Equity & Access Newsletter

Secondary Edition

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What one SPS site is doing to help students in trauma

As a teacher, you may want to ask, “How do I know if a student is experiencing trauma?” While it’s important to identify students who need support, we can use trauma-informed practices with every single student because they benefit all.

Think of it like adding accommodations for disability (wheelchair ramp - wide doors) to a building. Not every single person needs it, but they significantly remove barriers for those who do. It also signifies to everyone that the building is an accessible place. We can do the same thing for our students impacted by trauma when we remove barriers and use trauma-informed strategies as a whole school.

Administrators, teachers, and counselors across the district are becoming trauma-sensitive. Josh Groves, principal at Pleasant View Elementary and Middle School, is among that group. He said their teachers at Pleasant View have experienced different student behaviors than they have in the past.

“We want to be in a place as adults that we understand those situations with our kids, and we can provide supports and interventions and things that are effective for them,” said Groves. Pleasant View has started a three-year trauma-informed and conscious discipline program to prepare staff to become trauma-sensitive.

“As a staff, we do a good job already helping most kids feel safe and cared for. I think equipping teachers with the tools that will allow them to be successful with kids who sometimes struggle with discipline,” said Groves. “We need to create an environment that all of our kids feel safe and cared for and it’s a family.”

Some tips for becoming trauma-sensitive include:

  • Maintain usual routines.
  • Give children choices.
  • Set clear, firm limits for inappropriate behavior and develop logical—rather than punitive— consequences.
  • Recognize that behavioral problems may be transient and related to trauma.
  • Be sensitive to the cues in the environment that may cause a reaction in the traumatized child.
  • Warn children if you will be doing something out of the ordinary, such as turning off the lights or making a sudden loud noise.

Written by Teena Mahoney, English Teacher at Glendale High School.

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A moment of Reflection: what we aspire to be as Americans

Senator John McCain's passing gave me a moment of pause to think about where we are as a country and what we strive to be. Several people spoke about his heroism, patriotism, integrity, and how he spent his life serving his country.

Whether you personally agree with his politics or not I will let you make that determination. I remember during the 2008 presidential election some people questioned at the time Senator Obama's citizenship, his religion, and if he were a terrorist. Senator McCain would publicly denounce and correct people at his own rallies about the truth. I found it amazing at the time that a candidate would stand up for his opponent even if that type of rhetoric could help him win.

The nastiness of the 2016 election cycle continues to have a residue where incivility is becoming the norm. John McCain's passing reminded me that even when we don't agree we still need to hold ourselves accountable to a level of respect and civility. For us to continue to grow as a country with diverse perspectives, beliefs, and experiences; we must remember to continue to strive for that level of respect and civility; even when other options exist. What will you do when you strongly disagree with someone on an issue you believe to be true? Be John McCain or what's becoming the status quo?

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What's In Your Toolbox?

"That's So Gay" - Do You Really Know What You're Saying?

We hear people use the phrase "That's so gay" in schools, socially, and sometimes even in a professional setting. Do most people know or even think about what they're saying? The phrase is a slur that puts down another group a people. Even though most people don't mean any harm, the impact is still the same. The comment can be hurtful and can cause damage.

To address this issue, The Ad Council created an ad campaign to address this hurtful language. The ad is targeted to teens and adults to increase the level of awareness of how comments like this are unacceptable and to think about what you're saying before saying it. The Ad Council has partnered with the GSLEN organization to create the ThinkB4YouSpeak Guide. The guide was created for educators to address this issue which includes educational activities, discussion topics, and strategies on what to say and do to end name-calling, especially in schools.


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