In order to obtain a teaching degree in the state of Michigan, there are university programs designed for pre-service educators.
Within those programs are classes that are intended to supply the prospective teacher with all the tools they will need to be successful in their own classroom and school environment.
From the outside, that sounds ideal. Where is the fault in supplying a prospective teacher with the tools needed to be successful?
As an elementary education major, I can say that my teacher education courses have been beneficial. I have learned more about concepts and ideas I previously
had limited knowledge of, and I have been introduced to concepts, ideas and resources that I did not know were out there.
In my state-mandated teacher preparation program, I feel that I am learning what I need to in order to effectively teach my future students academic content.
As great as that sounds, that is where I believe the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) guidelines for teachers fall short.
While there are sections on the MDE website discussing children’s mental health, trauma and social-emotional learning, there is nothing that states elementary teachers are required to take courses relevant to those issues, nor does the website give steps to resolve them.
In recent years, there has been an advance in research and consequently increased knowledge regarding childhood trauma, complex trauma and adverse
childhood experiences (ACEs). There has also been a spike in proven benefits of social-emotional awareness and learning.
Many times, students are walking into classrooms knowing that the classroom is their safe space. For many teachers, it is a wonderful feeling to know that a child feels safe in their classroom. However, if the teacher is not educated on what the child is going through and how to help them deal with what is affecting them, then how much is the child really benefiting from being in that classroom?
While I am a firm believer in providing access to anything that helps a student thrive, such as the arts, sciences, etc., I cannot help but wonder why I am required to take classes designed to show me how to incorporate art into the classroom when I am not required to take a class that will educate me on ACEs, resiliency and other emotional issues students face.
The methods used in a trauma-informed practice are necessary for the students who need it, and bene cial for all. Even if the research is just beginning to go more in-depth, why are we as educators not jumping to learn all we can to better help our students?
To me, the students always come first.
I think that by not requiring courses to educate teachers on these issues, we are putting the students at a disadvantage. I could be the best elementary teacher with the most interactive lessons, but if I am not able to understand where my student is emotionally, meet them where they are and work with them to become more resilient, then the way that I teach does not matter, because the information is not reaching the child anyway.
I think that anyone working with children should be required to be educated on the issues previously stated. If educators are not working to reach the whole child, then how much can they expect the child to succeed?
Reporting from Madison Savard, Reporter