No teacher, parent, SNA or principal will ever forget the 12th of March 2020. The day we were all told we had one hour to close our buildings down and organise three weeks of work for the entire school. Cue sweat, internal tears and a lot of queuing at the photocopier. Little did we know our worlds were about to turn upside down and continue to remain that way for two years.
As teachers, both Seána and I (Aoife) completed our teacher training in 2003. During this time we received no guidance on how to support our student’s emotional wellness and mental health. Now post- pandemic (ish), in a world that has become even more chaotic and at times quite scary too, teachers remain untrained and completely under-resourced when it comes to supporting the emotional and mental health needs of our students.
While there are some well-being programmes now available to schools, the onus is on the principal and staff to implement them. Many teachers are even taking the initiative themselves to upskill and train in the field of Social and Emotional Learning. They know and have experienced first-hand that the school curriculum as it currently stands, is not fit for purpose.They simply cannot wait for the direction to come from the top. Not in the world we live in today, in 2022.
For all of the teachers and principals wanting and willing to prioritise mental health education, it can be very daunting trying to figure out where to start. As our society has experienced a pandemic on a global scale we need to first acknowledge the trauma we have been through. Needless to say some more than others. This collective trauma has had a significant effect on our children and students. As a result, the best place we as their educators can start is to become trauma-informed. Here at Be Well Do Well we are delighted to say that we can give you some guidance on who the experts in the field are and what resources we suggest you start with:
How to become Trauma-informed Educators:
Documentary: Resilience: The Biology of Stress and Science of Hope
Bio: “Researchers have recently discovered a dangerous biological syndrome caused by abuse and neglect during childhood. As the new documentary Resilience reveals, toxic stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children, putting them at a greater risk for disease, homelessness, prison time, and early death…”
Podcast: Real Talk For Real Teachers with Dr. Becky Bailey
Episode: The Transformational Power of Connection
“The Deepest Well” by Dr. Nadine Burke Harrris
“ The Deepest Well is a heartbreaking, beautiful book about what might be the most important single issue facing our country’s disadvantaged populations: the prevalence of childhood trauma.
“The Boy who was Raised by a Dog” by Dr. Bruce Perry
How does trauma affect a child’s mind–and how can that mind recover? In the classic The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, Dr. Perry explains what happens to the brains of children exposed to extreme stress and shares their lessons of courage, humanity, and hope.
“Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” by John R. Ratey
In Spark, John J. Ratey, MD, embarks upon a fascinating and entertaining journey through the mind-body connection, presenting startling research to prove that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to aggression to menopause to Alzheimer’s.
While none of the suggested books and documentaries above make for easy reading / watching, our students need their principals, teachers and SNAs to become trauma-informed now more than ever. The great news is, it’s never too late to start!