How Did It Help Me Now? mindfulness as a teaching tool
What does mindfulness have to do with trauma-informed teaching?
Fear of stigma is the primary barrier to teaching mindfulness to trauma-affected students. This fear is based on common knowledge and feeling that mindfulness training will give students a more natural state of awareness, resulting in a disorder rather than recovery, or will have a broader psychological impact on students.
Many educators have also told me that this fear comes from their experience that mindfulness training has a possible negative impact in those who have experienced trauma.
What We Know About Trauma-Informed Teaching
Yes, mindfulness training is beneficial in the classroom, if it is done effectively, and there are some teachers who are present and highly skilled in this aspect of the mindfulness practice. However, mindfulness-based trauma-informed teaching often differs from mindfulness-based training in that trauma-informed teaching is founded on a lens that invites students to be present to the present moment, rather than facilitate an experience of mind centered awareness.
Trauma-informed teachers present in the present moment, rather than in an internalized mindfulness role, and are mindful in teaching rather than mindful of self.
Trauma-informed teachers are also mindful of the physical and emotional conditions of the students while teaching, leading by example with specific compassion for students’ needs.
Trauma-informed teachers are also mindful of the feelings in their bodies during the class and their own
Work with Each School
The success of trauma-informed teaching requires educators who have the ability to teach trauma-informed practices, but not if they are blinded by the scare of stigma or being told to ignore the students. Fortunately, trauma-informed teachers are becoming increasingly present in the classroom in communities throughout the country, including Marin County and other campuses in Marin. Their work will aid in support for the students’ family and friends, who will benefit from these practices as well.
I also encourage mindfulness-based training for trauma-affected students, but I feel it should be in a well-structured mindfulness program rather than a non-cognitive curriculum. This way, students will return the favor of healing and recovery from trauma and support family and friends who have experienced trauma or have been affected by trauma.