This is also why I love massage and working with people’s bodies through trauma-informed yoga, Pilates, & expressive arts. She is the coauthor of The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students (Harvard Education Press, 2012) and author of The Behavior Code Companion: Strategies, Tools, and Interventions for Supporting Students with Anxiety-Related or Oppositional Behaviors (Harvard Education Press, 2014). Trauma-Informed Communication Many resources are available on developmentally appropriate interviewing and counseling of children and youth. Or "I am good at fixing things. Trauma sensitive: The workplace can operationalise some concepts of a trauma-informed approach. This uncertainty leaves the teacher in a constant state of hyper-alertness when interacting with the student. Second, the pervasive effects of trauma on the developing brain make it harder from some children to benefit from intervention. Yet the impact could have been greater had she written and shared those strategies with Ms. Finch and the rest of Trevor's team via a shared document, behavior plan, or student success plan (Minahan, 2019). 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Up to two-thirds of U.S. children have experienced at least one type of serious childhood trauma, such as abuse, neglect, natural disaster, or experiencing or witnessing violence. These switching activities are called cognitive distractions or thought breaks and are incompatible with negative thinking. The academic consequences of feeling unsafe at school. Common classroom management strategies often only exasperate this tendency. Adverse childhood experiences. The student can better tolerate uncomfortable feelings when they know help and a positive interaction are coming. If Ms. Carlton had written down the successful strategies she used with Trevor, the list might have started with avoiding authoritative directives such as, "Pick that up." In this article, which is excerpted from my book The Trauma-Sensitive Classroom: Building Resilience with Compassionate Teaching, we’ll explore how to build caring relationships with trauma-exposed students and how to help them build positive relationships with their peers.Admittedly, this is no easy task. (2014). Four Key Assumptions of the Trauma-Informed Approach (SAMHSA): Create your own unique website with customizable templates. Grounded in research and the authors’ experience working with trauma-affected students and their teachers, Fostering (2013). Speaking to a victim about trauma requires substantial thought and intention Some of the ways that people communicate to trauma victims is not trauma sensitive by any stretch of the imagination. Traumatized students often engage in inaccurate thinking, tending to focus on the negative. Play Like a Champion provides the following information to help coaches understand trauma and to respond to trauma … 4. I don't want to trip and fall!" It is one of the most common accommodations that we offer to students who seem dysregulated. On the other hand, Ms. Carlton responded to such moments at the beginning of the year by validating Trevor's feelings ("I am sorry you are upset" or "I see that you are angry"). It is essential that adults become aware of the prevalence and impact of trauma, and learn to apply a “trauma lens” (i.e., gain the capacity to view children’s difficulties in behavior, learning, and relationships as natural reactions to trauma that warrant understanding and sensitive care). Lacoe, J. Trauma-exposed students may interfere with classroom learning, which can be frustrating. Brooks, R. (2003). This allowed Trevor time to decompress and respond rationally. Language matters and words have power. ➛ Think about one of your students who struggles with behavior. I have no idea where her reaction came from." When teachers are proactive and responsive to the needs of students suffering from traumatic stress and make small changes in the classroom that foster a feeling of safety, it makes a huge difference in their ability to learn. This predictable check-in pairs the negative thoughts the student may have ("I don't know how to do this") with a reassuring thought ("But my teacher will be here in seven minutes!"). Trauma Sensitive School. Prior to meetings, pr… Some examples of policies that schools often review as they become trauma sensitive include: discipline policies; communication procedures; and safety planning. It is helpful to smile and explicitly say when you are happy with the student, a strategy Ms. Carlton utilized. Click on keywords to see similar products: Common teacher practices such as ignoring inappropriate behavior, sending students to the office, or sending younger kids to sit alone at a back table or in the hallway can unintentionally trigger students who have experienced abandonment or neglect. Ms. Carlton found this strategy comforting to Trevor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. We need to counter this effect with positive experiences. instead of simply telling him to "line up." Trevor could get Ms. Finch to react immediately by flipping his water bottle noisily, but could go 20 minutes without so much as eye contact from her when he was quietly reading. Verbal communication is of course important, but our bodies communicate our Truth alot more than most people realize. They often haven't learned to express emotions healthily and instead show their distress through aggression, avoidance, shutting down, or other off-putting behaviors. Ms. Carlton instinctively knew that a more private nonverbal direction could be less confrontational for a student in "fight or flight" mode. Whenever Ms. Carlton could see she wouldn't have time for this in the 10-day period, she asked the counselor or special education teacher to cover her class for two minutes so she could go for a walk with Trevor. Using Trauma Sensitive Language. Phone One way to understand these reactions is to think of the student as a soda can, and events that may trigger their trauma stress as shaking that can. The journey towards becoming a trauma sensitive school is one that builds over time—with knowledge, skills and practice. Ms. Finch would ignore Trevor when he was expressing anger, such as by crumpling up a paper, growling, or slinging a book from his desk onto the floor. By using trauma-sensitive strategies in the classroom, we can help reduce the times our students are "shaken.". ​Both students and staff feel both physical and psychological safety, Environment is created with safety in mind, The safety of students is the highest priority, Staff have an awareness of the student's previously experienced trauma, Environment is inviting with shared spaces, Organizational operations and decisions are done with transparency, Goal of building and maintaining trust with students and families, All those involved with students are aware of the current needs and issues, Collaboration with peers about their experiences, We learn from others who have had similar experiences, Strong relationships with students and staff, Active collaboration with parents and outside care providers, Collaboration with all role players (e.g., custodian, office staff, bus driver), Student strengths and experiences are recognized, School staff have a belief that all students can recover and heal from trauma, Recognition that focus on the recovery from trauma can unify the team, Both students and staff are encouraged and empowered, Students are actively involved in the process of recovery, Shared decision making and goal setting (student-led IEPs), Staff facilitate recovery, rather than dictate recovery, Appropriate organization support for teachers, Staff must feel safe just as much as students, ​Organization moves past cultural stereotypes and biases, Incorporation of policies, protocols, and processes that are responsive to racial, ethnic, and cultural needs. 2. A culturally-sensitive, trauma-informed care provider can help traumatized children and families by: Recognizing cultural variations in the subjective perception of trauma and traumatic stress responses Understanding the role of beliefs in the interpretation of trauma and the recovery process Instead, Ms. Carlton could have told Ms. Finch that she greeted Trevor every day at the classroom door and asked him about the Avengers or basketball. Phi Delta Kappan, 98(6), 35–41. Jessica Minahan is a licensed and board-certified behavior analyst, special educator, and consultant to schools internationally. Watch this webinar to learn the basics of trauma and how to use trauma-sensitive language verbally and in writing to support recovery while still meeting the deficit-based requirements of most insurance companies. The trauma-sensitive classroom: Building resilience with compassionate teaching. If a student is triggered and experiencing heightened emotion, even a benign direction such as, "Please move over to make room for Jenny" could result in an "explosion" that the teacher never saw coming. Creating Trauma-Sensitive School Environments to Promote School Success for Children and Youth Who Have Experienced Complex Trauma, 2013; Joyce Dorado, Ph.D, Project Director, UCSF HEARTS (Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in Schools) Phases of Acting-Out Behavior and De-Escalation Strategies; 2012, Su Y. Here are some examples. The effects of trauma on communication Trauma, whether it is multiple, repetitive, or one time events can affect every single person differently. This way adults are communicating, "I like you for who you are," not "I like you when you behave the right way.". (2018). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. ASCD respects intellectual property rights and adheres to the laws governing them. Trauma is possibly the largest public health issue facing our children today (CDC, 2019). Minahan, J. For older students, you might try Mad Libs, trivia, or more abstract strategies such as counting all the green items in the room, saying the alphabet backwards, or thinking of the first 10 lines of a favorite movie. What small changes are you willing to try in your classroom to foster a sense of safety among traumatized students? Behavior is communication, and we've looked at how traumatized students often communicate feelings through their behavior. Providing predictability through visual schedules of the class agenda or school day can help. Terrasi, S., & de Galarce, P. C. (2017). Pages 30-35. ISSUE BRIEF: Key Ingredients for Successful Trauma -Informed Care Implementati on 4 communication strategies are just beginning to emerge, and each organization will need to take its size and structu re into account when developing ways to discuss trauma -informed care. Preparing Trauma-Sensitive Teachers: Strategies for Teacher Educators Connie Honsinger, Ph.D Chesterfield County Public Schools Mavis Hendricks Brown, Ph.D. University of Richmond Abstract Many children who attend school have or will experience some type of trauma that may impact cognition, behavior, and relationships (Van Der Kolk, 2014). that can last into adulthood. Subscribe to ASCD Express, our free email newsletter, to have practical, actionable strategies and information delivered to your email inbox twice a month. Metairie, LA: The Center for Development and Learning. These actions can feel antagonistic to teachers who don't understand the root cause of the student's behavior, which can lead to misunderstandings, ineffective interventions, and missed learning time. Not everyone wants to or needs to speak about the past. The behavior code: A practical guide to understanding and teaching the most challenging students. Both Ms. Carlton and Ms. Finch used breaks with Trevor, but in vastly different ways. The Trauma-Informed School approach creates an atmosphere of emotional and physical safety that mitigates the effects of ACEs. Be Specific About Relationship Building. HOW TO USE THIS RESOURCE How could you help him "switch the channel" when he is upset? Alexandria, VA 22311-1714, October 2019 | Volume 77 | Number 2 Executive function and PTSD: Disengaging from trauma. This article adds to that guidance by highlighting considerations that arise when accounting for trauma’s effects. This in turn can result in fatigue, as the teacher is guarded and unable to predict what will happen from one moment to another. Monday through Friday Trauma responsive: Individuals and the organisation recognise and respond to trauma enabling changes in behaviour and strengthening resilience and protective factors. This typically ended in a power struggle and Trevor's escalating behavior. When I grow up, I could work with kids." Trauma-Sensitive School Approach Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have lasting emotional and health consequences for children. Neuropharmacology, 62(2), 686–694. Educator teams need to ask themselves, "Does the student feel competent during the day?" Retrieved from For example, a principal might say, "If you get all your homework done this week, you and I will have lunch together!" Trauma sensitive language. Stating the reason first assured that Trevor knew the context (and necessity) of the demand. The first time, the note will need to be explained: "If you don't understand something in class, please don't worry—I am going to check on you during independent work time at 11:45, and I will answer any questions you have then." Making School a Safe Place When speaking to someone who has been through trauma, particularly about that trauma, you need to think carefully before you speak and speak with intention. ➛ As Minahan writes, "Students can't learn if they don't feel safe." Reducing the anxiety of an already stressful IEP process for families requires a team that is responsive, inviting and open-minded, particularly given the negative impact of caregiver stress on children and youth. Ms. Carlton would say, "Oh dear, I hope I don't fall. (2019). (2019). When they are with a safe and supportive adult, their behavior reflects that. Consider this scenario drawn from schools I've worked with: Trevor, a 6th grader whose father overdosed on heroin two years ago and who has witnessed ongoing domestic abuse throughout his childhood, was in Ms. Carlton's class for part of the day and Ms. Finch's class for the other part. How many of us have seen frequent movement breaks on a student's IEP or student success plan? Minahan, J., & Rappaport, N. (2012). They say things like, "But he was fine this morning, I didn't see that coming!" The problem with this is that if the student doesn't get all their homework done, then the principal withholds their attention and time. Unfortunately, saying, "Build a relationship" is too vague and leaves too much up to the teacher's instincts. Instead, we need to help them "change the channel." Interaction strategies are a type of accommodation that typically go unnamed and unwritten, but they were the reason that Trevor could feel safe and access the curriculum (Minahan & Rappaport, 2012). A listening center or "find the picture" activity can be helpful to young children. CDC. It is important that students experience competence to develop a more accurate self-narrative and to begin to create a positive future picture of themselves. When adults can't sleep, we often read a book or watch TV, which distracts us from uncomfortable thoughts so we can fall back asleep. Ms. Carlton skillfully used relationship-building and interaction strategies to work with Trevor. This is a much more empathetic approach, will preserve the relationship, and will avoid triggering a trauma response in the student. At one point in the year, Ms. Carlton told Ms. Finch that … If the teacher has many students in the class that could benefit from this, she could transfer the strategy to small groups: "I will check on this desk group at X time.". 1703 North Beauregard St. Trauma‐sensitive communication reflects an understanding of the impact of trauma and the needs of trauma survivors during health care encounters. 1703 North Beauregard St. Instead of saying, "No backpacks on the floor. Ms. Carlton taught Trevor to do Star Wars trivia when he was upset, which helped him calm down quickly. Small changes in classroom interactions can make a big difference for traumatized students. We explored whether provider gender sensitivity is associated with positive ratings of trauma‐sensitive communication among women veteran patients. When he was with Ms. Finch, however, he was sent to the office nearly three times a week for explosive behavior. She repeated this trust-building strategy several times throughout the year, especially after he exhibited anger or frustration and after school vacations and long weekends. TRAUMA SENSITIVE STRATEGIES. Phi Delta Kappan, 100(6), 56–59. The teacher is 50 percent of every interaction with a student: By changing the way we give a direction or respond, we can reduce problematic behavior. We need to remember that when some of our students were young and cried, no one came. Too scared to learn? To give Trevor a sense of control, Ms. Carlton always embedded choice in her directions, asking, "Do you want to be in the front of the line or the back of the line?" Trauma aware: Staff understand trauma, its effects and survivor adaptations. Many traumatized students interpret information through a negativity amplifier. First, teachers must learn to put students' reactions into context—and not to take them personally. We can't tell by looking if the can was recently shaken, but if it was, opening the can results in an unexpected explosive, messy reaction. Could you please move your backpack?" One ineffective staff member can … Trauma is a big issue that can ultimately affect how a child learns. Ms. Carlton also conveyed respect and transparency by providing the reason behind each direction. Early traumatic experiences can make the body’s stress response systems hyper-sensitive, putting kids’ “fight-flight-or-freeze” response on a hair trigger ( … Address For Coaches: How to be Trauma Sensitive & Responsive in your Coaching Young people today are exposed to a variety of situations that may induce trauma. We want them to say, "I really helped that student with her artwork. Building positive relationships with students struggling with mental health. Sensitive service strengthens relationships by building trust, enhancing a sense of security and promoting compassionate communications. A teacher's behavior can also feel unpredictable to traumatized students. To counter this imbalance and create an overall feeling of safety, teachers can use predictable positive attention (Minahan, 2014). She could have told Ms. Finch how she used the "two by ten" rule; she talked to him for two minutes a day for 10 days in a row about topics unrelated to academics or behavior. Teachers are in a position of power, and these students may be overly defensive, anticipating adult criticism, or defiant, as a way to assert control (Jennings, 2018). Another practice to be cautious about is using time with a preferred adult as an incentive. Schools can consider the following strategies to improve the IEP experience for families: 1. Because predictability is comforting to students with anxiety and trauma histories, they may resort to getting the teacher's attention through inappropriate means. Explain the hazards of negative language, especially to children, young adults and families who have experienced trauma. At one point in the year, Ms. Carlton told Ms. Finch that building a relationship with Trevor was key to her success with him, and she suggested that Ms. Finch do the same. Conversely when Ms. Finch had Trevor go for a walk, his negative thinking would escalate, and he would often not return to class. Working Paper #02–13. This component of the Training Package is intended for school leaders and introduces a framework and process for adopting a trauma-sensitive approach schoolwide, including guidance for how to roll-out other package components. When a student thinks negatively, the negative moments during the day tend to weigh more heavily than the positive moments. A trauma sensitive school moves away from the typical paradigm in which classroom teachers have primary responsibility for their respective students to one based on shared responsibility requiring teamwork and ongoing, effective communication throughout the school. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. The majority of human communication is non-verbal. During independent work time, if a teacher says to a student "Great work! All staff must be actively implementing trauma sensitive practices throughout the school day (e.g., the staff greeting at the front door, the lunch staff interacting with the student, paraprofessionals assisting with work tasks). Self-worth, resilience, and hope: The search for islands of competence. Identify negative language. We recognize that most people are well-meaning in … Jennings, P. A. Ms. Carlton had a reputation of working well with hard-to-reach kids, and sure enough, Trevor behaved in a stellar way in her class. It is not enough to have one effective staff member, while others lack the skills or desire to implement such practices. This prepared Trevor and thus elicited a calmer response. ➛ Do you routinely share—and exchange ideas about—what's working with a traumatized student? 2020 QPI National Conference: Implementing Trauma-Sensitive Practice with Adolescents in Foster Care in Times of Crisis Ken Ginsberg, MD MS Ed - Co-Founder & Director of Programs/ Professor of Pediatrics, Center for Parent and Teen Communications, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia | Jennifer Rodriguez - Executive Director, Youth Law Center. Not knowing what is coming next can put anyone on high alert, especially traumatized students. Using predictable positive attention, however, the teacher can say, "I am going to check on you in 10 minutes," put a timer on the student's desk, and add, "Come tap me on the shoulder when the timer goes off." Students can't learn unless they feel safe. This helped prevent a poor reaction (Minahan, 2019). 3. Alexandria, VA 22311-1714. Ignoring them can trigger a trauma response and make them feel the teacher doesn't like them or is even happy that they are upset. Institute for Education and Social Policy. More than 400+ videos combine with written chapters and an enhanced website platform to show how strength-based communication engages and … The behavior code companion: Strategies, tools, and interventions for supporting students with anxiety-related or oppositional behaviors. Trevor, like many traumatized students, had experienced a loss of control in his life, and power struggles with an authoritative figure were particularly triggering. It is better to use one-to-one time with students in a noncontingent way. She would write, "Please stop tapping" on a piece of paper, put it gently on Trevor's desk without his peers noticing, and then give him space by walking away quickly. Teachers can use the same principle for kids with trauma and anxiety: Teach students that their brain is like a remote control that they can use to "switch the channel" to help them calm down (Minahan & Rappaport, 2012). When giving negative feedback, teachers can use the positive sandwich approach—starting and ending with a positive comment: (1) "I love how you remembered the formula," (2) "You made a small calculation error there," (3) "Great job getting problem #3 correct.". Aupperle, R. L., Melrose, A. J., Stein, M. B., & Paulus, M. P. (2012). When students are working independently and quietly—doing what they are supposed to be doing—they don't know when they will get the teacher's attention. Meanwhile, the amygdala becomes even more sensitive once it is activated, meaning a traumatized child may have hair-trigger responses to unprocessed emotional memories related to their trauma or stressors. I have a bad knee! We need to be aware of the words we choose, the tone we use and how we phrase our questions. How Students Respond to Trauma. Description. Trauma and learning in America's classrooms. Trauma-Sensitive Schools: Learning Communities Transforming Children’s Lives (Chapters 5 and 7), Teachers College Press (2016) 5 Emotional & Physiological R egulation School staff model emotional regulation by interacting with adults and students in a respectful manner. Teachers' behavior is also communication—and it may not be communicating the message we are striving to send. A trauma-informed approach, in part, means that the school team acknowledges the potential impact of adversity and stress on students and families, even if families never disclose such adversity. Sending a 1st grader to a "calming chair" can leave her to perseverate on worrying thoughts. Ms. Carlton was adamant about previewing any changes to the normal routine ahead of time (saying, "We are going to have indoor recess today because of the snow," or "The DVD player isn't working so we can't watch a science video at the end of class today").
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