Harding High School

Trauma Informed School Newsletter - December 2015 Edition

What is all this talk I hear about "Trauma"?

Trauma is defined as “Experiencing or witnessing an event that involves actual or perceived threat of death or injury to oneself or another person and also results in feeling horrified, terrified, and helpless during the event.” ​
In addition, many people are experiencing toxic levels of stress. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) demonstrating how common traumatic events are. Importantly, the study also drew a correlation between the number of ACES and the level of poor health and/or social outcomes for people.

So what does this have to do with education?

Impact of ACES in the SCHOOL Setting:
•Worry about recurrence or consequences of violence

• Withdrawal from others or activities

• Irritability with friends, teachers, events

• Angry outbursts and/or aggression
• Decreased attention and/or concentration

• Absenteeism

• Increase in impulsivity

•Increased risk for substance abuse
•Negative impact on issues of trust and perceptions of others

•Over- or under-reacting to bells, physical contact, doors slamming, sirens, lighting, sudden movements

•Heightened difficulty with authority, redirection, or criticism
• Hyperarousal (e.g., sleep disturbance, tendency to be easily startled)

ALL OF THESE FACTORS ADD UP TO DIFFICULTY FOCUSING ON ACADEMIC INSTRUCTION AND/OR FOLLOWING ADULT DIRECTIVES.

Ways to Create Safety in your Classroom

How can I structure my classroom to increase sense of safety for my students?

  • Trusting Relationships

  1. Empathy

  2. Listening

  3. Reliability

  • Predictability

    • Routines

    • Structure

    • Explicit Rules

    • Explicit Expectations

  • Build community

    • Community circles

    • Morning meetings

    • The right to pass

    • Shared celebrations

    • Restorative practices

    • Inclusiveness

    • Respect for all

    • Appreciation of differences

What things do you notice that undermine safety?