#everydaycourage and trauma-informed education

#everydaycourage is always around us if we can slow down to notice it.

#everydaycourageI spent many years working in a therapeutic school with teens who were struggling with anxiety, depression, mental health, and the impacts of trauma. If you let the pace of the year carry you forward, it was easy to lose sight of the progress we were making.

I remember going to see a production of a musical with students from a mainstream school. I remember watching it and being incredibly impressed with their talents, skills, and bravery in performance.  And I felt sad. My students in our alternative school had faced so much in their lives, and it was unlikely that many of them would be able to do something like get up in front of an audience of hundreds and sing.

Those were the thoughts I had when I was swept up in the school year. But I wasn’t noticing the #everydaycourage and growth right in front of me.

When I slowed down and looked around me, though, growth was happening everywhere

It just didn’t look exactly like the growth I was expecting to see.

trauma-informed education

The student who smiled and said “hi” when she walked into school in the morning? To someone else, it was just a normal, unremarkable moment. But if you knew her, and if you looked for it, you could see a young woman being brave enough to try to trust adults even though the adults in her life had always let her down.

To the outside world, a 17 year-old struggling to read out loud from his phone might look like failure. But if you had gotten to know that student, you’d see the courage of a person working through fear, shame and doubt, to learn something he desperately wanted to know.

When we talk about trauma-informed education, many teachers say they want to make a difference, help a child, facilitate healing.

The actual day-to-day work of being in a relationship with young people who have been impacted by trauma and loss can be slow and feel hopeless. The secret no one tells you about this work, though, is that the healing and the difference-making are happening all the time. We just don’t alway see it.

I know now that when I doubted my students could ever get up in front of hundreds and sing, I was wrong. Both metaphorically and literally.

Being present in the struggle of trauma-impacted kids can be gut-wrenchingly hard. But it’s this unfailing presence that helps students build the foundation for the leaps and bounds and joy of growth.

#everydaycourage is everywhere if we notice it.

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To learn more about trauma-informed teaching, I’d love to invite folks to a workshop at Antioch University in Keene, NH on October 7. More information here: http://tiny.cc/traumatoolbox  

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alex.shevrin@gmail.com'
Alex Shevrin is a teacher/leader and techie at Centerpoint School in South Burlington, VT, an independent, therapeutic, special education school. She believes in the power of authentic relationship as a foundation to good work in education.
alex.shevrin@gmail.com'

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