The Community Building module offers educators suggestions for building a positive classroom environment, whether that is in a building or in a virtual environment. Students learn best when they feel safe and supported. Creating a trauma-responsive environment is crucial to building community and relationships, from the first day of school and throughout the year.
- Recall a variety of strategies for making connections with students throughout the schools year, both in person or in a distanced learning format.
- Understand multiple avenues for creating a trauma-responsive classroom environment that validates students’ and teachers’ experiences with trauma.
- Incorporate class-building and team-building activities to help build relationships, in person or virtually.
- Access state and national resources to learn more about building community.
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- How can I establish a trauma-responsive environment, knowing most of my students will now come into my classroom having faced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE)?
- Why is it important to make time to build relationships, knowing it takes additional time, and my students might need even extra academic support this year?
- From the strategies I heard, which ones are most likely to fit naturally with my classroom instruction, and where could I incorporate them?
Module Resource Document
Ed Kappeler taught for four years at Middle River Middle School for Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland before moving to Missouri. For the past 23 years he has taught English at Pacific High School in the Meramec Valley R3 School District, where he also acts as the speech director. Ed was named South Central District speech coach of the year in 2014.He is the 2017 Meramec Valley R3 teacher of the year, a South Central Teacher of the Year, and a Missouri State Teacher of the Year finalist.
Shelly Parks is a high school English teacher in St. Charles, MO at Francis Howell North High School. Her influence goes beyond her own classroom and even her own school, where she has spent years public speaking and offering training and professional development to staff and other educational leaders. Shelly considers her greatest teaching accomplishment when students decide to join her in the education profession. Shelly is a recruiter of future teachers, an advocate for equitable learning opportunities for all students, a lover of cooperative learning, and a proponent of teachers creating greater work-life balance. She is a National Board Certified teacher who has received numerous awards, including the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award and Missouri’s Teacher of the Year for 2019.
Stacia Studer has served the Saint Joseph community as a reading & writing teacher for the last 19 years. There is power in literacy, and Stacia believes literacy is the greatest gift a child could ever receive. She centers reading and writing lessons on Malorie Blackman’s quote, “Reading is an exercise in empathy, an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.” Her desire to help shape and mentor young children to become change-agents and use their gifts to positively impact our world has been her life’s work. In 2016, she was awarded the Saint Joseph School District Teacher of the Year. Then in 2017, she was awarded the Northwest Regional Teacher of the Year. She earned a masters and specialist in school principalship and is currently working on a doctorate in educational leadership through William Woods. She loves studying best practices in education and is excited for a new role as a curriculum advisor with the Saint Joseph School District this 2020-2021 school year.
Rachael Wilcox is a First Grade teacher at Independence Elementary School in the Francis Howell School District. She has presented at various state and national conferences about weaving character education and social emotional learning into the classroom. Additionally, she has served as an implementation consultant for Character Strong and is on the Practitioner Advisory Board for the Learner Variability Project with Digital Promise. Rachael enjoys inspiring educators but her most significant impact has been in the hearts of her students.
Rachael Wilcox received her Bachelor of Education from McKendree University and Master of Special Education (4-12) from Arkansas State University. Rachael was named FHSD Special Education Teacher of the Year (2012), Independence’s Teacher of the Year (2018), FHSD Teacher of the Year (2019), Missouri Regional Teacher of the Year (2019), Horace Mann Friend of Education award (2020), and Missouri Teacher of the Year Finalist (2020).