This article draws on the concept of the psychoanalytic frame to argue that SEL and trauma-informed practices, as codified constructs, might be excessively rigid when it comes to making sense of children's and teacher's emotional worlds. Drawing on vignettes from observations in a third-grade classroom where there is not yet a mandate for SEL, the author shows how sometimes, the very absence of a codified approach to children's difficult behaviors and emotions can lead to an increase in their sense that they are seen and heard by their teacher and by one another.

Author Biography

Clio Stearns

Clio Stearns is an Assistant Professor of Education at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, MA. She teaches classroom management and other foundational elementary education courses and supervises student teachers. Her scholarship focuses on affect in classroom life, the relationship between emotion and behavior in childhood, and on how some psychoanalytic theory can help us understand children’s and teachers’ experiences in school. Currently, she is involved in a research project about consent in the childhood classroom.



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