Research Brief: The Impact of Teacher Engagement on Student Trauma

Research continues to confirm with great clarity what many parents and community leaders have been saying for years about students who grow up in challenging economic and social environments: Their learning potential is often impeded by the circumstances they must navigate each day. It is tempting, then, to ascribe the prospects for these students’ academic success to simply addressing conditions outside the classroom. In fact, teachers have tremendous capacity to empower these students to be successful in spite of their challenges. It requires teachers to gain a deeper understanding of how out-of-classroom events affect student learning, and to recognize how teachers’ attitudes and perspectives of students burdened by these challenges determine how well they will engage in the classroom and, as a result, learn. 

The aim of this research brief is to highlight current research on out-of-classroom challenges on student learning, the positive impact of programs that effectively address these challenges, and the capacity of teachers to create an environment for academic success. 

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