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NEA News

A Note from the Editor in Chief: Trauma Affects Our Students

The Winter 2017 NEA Today issue discusses how trauma affects children and how they learn and the role educators play in creating safe learning environments for students.
Published: 02/01/2017

Key Takeaways

  1. According to research, trauma that children endure from violence and other tragedies in their homes and neighborhoods cause changes in the brain. This issue tackles this topic as it relates to learning.
  2. According to one of the articles in this issue, “This is Your Student’s Brain on Trauma,” offers ways for educators to create trauma-informed classrooms.
  3. Another story in this issue, “Strong Unions, Strong Educators”, affiliates are organizing efforts such as home visits in Arizona and getting air conditioners in sweltering classrooms in Hawaii.

It’s troubling to think about some of the things our students witness in their neighborhoods, communities and, sometimes, their own homes: violence, evictions, arrests, overdoses, and more. Research shows that experiencing these kinds of frightening, high-stress, traumatic experiences causes the brain to change.  

Developing brain science has changed the way educators approach students who have endured traumatic experiences, and our cover story, “This is Your Student’s Brain on Trauma,” offers ideas for creating trauma-informed classrooms. This important work helps all children learn, and NEA members and affiliates are leading the way. A related story, “Keeping Schools Safe, Happy Places for All Students,” focuses on the important role educators play in providing safe school learning environments for all students.

Also in this issue, check out the collection of “Strong Unions, Strong Educators” stories, which show the vast spectrum of Association organizing work. From getting air conditioning in Hawaii schools and supporting new teachers in Yuma, Ariz., to negotiating for teacher home visits, NEA members and affiliates are taking the lead in improving student learning nationwide. 

Finally, this issue also recognizes the 20th anniversary of NEA’s Read Across America program. Originally created as a one-day celebration of reading on March 2, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, Read Across America has evolved into a year-round initiative with a focus on “Building a Nation of Diverse Readers.” 

We hope this issue prepares, inspires, and motivates you.


National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.