We had the honour of attending the Masters Trauma Conference in Oxford at the end of August, and what an extraordinary experience it was. Throughout three enlightening days, we were fortunate to engage with some of the most brilliant minds in trauma research.
We explored their insights through the lens of education and the potential to transform mental wellbeing outcomes for our young people. In this week’s blog we present a summary of the key takeaways and highlights from each day for you.
Day One: Cultivating Safe and Connected Classrooms
The conference commenced with great enthusiasm, featuring distinguished figures in the field: Stephen Porges, Peter Levine, and Bessel Vanderkolk. Their discussions established the foundation for the rest of the event. Here are our primary reflections:
(1) All other teaching methods become more effective when young people feel safe and connected in class.
(2) State regulation is a more effective way to manage behaviours that challenge us, than a behaviourist approach.
(3) We need to make relationships the priority in education to improve academic outcomes.
(4) We avoided Covid by avoiding humanity to keep us safe. Humanity then became a cue of threat rather than safety.
(5) Movement, music, art and drama have never been more important in education to help young people heal.
Day Two: Maximising Performance through Trauma-Informed Practice
The second day continued to impress with insights into the intricate connection between the mind and body, trauma healing discussions led by Bessel Vanderkolk, Licia Sky's discourse on cultivating agency in people, and an exceptional workshop on optimising resilience and performance by our good friends, Michael Allison and Mathilde Shisko. Here's what we learned:
(1) The potential for trauma informed practice to optimise performance for all children regardless of ACEs. This could be in a range of areas such as school sport, in exams, drama performances, public speaking or lessons through developing containers of safety. We will explore this in more detail in a follow up blog in the next few weeks.
(2) Strategies that kept us safe in the past might no longer be keeping us safe but actually hurting us.
(3) How children feel, influences how they experience the world, how they interact with others, and how they act, react, think and behave.
(4) When children and teachers are in a state of safety, we see more cues of safety. When we are in a state of threat, we see more cues of threat.
(5) The most potent nutrient for healing, resilience, health, performance and survival is supportive, trusting and playful relationships. The challenge is that many children and teachers don’t trust that it’s actually safe to feel safe with others.
Day Three: Concluding Reflections
The conference culminated on a poignant note with a fantastic session on childhood neglect by Ruth Cohn, and an exploration of Richard Schwartz's work on internal family systems. Here are our concluding thoughts:
(1) Traumatised children numb out so they don’t have to feel. One of our challenges as teachers is to help bring young people back to the world.
(2) We do that through connection, community and truly seeing and listening to our young people and that helps the fog lift.
(3) As teachers, we need to be prepared to repair ruptures again and again.
(4) We need things that make us happy - movement, art, music, drama and play.
(5) We can make this world better for children and each other in education. 🌍
🙏We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Araminta Jonsson and her team for her exceptional organisation of this enlightening conference.
We wholeheartedly recommend this event to fellow educators interested in making a positive impact on the lives of their students. Together, we can cultivate a safer and more nurturing educational environment for all.
How can we help you?
If you wish to explore further how to develop these strategies in your teaching to aid young people, do not hesitate to reach out to us here at Future Action.
We have got a range of taster resources for you to try. We have created the ‘Enhancing Engagement Scorecard’ to help you track your progress in implementing Trauma Informed PE practice within 2 minutes. This scorecard acts as a valuable tool for self-reflection and continuous improvement.
We invite you to take the first step and click on this link to get your score.
Complimentary Gift - You will also receive access to our taster ‘Trauma Informed PE’ online teacher training course so you can learn how adverse childhood experiences affect young people in your classrooms now and long after they leave your care.
'Trauma Informed PE' online teacher training course for you
To find out more about our ‘Trauma Informed PE’ Online teacher training course which guides you how to implement our Recovery Roadmap in your PE department in 7 simple steps visit our website here.
P.S. Come join us at the North East YST Secondary PE Teacher Conference, on Tuesday 17th October at Northumberland College. Click here to book or email email@example.com for more info.