Skip to Main Content

Coastal Scholars Showcase 2021: Finding Joy in Teaching and Learning: Trauma-Informed Strategies


Presentation Details

Presenter: Dr. Claire Hughes 

Title: Associate Professor of Education

Department: Education & Teacher Preparation



2020 was a bellwether year for mental health.  In schools, both students and teachers have been struggling with keeping students focused, learning and moving forward. We see the impacts of anxiety on performance in schools and jobs and our society. Happy people are more productive (Oswald, Proto & Sgroi, 2010) and can handle more adversity in situations, leading to greater persistence. Having the ability to sustain attention and effort when motivation may be considered low is widely understood to be related to the need for goal attainment and a mastery orientation. This session suggests that rather than trying to “re-wire” personality, teachers and managers relate their feedback to the individual’s perception of “happiness” and find a sense of playfulness.  A study of 172 individuals with significant mental health issues found that hope was a greater predictor of overall well-being than assessment of actual needs (Werner, 2012). “Therefore, mental health services should focus on hope-building.”- p. 214.  Building this positivistic perspective, however, can be challenging, especially in today’s schools.  This session suggests strategies that rather than trying to “re-wire” personality, teachers and parents relate their feedback to a student’s perception of hope and happiness.  Using Martin Seligman’s types of happiness (Peterson & Seligman, 2004) as the foundation, this session will describe suggests appropriate forms of feedback that will increase a person’s persistence and coping ability.  Both teachers and students can find their way through trauma through internal and external strategies that help rebuild hope.  


 Dr. Claire Hughes