit: Kenya Zarns.

Room 5 in the Education Building was packed Tuesday night with future educators and other UND students who were there for…trauma.

“Take a Stand” activity.

UND Teacher Education worked with the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3) to present “Trauma-Informed Practices”, an enlightening and interactive presentation that challenged how attendees understood and perceived trauma. Dr. Tali Raviv, a Chicago-based child clinical psychologist, presented on behalf of NCS3. Within minutes, it became clear that a boring lecture was not on the agenda.

Fairly early in the presentation, Dr. Raviv introduced a “Take a Stand” activity. She asked members of the room to stand if they had been entrusted with troubling information from a child or had feared for a child not in their home, among other situations. Most of the room stood for most of the questions, which in itself was a revelation; the vast majority of those present were under the age of 26, and many had very limited classroom experience. The importance of recognizing and being able to properly react to student trauma suddenly became clear. This exercise was followed by examples of how children adapt to stress and fear, and what educators need to look out for in order to help and intervene.

Dr. Raviv also stressed the importance of educators caring for themselves as well as their students. “Our schools need to be organized so we’re working together,” said Dr. Raviv. “We have to make this a collective thing, so we take care of each other.” Statistics shown during the presentation drove home her point. A RAND survey from January 2021, nearly a year into the pandemic, showed that nearly 1 in 4 teachers indicated they wished to leave their job at the end of that year. Dr. Raviv spoke about teacher burnout and how that can affect students. She advocated for school workplaces becoming spaces where educators can offer mutual support and be supported.

One student offers her perspective.

“That is how we have a better community not just for ourselves, but for our students,” she said.

For their part, the attendees shared some of their own tips and ideas about self-care and what that meant to them. One talked of setting a strict schedule to shut off and disconnect so she wasn’t carrying the stress around 24/7. Another described “dopamine dressing”, which is the idea that dressing in nice, colorful clothes would have a positive impact on the wearer, which then would radiate out to their classrooms and co-workers. The room collectively talked of the need to release stress and talk to others instead of keeping things bottled up.

One of the stated end-goals of the evening’s presentation was to identify key principles of trauma-responsive schools and classrooms, and the future educators present appeared to embrace that concept. The long-term impact of Dr. Raviv’s presentation and impression upon those in that room remains to be seen. However, the seeds were firmly planted in the minds of the next generation of teachers that day.


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