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Addressing Trauma

Part of the Virtual Crew Collection

Student crew is only as strong as staff crew. To nurture staff belonging, school leaders are maintaining connections among staff and finding ways for teachers to process their own experience and emotions. To nurture staff purpose and agency, school leaders are helping staff lead Crew in the way students need now.

None of us has been through anything like this, and educators who are used to acting effectively, from experience, toward clear outcomes, may feel at sea right now. In walking alongside students through this time, and in welcoming them back when school buildings open again, teachers and leaders can find purpose and agency in developing skills to meet dealing with their own grief and trauma, and in supporting students to do so. This is all the more urgent because we know that students who are already furthest from opportunity are the ones likely to suffer the most in a national crisis.

Some resources we have found helpful on the role of trauma-informed practices for educators in this time:

A Trauma-Informed Approach to Teaching Through Coronavirus (from Teaching Tolerance) shares recommendations from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. It goes into excellent detail about:

  • Establishing a routine and maintaining clear communication
  • Relationships and well-being taking priority over assignment and behavioral compliance
  • Focusing on a sense of safety, connectedness, and hope

From the National Child Traumatic Stress Network's Outbreak Factsheet: a guide to how traumatic stress can manifest in different age groups, and how adults can respond supportively.


  • Fear of being alone, bad dreams
  • Speech difficulties
  • Loss of bladder/bowel control,
  • constipation, bed-wetting
  • Change in appetite
  • Increased temper tantrums, whining, or clinging behaviors


  • Patience and tolerance
  • Provide reassurance (verbal and physical)
  • Encourage expression through play, reenactment, story-telling
  • Allow short-term changes in sleep arrangements
  • Plan calming, comforting activities before bedtime
  • Maintain regular family routines
  • Avoid media exposure


  • Irritability, whining, aggressive behavior
  • Clinging, nightmares
  • Sleep/appetite disturbance
  • Physical symptoms (headaches, stomachaches)
  • Withdrawal from peers, loss of interest
  • Competition for parents’ attention
  • Forgetfulness about chores and new information learned at school


  • Patience, tolerance, and reassurance
  • Play sessions and staying in touch with friends through telephone and Internet
  • Regular exercise and stretching
  • Engage in educational activities (workbooks, educational games)
  • Participate in structured household chores
  • Set gentle but firm limits
  • Discuss the current outbreak and encourage questions. Include what is being done in the family and community.
  • Encourage expression through play and conversation
  • Help family create ideas for enhancing health promotion behaviors and maintaining family routines
  • Limit media exposure, talking about what they have seen/heard including at school
  • Address any stigma or discrimination occurring and clarify misinformation


  • Physical symptoms (headaches, rashes, etc.)
  • Sleep/appetite disturbance
  • Agitation or decrease in energy, apathy
  • Ignoring health promotion behaviors
  • Isolating from peers and loved ones
  • Concerns about stigma and injustices
  • Avoiding/cutting school


  • Patience, tolerance, and reassurance
  • Encourage continuation of routines
  • Encourage discussion of outbreak experience with peers, family (but do not force)
  • Stay in touch with friends through telephone, Internet, video games
  • Participate in family routines, including chores, supporting younger siblings, and planning strategies to enhance health promotion behavior
  • Limit media exposure, talking about what they have seen/heard including at school
  • Discuss and address stigma, prejudice and potential injustices occurring during outbreak

Have an example to share? We are learning alongside you about what virtual crew can look like, and welcome your contributions. Use this form or email Sarah Norris at snorris@eleducation.org.

And for treasure hunters out there, we are maintaining this public folder with everything we find.


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EL Education

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