Equity and Access Newsletter

Elementary Edition February 2019

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Integrating Trauma-Informed Discipline

Our students spend more of their waking hours in school than any other single place. It is essential that as educators we create a supportive school environment for children who have experienced violence and trauma. The more information we have, the more significant the impact we will have on our student's lives. Effective trauma-informed discipline is a vital link to helping our students achieve success.

Effective trauma-informed discipline practices should maintain the psychological and physical safety for all students. It should be applied consistently, explained clearly, and used to help students learn positive alternatives to traumatic stress reactions. Therefore, positive behavioral intervention and a supportive framework for managing behaviors are necessary. The success of traumatic stress reactions in the classroom lies in the primary goal of helping the student obtain self-regulating behavior. Trauma can cause a student to feel powerless and very sensitive to threats or triggers. It is essential to change the child's perspective by intentionally establishing when the student is behaving as expected. Positive reinforcement is an incentive for giving the student the motivation for continuing to display self-control.

Trauma-Informed Discipline: Trauma-informed discipline acknowledges the role trauma plays in behavior and identifying practices that will provide appropriate consequences while promoting healthier behavior in the future. Examples include:

● Use disciplinary methods involving more than merely isolating students from peers.

● Make sure disciplinary infractions are handled promptly and are consistent with the standards outlined by the school.

● Restorative solutions (e.g., restorative circles) are employed to foster a positive and communicative school environment.

● Display signs that describe school rules or expectations throughout the school to remind students to be safe, respectful, and responsible.

● Designate a room or space where students are sent to after disruptive outbursts to clear their heads and reflect on their recent behavior (reflection room).

● Make sure disciplinary actions are applied consistently to all students for the same behavior.

●Recognize students negative or positive behaviors, along with the student's accomplishments and communicate them to parents promptly and consistently.

● All staff should provide targeted instructions regarding expectations for behavior.

●Address disproportionality by engaging, relevant stakeholders and experts in the community.

“Trauma-Informed Classrooms Technical Assistance Bulletin (School-Justice Partnership National Resource Center).” TTAC Online, ttaconline.org/Resource/JWHaEa5BS75K5CC-1G-IoQ/Resource-trauma-informed-classrooms-technical-assistance-bulletin-school-j.

Did You Know?

Inclusive Playgrounds

by Traci Bryan Equity Champion at McBride Elementary School

For many years we have worked diligently to make our classrooms inclusive and welcoming to all students. What we may have overlooked was ensuring our playgrounds are inclusive as well. Playgrounds provide an opportunity for children to develop their communication skills with peers. However, students with physical or developmental issues may miss out on these interactions due to physical barriers. One school is now working to rectify that problem.

McBride Elementary has been driven this year to raise funds to build an inclusive playground for their students. The catalyst behind this drive was the loss of special education teacher Nick Hostler. Mr. Nick was determined to find a way for his functional skills students to be involved in everyday activities. He always wanted an inclusive playground at McBride for his young friends.

A committee has worked with the company GameTime to design a playground that will allow children with special needs to play alongside their peers. The playground includes a poured rubber base and paved paths that will ensure students with mobility issues can move around with ease. The playground will have accessible equipment that appeals to all kids. Due to its connection to McBride Park, the inclusive playground will be available to the community after school hours.

Fundraising efforts continue with the help of the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools. The Foundation accepts donations for the #BeLikeNick project. Contributions can be made online at supportsps.org and by mail at 1131 Boonville Ave., Springfield, MO 65802.

For more information, call (417) 523-0144.

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Creating a Caring Classroom Family

Since we spend so much time in our classrooms with our students, it is essential to take time to create a classroom community that works together as a family. Let’s take a look at the word “family” and the insight needed to develop that kind of supportive, caring environment in your classroom every day.

F is for Feelings
Children need to be allowed to feel. Not only do they need to feel safe. They need to feel they belong. They need to feel heard and understood. And they need an environment that allows them to express those feelings. It is important that we encourage students to learn how to process their feelings appropriately. Practice “I statements” with your students for healthy feelings expression: I feel _____ when you _____. I need _____.

A is for Appreciation

Author Ann Voskamp says, "Gratitude and thankfulness aren’t inherited, they are learned." She feels our lives are more productive when we are thankful in all things. Keep blank thank-you note cards available in a writing center to encourage students to share their appreciations.

M is for Music

Music is a unifying activity. We can’t all talk at the same time, but we can all sing at the same time. Music also tends to seal the deal because rhythms and lyrics stick with students. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience (Jan. 2013) indicates that early musical training has a substantial effect on our brain. Try picking a theme song with positive lyrics for the rest of the school year and get your class up and dancing. You know what they say; the family that plays together stays together!

I is for Integrity

Integrity is being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. But when students come to our school families with different values, how will they know what is right? Therefore, it is vitally important to your classroom climate that you and your students create a class family promise, outlining the values that you commit to practicing. Make sure to seize teachable moments, when there is a conflict. Make sure to keep your values simple and have everyone sign it.

L is for Love
The old Beatles ballad says “All We Need Is Love.” When children feel loved, and that they truly belong, they will feel better about themselves and their environment. We know that there will always be students that are hard to love, but we will work to find ways to make each one of them feel like they are our favorite.

Y is for Yearning
One of the most significant tasks we have as educators is to create life-long learners who are eager for knowledge and wisdom. One way to do that is by giving them voice and choice. When children have a choice in their learning, we as educators are no longer lecturing them, but we become their coaches. Their decisions trigger the release of endorphins, the brain’s optimal thinking chemical. Then, these chemicals fire up motivation, which creates feelings of positivity, and an optimistic attitude. (Ornstein, 1991). This optimism could be our greatest renewable natural resource; which increases our future leaders level of confidence and well-being.

How to Introduce Decimals with Base Ten Blocks, www.lauracandler.com/classroomfamily/.

Library Corner

By Katie Carter Truman and Holland Elementary Librarian and Holland's Equity Champion

The recommended books for February are:

Heart And Soul by Kadir Nelson and Trombone Shorty By Troy Andrews.

In honor of Black History Month, here are two African American authors and illustrators your students should know:

Kadir Nelson’s art should be familiar to students, as he has illustrated some of the most popular and critically acclaimed Black History Month reads including We are the Ship, Henry’s Freedom Box, I Have A Dream, and his newest, Blue Sky, White Stars. Outside children’s literature, he’s an accomplished artist with numerous New Yorker covers and shows in galleries all over the world. His website is user-friendly and appropriate for kids to explore. Check out Heart and Soul: the story of America and African Americans for an in-depth view of Black American history.

Bryan Collier’s books are also well-loved by students, teachers, and critics. His distinctive paint-and-collage art style makes his books (including Martin’s Big Words, Dave the Potter, Rosa, and Barak Obama: Son of Promise) recognizable.

Check out Trombone Shorty for an engaging book about a contemporary New Orleans musician, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Bonus – the hip hop trombonist wrote the book, so it’s an autobiography! (His instrumental music is great to share with your class, but preview anything with lyrics.)

Heart And Soul by Kadir Nelson and Trombone Shorty By Troy Andrews are available in Springfield Public Schools Libraries.

Coming Events

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Springfield African American Read In: People's Cafe Public Hosted by Springfield NAACP

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