How do we support educator wellbeing?

A look into Trauma Informed Reflective Supervision

In a typical school year, our emotional capacity as educators and school administrators often feels stretched thin. We give so much and anticipate the needs of others so frequently that the focus on our own wellbeing can be overlooked. Then came 2020, a year where we are all facing varying levels of adversity and trauma, and we realize our emotional capacity as educators and administrators is the foundation to a safe and stable school environment.

Human connection and communication build our emotional resilience and lead to a deeper understanding of the world around us. For professionals that deal day in and day out with vicarious trauma, space for reflection and connection can be downright essential but how do we access this? Lunchrooms are unstructured and can often be a space where people vent more than reflect. Facebook groups offer community but lack confidentiality and deeper connection. In a time of physical distancing, we have to put in more thought and effort to maintain supportive social ties. After witnessing high rates of turnover of educators and administrators at the schools I worked at, I developed a model for building emotional resilience called Trauma Informed Reflective Supervision. It is a structured space for professionals to discuss experiences, thoughts, and feelings directly connected with the work we do. This model of professional peer support reduces burnout and helps professionals build emotional resilience. How can you change without reflecting? How do we listen to each other in a way that promotes growth and healing?

Trauma Informed Reflective Supervision, defined.

TI Reflective Supervision groups create a safe place for people to honestly discuss their work and the impact that it has on them in order to build resilience, implement strategies, address bias and foster happiness at work. We’ve found that receiving empathy from peers increases your own emotional capacity, so you can be there for others. Reflective Supervision is a research based technique that has shown to increase skills while reducing isolation and staff turnover. These sessions are recommended for educators of all backgrounds — whether you’re a teacher, a principal, an administrator or a counselor — we offer small groups often related to your unique role. You will meet with a small group of educators from around the country each month for a 2 hour facilitated session. Participants who have invested in their own wellbeing have seen the results ripple throughout their professional and personal lives.

“[Trauma Informed Reflective Supervision] should be mandatory for any site administrator. It helped me grapple with the demands (trauma) of being a principal and opened a pathway for me to begin to heal” — Principal Michael Essien

“It is helpful to me personally, as well as professionally. I plan to share what I am learning with staff, as we have a high population of students with trauma in their lives. I also now understand the importance of self-care to avoid burnout.” — Annie Flores-Aikey, Principal, Carquinez, Ca and graduate of the TIE program

How it Works

By delivering these Reflective Supervision sessions online, we remove several barriers to accessing services as well as allow our professionals to be in a setting where they are understood but also have anonymity for themselves and their students.

Throughout supervision and coaching, participants will analyze how one’s practices fit into the 6 Principles of Trauma Informed Care: safety, trustworthiness, transparency, collaboration, empowerment, historical/cultural/gender issues. These principles will be referenced to develop solutions to cases and challenges that he or she is sharing.

Creating a structured space to discuss complex emotions and challenges allows educators to feel heard and relieves stress. It also allows the staff person to experience the very sort of relationship that they are expected to provide for students and families in schools.

Here’s what a typical session looks like…

  • What have I accomplished? Sharing small wins
  • Where am I at? Collective Wellbeing assessment and discussion
  • What is happening? Time for Reflection/ Active Listening
  • What do I need? Mindfulness practice

We get it, it’s hard to ask for help and even harder to recognize when you need it. But by building up your own emotional capacity, you will have the skills and energy to foster growing relationships both in and out of work. This coaching technique teaches educators the benefits of listening and being heard by others, which makes one smarter and more compassionate, benefiting and improving all aspects of one’s life — relationships, career, and well-being.

To learn more about Trauma Informed Reflective Supervision or to sign up visit us at, graduate credits and Professional Development Units are available.

Ed Psych/Educator/Entrepreneur/Mom to a rad daughter. #TraumaInformed founder fighting for a more compassionate, equitable, and innovative world.

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