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Rebuilding for a New Normal

A new report provides guidance for promoting trauma-responsive practices amid the pandemic

September 28, 2020
Child and teacher wearing masks in school

With support from the Education Redesign Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Partnership for Resilience studied the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its trauma-responsive schools — schools that are grounded in an understanding of trauma and its impacts, and that are designed to promote resilience for all.

The Partnership spoke with 87 administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, and trauma responsive school experts and provided a set of recommendations for meeting the significant challenges posed by the pandemic. The study also hoped to help schools and their communities find ways to adapt trauma-responsive programming to the new reality.

Highlights of the study are summarized below. Read the full study here.

What we learned about the impact of the pandemic:

  • Families and educators experienced emotional distress, financial instability, and threats to basic needs. Most harbor fears about what lies ahead in the new school year.
  • Virtual learning provided more challenges than successes including widespread connectivity and access to technology issues; limited communication between teachers, students, and parents; and confusion over grading.
  • Educators and administrators had little time to recover from the tumultuous spring and are at risk for burnout in the new school year.

Recommendations for moving forward:

  1. Wrap “safety and care” around students and adults through expanded attention to social and emotional needs of students, parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators.
  2. For the 2020–21 school year, focus on social emotional learning, universal behavioral supports, restorative practices, cultural relevance, and relationship building.
  3. Help teachers reach their students through training on pedagogies and curriculum that align with virtual or social distanced settings. This could include inquiry-based learning, community service-based learning, or flipped classroom models.
  4. Seize new opportunities to prioritize teacher-student connection/relationships, social emotional learning, and family engagement.
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