Imagine walking into a classroom with an average amount of chaos that begins each school day. Students start to gradually settle down and take their seats and an argument escalates toward the back of the classroom. A boy named Jordan is screaming and shoving his neighbor. You notice his tattered shirt and the stress in his eyes; however, your priority is to break up the fight and restore a positive learning environment, so you send Jordan to the principal’s office to restore order and begin today’s lesson.

What you don’t know is that Jordan and his mother have been living out of their car, and he hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in over a month. Jordan is in survival mode–a persistent state of fight or flight that is controlled by the primal brain stem function. Because learning takes place in the cerebral cortex, he is unable to learn when in this mindset.

As educators, we are called to this profession. We want to make a difference in children’s lives. However, most traditional training doesn’t adequately prepare us for teaching students like Jordan–students in trauma.

Through a holistic, hands-on approach to educator training and capacity building, school districts can better prepare educators to work with students facing personal challenges and promote a safe, caring learning environment that re-engages and empowers students regardless of their history.

About the Author:

Dr. Carter works as the Superintendent of Schools with Camelot Education. Joe joined Camelot in 2004 and currently oversees the daily operations of Camelot’s 40 programs and schools. He earned his Doctor of Education from the University of Houston. Dr. Carter holds dual Masters Degrees in Education Administration and Criminal Justice Administration; is a certified principal and superintendent, and holds certifications in Special Education and English as a Second Language in multiple states. While serving as principal of Excel Academy in Philadelphia, Joe developed and implemented Camelot’s accelerated high school model.