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Collective Trauma & Equity

COVID has provided a collective trauma, touching everyone, to re-imagine schools, we must attend to the Social-emotional needs created.

Photo of Julie Shaw
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I am a.....

  • Educational Administrator/consultant

Tell us about your idea

Teaching remotely in times of crisis not only presents new challenges but also increases stress for educators and feelings of distress for students.   I feel the need to convey the importance of continuing to focus on building relationships while creating a sense of calm & predictability in the online classroom if this format persists or when we re-imagine what schools look like in the future.

Our shared experience with the COVID-19 pandemic creates challenges for all of us, especially those of us working in public education.  Not only do we all share concerns about the health and well-being of those we care about, but also the continuity of education, learning new online tools, and so much more. As educators we must be committed to supporting our students by working with our students with their social-emotional health in mind and increase the use of the trauma-informed lens and trauma-responsive educational practices.  Here are several important points that should be remembered:  

     Honor you limits  --  Remember, secondary trauma or compassion fatigue is real. ·        Emotional regulation -- adults and students -- keep doing it or learn it if you have not            learned regulation techniques before.
     Stay connected with students -- especially if we continue educational in a purely                  online format.  Relationships matter and neuro-protective to those with trauma                  histories and living in chronic stress.
     Maintain routines for you and your students.
     Maintain safety as a priority in online and face-to-face instruction.  Learning will         not happen if all do not have a sense of safety.  

This adversity we are facing now is shared. The COVID-19 pandemic has, touched each of us, in a very different way. This is particularly true for our students. We all need each other- perhaps now more than ever- and it is a time to build our supports for one another and for our students. 

It is important to find ways to offset the impact of stress that social isolation is causing at this time and in future planning as we re-imagine schools. The adolescent brain is not built to tolerate long periods of isolation and inability to interact with peers and social groups. Even before this pandemic began, loneliness was pervasive and detrimental to our youth. It is important that during this time of increased social isolation, we as educators and school personnel try our best to sustain relationships and social connectivity. We can help our students keep their brains (limbic system)  regulated by doing all that we can to ensure that relationships remain intact and that we are intentional in utilizing trauma-responsive pedagogical strategies in our future.  



What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

Standardized testing, teachers as the sage on the stage and rethink and have gritty conversations around discipline and grading systems...

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I am a passionate educator that has studied trauma and trauma-responsive teaching and policy for the past four years.  This topic was the focus of my dissertation and understanding the IDEO design process was a part of my doctoral studies.  I am working with schools in the Greater Philadelphia Area as a consultant to re-imagine school openings and to also create online trauma-responsive techniques if face-to-face classes do not resume in the fall.  

I personally know and have experience in the protective power of public education for those living in chronically stressful home environments and having spent thirteen years in the classroom, successfully working with students living in chronic stress. 

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia and work in schools across the state of PA.

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