Repositioning Positive Education in the Classroom

Repositioning Positive Education in the Classroom

October 16, 2023

Teachers often interpret resistant student behaviour (i.e., behaviour often labelled distracting, attention-seeking, resistant, oppositional, bullying behaviour) as a ‘choice’ the student is making to assert themselves in the classroom. Often, classroom behaviour is meeting a need for the student, but the behaviour is a maladaptive and a compensatory response to classroom adversity.

Based upon a systematic literature review of trauma-aware practice models and of the student wellbeing literature, a new evidence-informed model arose to meet dual-concerns within the classroom for healing and growth: trauma-informed positive education (TIPE), an emerging field championed by Tom Brunzell and Lea Waters.

Trauma-informed Positive Education

TIPE has been conceived as a pedagogical practice model for teachers to learn as a whole-school approach to supporting high needs students and is predicated on three domains: (domain 1) increasing self-regulatory abilities, (domain 2) increasing relational capacities, and (domain 3) increasing psychological resources for student wellbeing. These three domains are conceived as developmental aims to strengthen teacher practice with the knowledge of underlying causes of student resistance and other concerning classroom behaviours.

TIPE takes a three-tiered approach to learning, which is grounded in a strengths-based perspective. Like other models, Tier 1 begins with repairing the student’s regulatory abilities. Tier 2 focuses on repairing disrupted attachments. Building upon prior trauma aware models, Tier 3 focuses on increasing the young person’s psychological resources, drawing on the young person's strengths to promote post-traumatic growth.

By focusing on healing while simultaneously providing pathways towards post-traumatic growth, TIPE expands the possibilities for teaching and learning in the classroom. TIPE seeks to facilitate student engagement through bottom-up integration with top-down strategies. Bottom-up integration suggests that students require multiple-opportunities during the day to align and connect their body’s internal capacities, including regulation of the stress response and co-regulation through strong attached relationships. Below is link to full article by Tom Brunzell which you may find useful read.

Article by Tom Brunzell

Dr Tom Brunzell has experience as a teacher, school leader, researcher and education advisor. Currently he is the Director of Education at Berry Street and Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne Graduate School of Education.Dr Tom Brunzell presents internationally on topics of transforming school culture, student engagement, trauma aware practice, wellbeing and positive psychology, and effective school leadership. His research at the University of Melbourne investigates both the negative impacts of secondary traumatic stress and the positive impacts of wellbeing on teachers and leaders working towards educational equity in their new book: Creating Trauma-informed Strengths Based Classrooms, co-authored with Dr Jacolyn Norrish, is now available as part of Berry Street's professional development resources and bookstore, as well as booksellers world-wide.

Access free e-publication here:

Trauma-Aware Practice and Positive Education | SpringerLink

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