We were all thrown into mandatory “shelter in place” orders and for educators and students, we were thrown into “distance learning” with no prior preparation. It all happened so fast and so many aspects of our lives had to be changed. This has been challenging for all of us, especially our students.
The truth is, this pandemic has created a traumatic event that all of our students are now experiencing and it is important for us to understand the impact this may be having on our students. Trauma is very damaging to the developing brain and can have lasting effects. Research has shown that when a child experiences an “Adverse Childhood Experience” (ACEs), which are potentially traumatic events such as COVID-19, there could be negative lasting effects on one’s health, well-being and opportunity. ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance abuse in adulthood.
COVID-19 has created 3 conditions that has the potential to negatively impact brain development.
- Chronic unpredictability: We do not know what will happen on a daily basis
- Isolation: The brain is a social organ and grows through experiences and relationships
- Emotional and physical restraint: We are not able to move as we wish and feel trapped emotionally and physically.
For some students, the prolonged stress from this pandemic has lowered their threshold of what they can handle. As a result, students may be “triggered” more easily and this may result in increased negative behaviors. When this happens, an important question to ask yourself about your students is, “When COVID-19 hit, what layer of stress did this add to their lives?”
The good news is that as educators, we have the power to reverse the negative effects of traumatic events and can create an environment that can prime the brain for well-being and learning. As we begin to plan for next school year it is important for us to consider what we can do to create such an environment for all our students. In future posts, I will be sharing more about the effects of trauma and specific activities to create an environment that will prime the brain for learning.
All of you continue to amaze me and are committed to finishing the year strong and it shows by the creative activities you are doing with your students. Here are some games that our very own teachers have created or played with their students on Webex.
Scavenger Hunt: (Nicole Ogata) Students are provided choices in how they participate
Would You Rather: (Tisha Yukihiro) Tisha created this game with appropriate statements. Students commented on the chat and had the option to share their reasons with others.
Pictionary Generator: (Nicole Ogata) Nicole found this great site that helps to play pictionary using the Whiteboard feature on WebEx
Skribbl: (Team Hui Ho’oulu) The entire team plays this with their homerooms