Equity & Access Newsletter
The Importance of Trauma Informed
When our students enter the classroom, they bring with them a short lifetime of experiences - some barely imaginable in our lives. Our students could be victims of poverty, violence, hunger, or abuse. Springfield Public Schools ensures that all of our buildings are responsive to the needs of students who have experienced trauma. Alison Roffers is the Coordinator of School Counseling for the district. She says that trauma-informed is more than just a set of practices.
“Trauma-informed is a mindset. It’s not a magic fix. It's something that we do with the kids. It’s building the climate in the classroom and raising awareness for yourself,” Roffers said.
According to a study by the National Survey of Children’s Health, almost half of the children in the United States (approximately 35 million kids) have experienced “at least one or more types of serious childhood trauma.”It is crucial for educators to be aware of the symptoms of trauma and learning responses to maximize students’ academic and socio-emotional potential.
Trauma can be broken down into these eight categories, according to the work of Bonnie L. Green, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Georgetown University:
- A threat to life or limb
- Severe physical harm or injury including sexual assault
- Receipt of intentional injury or harm
- Exposure to the grotesque
- Violent, sudden loss of a loved one
- Witnessing or learning of violence to a loved one
- Learning of exposure to a noxious agent
- Causing death or severe harm to another
As teachers, becoming “trauma-informed” means knowing how trauma alters how victims see their world. Trauma-informed allows teachers to build practices that honor the reality of trauma and assists the victims in learning how to manage their feelings and behaviors in socially appropriate ways.
“Teachers need to take the mindset of not taking things personally and maybe not doing things the way they have always done them,” says Roffers. “Educators need to think about how they can make their classrooms feel more inclusive and how they can build relationships with students to have a more positive impact on everyone.”
To build trauma-informed practices in the classroom, Springfield Public Schools has resources available for educators. Roffers says that counselors across the district will receive the book, Ten Steps to Create an Informed School, from the National Institute of Trauma and Loss in Children. Roffers hopes counselors will take on a leadership role in helping schools become trauma-informed.
“They will become educators to the other educators in the building as what trauma-informed means,” Roffers said. “So it doesn’t become one of those abstract things that we’re doing, make it more tangible, but not overwhelming.”
You can view the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Trauma-Informed Schools Initiative and other useful resources through the SPS Counseling Services website (https://www.sps.org/Page/2546).
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