A woman sits in a library, studying with books and her laptop.

The Importance of Continuing Education for Teachers

I think everyone can relate to this analogy: “How would you like to go to a doctor who was not trained in the latest best practices nor their staff?” Especially since the pandemic, would you be comfortable entrusting your health to someone who was still doing everything in the same way they did twenty, ten, or, even five years ago? Well, the education of our children is no different.

Why is it Important to Continue Your Education as a Teacher?

Even before the pandemic, I realized that my students needed safer, more supportive, healing-centered learning environments. The trauma of the pandemic, the frightening rise of school and community gun violence, upsetting inflation, rising prices, along with all the other pressures our students and families are facing, demands that educators are equipped to teach students who may not always be ready to learn.

Because I am in Concordia University, St. Paul’s M.A.Ed. Trauma and Resilience in Education Settings, I am writing this blog from that perspective. But I think the times in which we live require teachers to continue to learn and implement methods and practices they can use to help all students cope with stress, anxiety, and dysregulation.

Often, my colleagues think “trauma-informed practices” are only for the “problem” kids. But, the truth is, that these practices are beneficial for all students and teachers. Our best students have not-so-good days, our traumatized students have many difficult days, and our special needs students struggle.

Add to that the pressures teachers face: never-ending, mind-numbing testing windows, endless administrative quests for data-driven change, lack of coverage when they or their colleagues must miss work for illness or other personal issues, and demands to “return to normal”, as if the last two years never happened.

You combine that all together and you can guess why test scores are down, suspensions and other disciplinary issues are up, teachers are leaving the profession in droves, or why such low numbers are entering. The bottom line is the educational landscape has changed.

Ways to Continue Your Education

Therefore, new and veteran teachers should consider improving their practice with continuing education. This does not have to be a whole program of study, if one truly does not have the time.

A great place to start for trauma-informed education are the books:

  • What Happened to You (Perry, B. & Winfrey, O., 2021)
  • The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog (Perry, B. & Szalavitz, M, 2017)
  • Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges Are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them (Greene, R.W., 2014)

Other great resources are the movie, “Paper Tigers” (Redford, J., Director, 2015), and checking if your school system offers professional development trauma-informed education, or going online and Googling “trauma-informed education.”

You’ll be amazed how many free webinars there are on this topic. And certainly, if you’re inclined to delve deeper and want to enroll in a program of study, I say go for it (make sure you check out Concordia University, St.Paul’s first!) When I researched programs, CSP’s description was the most appealing and seemed to harmonize most with my beliefs and goals.

The most important thing is to continue to gain the knowledge, tools, and skills you can use to build supportive, learning environments that foster resilience and healing for you and your students.