Trauma Informed Newsletter

Parkway Montessori - March 2016

We hope you took time to read our first newsletter, An Introduction to Trauma. If not, please do now Also, thank you to those of you who were able to attend our Trauma PD in February! After reading the newsletter, please check-out the staff workroom bulletin board for self-care tips!
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Trauma and the Brain

Trauma information is so relevant today due to all of the brain research that has been done. Being a trauma informed school is grounded in staff understanding how our bodies, particularly our brains, are affected by exposure to trauma and toxic stress.

Traumatized children experience changes in brain development, neurochemistry, and genetic expression. The impact trauma has on the brain has a negative impact on one's ability to organize information, understand cause and effect, build relationships, and regulate emotions and behavior, etc. Trauma also shapes individuals' perceptions of the world around them, altering their view of what is safe and unsafe. This is why you may often hear a student say "stop yelling at me" or "get out of my face" when you are not yelling and are giving them plenty of space.

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The awesome thing to remember is that we can help youth change the way they deal with and manage their emotions and behavior in stressful situations!

Watch the neuroplasticity video below to see how:


The Fight, Flight, Freeze Response

The changes in the brain have a significant impact on how individuals respond to everyday situations. As you see in the diagram below, when an individual's amygdala is reminded of a traumatic event, or stressor, the amygdala sends an alarm message to the body/brain which in turn creates the "Fight, Flight, or Freeze response".

Fight = Become aggressive, verbally or physically. Defiant.

Flight = Run away, leave area.

Freeze = Become still, withdraw mentally.

When this happens, the thinking brain (frontal lobe) does not function. That is why you can't reason or process with an escalated student, but instead must wait for them to calm down. Help a student regulate their body/emotions before trying to process with them by giving them some space, asking they take a break, using a calm tone, giving simple directions, and/or taking a few deep breaths with them.

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Teaching the Hand Brain Model

There are many videos out there but this one is short and to the point. Jena and I also include teaching that the thumb is the amygdala which is so important because this keeps us safe. It is responsible for survival instincts, memories and regulating emotions.
Daniel Siegel Hand Model

Don't Flip Yo Lid Video

Here's an example of how a school in Madison, WI taught their students about their brain functioning. You could use this in addition to teaching the hand brain model.

Remember, we can't help others unless we remember to take care of ourselves first!

Please see the bulletin board in the staff lounge for self-care tips. Thanks for reading!