09 Jul


I spend a lot of time working over the summer.  I don’t think anybody really believes that.  I mean… I also spend a lot of time watching TV over the summer.  Everybody believes that.  It’s called balance.

But I do work over the summer.  I don’t teach summer school.  It’s a policy for me.  But I always have a side job or two to work on over the summer.  And then I spend a lot of time coming up with a vision for the coming school year.  The summer after my first year of teaching, I spent the whole time on pinterest.  These days, I spend a lot more time reading.  Like I said, balance.

Here’s what’s bouncing around my head these days…

When it comes to trauma, there’s so very much to read.  I’m learning constantly on how trauma affects the classroom and on what I can do about it.

Teaching Traumatized Kids gives a simple (not at all simple) approach: 1) Don’t take it personally, and 2) Give them time.   I really like how they never once say don’t give consequences.  I’ve noticed with my own trauma babies that they are much more capable of accepting those consequences when they are calm.

How Trauma-Informed Teaching Builds a Sense of Safety and Care talks all about attachment and how powerful building relationships can be, especially for trauma babies.

I’m not really the most nurturing person in the world.  I’m more of a type A, let’s get stuff done kind of person.  This is where I struggle.  I attended a professional development workshop where I was introduced to this idea of a welcome ritual.  At first, I thought this would be something like high fiving kids at the door in the morning.  I gave myself a check plus because I rarely miss this.  Luckily, I didn’t tune out the speaker completely as he elaborated on this topic.  It definitely is the high five in the morning, but it’s also whenever a student is out of the classroom for any period of time.  A kid goes out to the bathroom, to ESL class, to another classroom for intervention, etc.  EVERY TIME a kid returns to the classroom, you do your ritual.  It could be a fist bump, a wink, as simple as saying, “welcome back, it wasn’t the same without you”.  The idea is to communicate to that student that they are a valuable part of that classroom, because they are.

A More Responsive Schoolwide Approach to Student Behavior also gave me some food for thought.

5 Epiphanies for Reaching Unreachable Learners helps me remember that it’s not my fault that this is hard.  They are “unreachable”.  That’s not in my head or because I’m an awful teacher.  At the same time, I can do better.  It’s no surprise that “don’t take it personally” is on this list as well.

None of this is ground-breaking.  All of it is what I needed to hear.

Then there’s this idea of reaching all learners.  Obviously, this was a topic of discussion in my pre-service education classes.  But this seems to be something I’m perpetually failing at.  It probably has something to do with there being 25 different students and only one of me.  I’m sure I’ll always have room for improvement here, which is why reading about this topic challenges me so much.  Specifically, I’m concerned by how our focus on collaboration affects introverted kids.  Because sometimes I can’t help but think that I would have hated my classroom.  Yikes!

How Teachers Can Help ‘Quiet Kids’ Tap Their Super Powers helps me think about what might be going on in the kids’ minds.  And how I can help them.

And then 6 Hand Signals that Bring Learning to Life helps me think through ways kids can communicate without talking.

My role this year is changing.  It looks like I’ll only be teaching English Language Arts (with Social Studies integrated in) rather than all subjects, and that’s definitely going to alter the structure and culture of my classroom.  I’ll post more thoughts on the instructional approaches bouncing around my head in the coming days.



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Matt Renwick says:

Thank you for sharing my article in your post (“A More Responsive Approach…”). As you explore the topic of trauma, I highly recommend the book “The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog” by Dr. Bruce Perry. The author, a child psychiatrist, explores the importance of relationships to help mitigate past experiences that prevent kids from learning and living successfully.

Have a nice summer,

Jenny says:

Thanks, Matt. I appreciate your response, and I’ll definitely check that book out. I’ve heard it mentioned in foster care circles, but haven’t read it yet.

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