Stress, Trauma, and the Brain: Insights for Educators – Bruce Perry

One of the most amazing things that happened at Carrolup Native Settlement was the ability of Noel White to create an environment in his classroom that literally transformed his Aboriginal pupils. Quite simply, their behaviours and emotions changed markedly in a positive manner and their creative abilities were unleashed. I discussed some of the factors that contributed to these remarkable changes in Part 1 and Part 2 of my article entitled Facilitating Healing at Carrolup, posted last week.

Here, I provide links to a series of short films where world-leading expert Bruce Perry provides important insights for educators about stress, trauma and the brain. As I watched these films, I realised how pertinent what Bruce was saying to what was going between Noel White and the Aboriginal children of Carrolup. I also realised how important these films are for teachers and the people overseeing education systems today. There is much that can be learnt.

Part 1: The Neurosequential Model in Education, based on an understanding of the structure and sequential nature of the brain, can help educators increase their students’ engagement in learning and mitigate behavioral problems. Listen as Dr. Perry describes the model and its significant impact on how we interact with our students, our own children, and each other. [7’04”]

Part 2: How Stress Impacts the Brain. Stress is a natural part of life and we experience it daily. However, we don’t often think about what stress does to our brain, our ability to learn new concepts, get along with others, or recall information. Dr. Perry discusses the impact of stress on students and teachers, and explains how creating a safe, secure environment is critical to allowing students to reach their full potential. [5’40”]

Part 3: The Power of Connection. Relationships are essential to human life. Research demonstrates that when teachers establish a true empathic connection with students, they are able to engage and reengage students in learning, and actually heal and grow children’s brains. Dr. Perry discusses the important role relationships have in learning, and gives us practical ways to do this in the school setting. [7’04”]

Part 4: Regulating Yourself and Your Classroom. Human beings are social creatures, and because of that, our moods and personalities are extremely contagious to one another. Dr. Perry explains how students and teachers can often impact each other’s mood and brain function, and shares effective classroom strategies that help keep students and adults calm and regulated, decrease behavior challenges, and improve academic engagement. [8’13”]

Part 5: Educator Strategies for the ClassroomResearch shows that traditional behavioral modification techniques and full reliance on rewards and consequences are often ineffective with the students who need it the most. Dr. Perry lays out several easy-to-implement strategies for teachers and their classrooms, resulting in a significant impact on the overall social, emotional, and academic functioning of the students. [7’24”]

The photograph used in this blog post is by Robert Collins and has come from Unsplash, a great resource of free high resolution photographs.

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