Trauma-Sensitive Practice for New Teacher Standards: Addressing the Epidemic of Our Times

Alexandra Fidyk


In response to provincial and national calls for whole school approaches, and in the hope to support new teacher competencies aimed at promoting mental health, this paper considers the changing dynamics within the current classroom through elements and implications of a participatory study conducted in an Alberta urban elementary school. Specifics from this research with young “girls,” who engaged in ritual, ceremony, arts-integrated, contemplative, and somatic practices, target the on-going conversation on mental health and best practices in schools. Images of and from their life-size body maps are imbedded into the discussion, promoting the inclusion of body-centred, emotional, and imaginal dynamics to be integrated throughout teaching and learning. The discussion calls for the conscious shift of teachers, counselors, and leaders into more integral and ecological paradigms that understand health through the multifold relations with others and the environment. This argument is supported by trauma literature that calls for affective embodied experience, greater inclusion of right hemispheric activities, relational ethics, and teacher professional learning.

            Keywords: trauma; mental health; whole school approaches; ritual; ceremony; contemplative, somatic, and arts-based methods; paradigm

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