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6 TED Talks on Trauma-Informed Teaching

6 TED Talks on Trauma-Informed Teaching

Trauma and adversity can impact anyone anytime and anywhere. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic or everyday stress have lasting effects. In the classroom, trauma can cause students to disengage from their learning journeys, negatively impact behavior, memory and recall, information processing, relationship building, problem-solving abilities, and more.

For teachers, recognizing trauma and supporting those who suffer from it can change students’ lives. It’s important to know the signs and be prepared to help.

We’ve compiled TED Talks (and TEDx Talks from independent community events) about virtual education, back-to-school time, and inspiration for the classroom. This collection is designed to examine some important aspects of trauma, ACEs, and PTSD and to explore how to become a steady resource for young people.

Nadine Burke Harris: How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime

Dr. Burke Harris, a pediatrician, spells out her groundbreaking 2011 ACEs research underlining the relationship between trauma, childhood development, and learning and behavior problems. But ACEs’ effects are not necessarily fixed, and teachers can be an antidote to the adversity some young people face.

Michelle Chatman: Healing the Harm in Schools

Dr. Michelle Chatman is a research fellow in the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Program at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In this talk, she outlines three keys to healing and restorative practice in schools: connection, care, and repair.

In Dr. Chatman’s words: “Connect with yourself first. Figure out what it is that makes you feel whole and restored and nurtured. . . . Many of us are exhausted and overworked. I know, I’m a teacher, which is even more reason to why we need to tend to our own restoration and then connect with others.”

Dani Bostick: Breaking the Silence About Childhood Trauma

Dani Bostick is a TED-Ed Innovative Educator. In this video, she outlines several strategies for dealing with PTSD and childhood trauma. Many people have difficulty putting a name to their experience. They don’t know how to identify their trauma and name it. She says that we need to provide sources of information so that the symptoms of PTSD can be identified. Another key strategy is sharing stories. As difficult as it is to name personal hardship, the benefits are profound.

When someone re-experiences trauma, it’s not a memory. Ms. Bostick says, “It’s well beyond a memory. In fact, I don’t have any memories of my trauma. I just have feelings.”

Dr. Meredith Fox: Trauma-Informed Teaching

When we experience trauma, we are fearful.

“Our brains change. Our bodies release adrenaline and cortisol—hormones that force us into a fight, flight, or freeze moment,” Dr. Meredith Fox says.

In this state, processing information is difficult, and children who suffer from trauma can appear disorganized or dissociative.

After her sister was murdered, Dr. Fox found a special person who became an impactful ally. Her art teacher, Mrs. O’Hara, provided a safe space for her to process grief. The art room was a safe and open space, not just physically but mentally too. Just around turning 11 years old, Dr. Fox was supported exactly when she needed it most.

At the end of the video, Fox brings her guide, Mrs. O’Hara, onstage to thank her.

Rosemarie Allen: What If Schools Are the Source of Trauma?

We blame troubled families for the being source of many problems, but sometimes, school is traumatic. In this 2022 TEDx Talk, Dr. Rosemarie Allen describes her upbringing. She grew up in a safe, loving home, but school was a different story.

“School was the source of my trauma,” she says. “I went home to heal.”

She notes that the questionnaire for ACEs only asks about events that take place in the household.

Dr. Allen advocates for healing-centered practices that acknowledge trauma and resilience as collective experiences. Healing begins by focusing on the inner strength that exists in every child.

Mary Crnobori: Why All Schools Should Be Trauma-Informed

The roots of resilience start early, says Dr. Mary Crnobori. Positive relationships will “counterbalance stress,” and surprisingly, some adversity can even be beneficial when “buffered by responsive caregiver relationships.”

Trauma-informed schools foster a sense of safe connection and belonging that makes schools into safe havens.

Interested in learning more about how to get started with trauma-informed teaching in your classroom? Check out our blog post, Trauma-Informed Teaching Practices for Educators.

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Adam Burke

Adam Burke is a Marketing Specialist at Edmentum. He previously worked in marketing at ACT and as an education reporter in eastern Iowa. Before that, he was also a classroom teacher at every level from K to college. Adam has a BA from Macalester College and an MFA from the University of Iowa.