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The Influence of Trauma in the Classroom

  • The Influence of Trauma in the Classroom

The CEIIA is leading a new professional development workshop series designed to strengthen the teaching skills of ELL practitioners who work with refugee learners. The workshop series is part of a two-year project undertaken by the CEIIA and funded by Calgary Learns

Thirty-seven ELL practitioners had the opportunity to participate in the professional development workshop The Influence of Trauma in the Classroom on May 23. The workshop was facilitated by Karin Linschoten, Clinical Director, Health and Wellbeing Services at Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. Karin shared her extensive expertise and wisdom in this full-day workshop that focused on the pre-migration context of refugee learners, as well as the impact of PTSD in the ELL classroom.

Part One: Understanding the Pre-Migration Context

In part one of the workshop, participants learned about pre-migration experiences and adaptive behaviors which might be misinterpreted in the Canadian context. Karin also shared about the role shifts in newcomer families and the consequences for the family. Participants learned about ways to increase communication with learners and had opportunity to reflect in small groups.

The workshops deepened my understanding of behaviors that are a result of trauma. I learned strategies for the classroom that can easily be implemented.

Part Two: Trauma, Learning, and Strategies for the Classroom

In part two of the workshop, participants learned about the differences between a resilient nervous system and an over-activated nervous system. Karin shared in depth about the impact of trauma on the brain and the resulting physical and emotional reactions. Participants learned about strategies for the classroom, including:

  • Starting the day with contact making
  • Setting up the class in a U-shape
  • Keeping in mind the difficulties of concentration and memory
  • Having a clear routine - and if it is changing, prepare learners
  • Allowing learners choices in group work
  • Using movement as a way to relax and release tension

Karin also discussed the signs of compassion fatigue and stressed the importance of self-care for the ELL practitioner. This workshop will be offered in a condensed webinar format in Fall 2017.

To learn more about this professional development workshop series, visit the ELL Training Network.

Join us for our upcoming webinar: Compassion Fatigue and Self-Care on June 20, 2017 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.



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This was a great workshop - both highly informative and practical. It definitely increased my awareness, and I really appreciated the opportunity to attend.