Advocating for new teacher education standards is an encouraging step (“Why the New Teacher Ed. Standards Matter,” Sept. 18, 2013). However, the real spotlight needs to be on what that education includes. In their Commentary, Mary Brabeck and Christopher Koch agree that the status quo is not adequate. Neither is one-size-fits-all change. Higher standards for teachers and student education will never elevate achievement if instruction in how to reach and teach distressed students is not included.
It is imperative that teacher education include techniques that assure the emotional and learning needs of stressed urban and rural children living in poverty. Recent neuroscience research clearly indicates that changes in the early brain development of infants and preschoolers living in insecurity require trauma-informed classroom strategies for deep learning to evolve.
Neuroscience research confirms the importance of emotionally secure relationships between teacher and students. For improved academic outcomes, new teachers need to understand why students with toxic stress cannot learn when classroom climates include shame, rejection, and threats. Cognitive processing shuts down when stress envelops the classroom, and learning comes to a halt.
It is a tragic institutional failure to not equip new teachers with this critical neuroscience knowledge.
Education and Child Trauma Consultant