Teaching is a challenging profession, but when you are injured by a student in the classroom, it can create trauma that no one ever prepares you for in teacher prep college classes.
So how does one cope after being significantly injured by a student?
There is no easy answer and, as with all trauma, no right or wrong way to handle the emotions that come up surrounding the event. For some, it may not impact them immediately, and the emotional reaction will be delayed by days or weeks… or even years. For others, the trauma creates an instant response that causes everything from fear to anger to depression.
We asked veteran teachers how they have coped with the trauma of being injured by a student in the past, and they shared their tips for dealing with the situation.
Remember, everyone is unique, and what works for some may not work for others. The most important thing to remember is that you need to take care of yourself.
Ways to Cope with the Trauma of Being Injured by a Student
Time and time again, teachers who have been injured by students stress the importance of seeking out therapy. It is important to have a safe place to process the emotions that come with the traumatic event, and therapy can provide that.
Some teachers recommended it for the short term, while others suggested keeping with it for the long haul as you never know when the emotions of the trauma will resurface.
Take Time Off of Work
If a student seriously injures you, take time off of work to heal. Not only do you need to recover from the incident physically, but you also need time to process what happened. That is hard to do if you’re back in the classroom teaching full-time the next day. Give yourself permission to take time off.
Understand That it was Not Your Fault
As teachers, we take a lot of responsibility upon ourselves, and when things do not go to plan, we tend to see it as something that we did or did not do.
If a student injures you, it was NOT your fault.
You had no control over the situation, and there’s nothing you could have done to change it. It is not your fault that you were injured – ever.
Realize That You Are Not Alone
While it may seem like you are the only one who has been injured by a student, realize that there are thousands of other educators who have been in your shoes.
Reach out. Talk with other teachers who have been there. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.
Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
One way that others have dealt with the trauma of being injured in school is to start a healthy meditation and mindfulness practice. While meditating may seem like the last thing you want to do, being able to practice deep breathing and slowing down your thoughts can be therapeutic.
Talk with your counselor about ways to include meditation and mindfulness in your recovery.
Talk with Your Administrators About How to Stop It from Happening Again
While some teachers may believe that being injured by students is just part of the job, having a traumatic injury because of a child’s behavior is never something you signed up for.
Talk with your administrators about how to protect yourself and other staff. Follow the law and the school’s behavior plan to put consequences in place. If your administrators are not willing to step up to prevent it from happening again, take a good look at your feelings about that and how it might affect you if the same thing happened again.
A Teacher’s Trauma
Your trauma is real. Your anger, frustration, fear, and grief are real. Don’t underestimate the toll that the trauma of being seriously injured by a student can take. Get the help you need and make sure supports are in place to protect you before returning to the classroom.
Above all, take the time you need to heal both physically and emotionally. You will get through this.
What tips do you have for someone who has experienced a traumatic experience due to a student behavior? Tell us in the comments below.