I have asked the question: how do we as educators create empowering experiences, especially for children who have experienced trauma, that will help them realize that they do not have to excel at every academic subject to be a good student or worthwhile?
As I began exploring this subject, I discovered some possible solutions, leveraging digital resources, that not only articulated what the classroom experience is like for both the student with trauma and the educator, but how language and technology can be used to empower a learner with trauma to articulate and set their personal learning goals. It is my opinion that these identified resources build positive relationships between a student with adverse childhood experiences, and their classmates and educators, which in turn helps these students to find their true value.
One of the resources that I explored was the development of Bitmoji Classrooms. In a 2021 article titled, 3 Familiar Tools That Enable Trauma-Informed Teaching, by Larissa McCauley, McCauley highlights that “setting up a Bitmoji Classroom can provide a uniform and interactive environment for students coping with trauma. Bitmoji Classrooms can be personalized and adapted to the specific needs of the students, and can create a fun and positive learning environment”. So how does a Bitmoji Classroom benefit students of trauma, and allow them to feel “worthwhile”? Bitmoji Classrooms provide students who have experienced trauma a way to have ownership over what they are feeling. For example, in a 2020 Educational article written by Dani Fitzgerald of The Times, titled, “Bitmoji Classroom: A Resource Hub to Assist Virtual, Hybrid Learning”, Fitzgerald states that “trauma can add an extra level of difficulty for young learners. In a traditional classroom, many teachers have a cool-down corner, where children are able to take a break from a math problem and relax their mind if needed…virtual and hybrid learning make grappling with emotions a bit more difficult”. In an example of a Bitmoji Classroom, Fitzgerald notes “everything in this classroom is clickable, including the lights, which takes students to resources that help them decompress, focus and calm down when they are feeling uneasy or overwhelmed. Bitmoji Classrooms are a unique complement to virtual and hybrid learning, and teachers say it’s getting young learners excited during an uncertain time.”
So what about augmented reality? Can augmented reality help support students who have experienced trauma feel worthwhile? In a 2017 online article by Stuart McDonald, titled, How Augmented Reality Might Help Trauma Victims, McDonald notes that “in dealing with traumatic events…one of the effective treatments is to return to a place of safety and play in the midst of learning how to handle traumatic events”. McDonald shares that augmented reality allows students who have experienced trauma “the freedom to zoom in and watch the physical expressions of each party in the conflict. If it gets too hard, they could zoom out or pan around the room to look at something more benign”. McDonald notes that educators “could have a library of possible stories to choose from – scripted, produced and acted by skilled professionals. In the process, students with trauma would have a chance to expose themselves to distressing scenarios in ways that they have complete control over and which educators could help manage their gradual exposure to. As they watch the story unfold, they have the chance to let its images become their own. As the images fill out, there is the potential for them to begin to take on some of that story and absorb it into their own autobiographical self. They can learn from fictional characters because they have control over their trigger points and can choose to engage the story at whatever angle is safest – and most powerful – for them”. For me, this is an amazing possibility for how technology in the classroom can not only provide entertaining and engaging education for all students, but for students who have experienced trauma, a true and direct positive impact on their educational experiences and learning.
I believe resources like Bitmoji Classrooms and Augmented Reality apply to the ISTE Standards for Coaches 1.1 Empowered Learner because they articulate what the classroom experience can be like for both the student with trauma and the educator with the use of digital tools. These articles highlight how language and technology can be used to empower a learner with trauma to articulate and set their personal learning goals; build positive relationships with their classmates and educators; and leverage technology to process their educational journey in a safe, healing, and empowering way.
Fitzgerald, Dani (2020). Bitmoji Classroom: A Resource Hub to Assist Virtual, Hybrid Learning. Beaver County Times. https://www.timesonline.com/story/news/education/2020/09/03/bitmoji-classroom-complements-virtual-hybrid-learning/5692300002/
McCauley, Larissa (2021): 3 Familiar Tools That Enable Trauma-Informed Teaching. E-School News. https://www.eschoolnews.com/2021/07/07/3-familiar-tools-that-enable-trauma-informed-teaching/2/
McDonald, Stuart (2017). How Augmented Reality Might Help Trauma Victims. Medium. https://medium.com/@stuartmcdonald_60154/how-augmented-reality-might-help-trauma-victims-8cd25cf9443d