E7: Trauma-Informed, Strength-Based Classrooms

Working with challenging students can be tough work for any teacher or educator, and you’ll walk away from this episode equipped with practical strategies you can use to bring more joy and meaning to the learning process. In this educational podcast about the art of teaching, Meg Durham converses with Dr Tom Brunzell, the Director of Education at Berry Street Australia. From this conversation, you’ll better understand how to use trauma-informed, strength-based strategies to create classrooms that nurture healing, growth and learning.

So what’s this episode really about?

  • Understanding student behaviour from a trauma-informed and strength-based lens.
  • How to form safe and healthy relationships with your students to cultivate healing, growth and learning. 
  • How engaging in the learning process as an adult is the most powerful way to impact future generations.

Why you should listen

As teachers and educators we often do not see what is happening in our student’s lives outside of the classroom, but we can see is their behaviour in the classroom. It is possible to become more skilled at noticing the signs and symptoms of stress in our students and ourselves – to work towards creating an environment that cultivates healing, growth and learning. As leaders in the classroom we have the responsibility and the privilege to help young people move forward with greater awareness, strength and resilience. Join Meg Durham and Dr Tom Brunzell as they discuss the lessons they wished they’d both known in their early days of teaching. 

Practical Applications

  • Notice, celebrate and cultivate your student’s strengths. For instance, a disruptor of the classroom may be a strong leader with impressive negotiation skills.
  • When you notice a student is activated – use it as co-regulation opportunity by slowing down, breathing deeply, moving to their level and sharing your calm.
  • Start to monitor your heart rate throughout the day and how it impacts the way you think, feel and act.

You can quote us on that…

“When I see a kid struggle, the first thing I think of is, ‘What unmet need is this kid trying to meet?’ Because we’re all trying to meet our needs in healthy ways or unhealthy ways”

Dr Tom Brunzell

“We’re human beings. We all get activated with our own stress response.”

Dr Tom Brunzell

“Research is showing that the more teachers model their own wellbeing strategies in front of their kids, that relationship and trust begins to increase, and kids can begin to take on the responsibility for themselves.”

Dr Tom Brunzell

Links from this episode

Berry Street

Book “Creating Trauma-Informed, Strength-Based Classrooms”

VIA Strengths Survey

Adverse Childhood Experiences Test

Circuit Breaker 1:1 Wellbeing Coaching Session

Fresh Eyes School Wellbeing Consultation

Want to learn more?

The learning doesn’t have to stop here. Get your free dose of wellbeing education in your inbox with Meg’s Thought Of The Week. Click here to subscribe.

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Meg Header

Hi, I'm Meg!

B.Phys Ed, M. Ed (Student Wellbeing), CIPP

I’m a teacher with experience working in primary and secondary schools across Australia, and a specialist in the field of wellbeing education and coaching. I founded Open Mind Education in 2013 with a vision of sharing practical, enriching wellbeing education with staff, parents, and broader school communities.

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