Title

Creating A Trauma Sensitive School

Location

Vereist

Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills

Strand #2

Mental & Physical Health

Relevance

Creating a trauma sensitive school relates to the “Heart” strand because it focuses on creating a school climate that fosters the social and emotional well being of students. We have implemented ways to help students learn to self regulate so they can overcome at-risk conditions that may threaten their safety, health, emotional needs, or academic achievement. Creating a trauma sensitive school also relates to the “Health” strand because we want students to access the supports they need to improve their mental and physical health. We have created ways to bridge the gap of communication between the students and teachers so that the students have easy access to counseling and outside services that can lead to trauma informed care.

Brief Program Description

This session will focus on the different disciplines and steps needed to create a trauma sensitive school. Attendees will learn about trauma, ACE scores, potential triggers, and approaches that will help create a safe and supportive learning environment.

Summary

In order to create a trauma sensitive school you must first understand what trauma is and how it impacts your students. We have all worked with students who have experienced trauma, particularly those who live in poverty. To discuss trauma we will start by speaking about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. We will discuss research based on ACE scores and how it relates to at-risk students. Participants will know how to assess their own students’ ACE scores and how it can affect their school performance. Trauma affects cognitive/academic, physical, emotional, and spiritual development. We will discuss data and research on traumatized students and the impact on brain development. Changes in brain development lead to a heightened fight-or-flight response. If there is perceived danger, the “thinking” part of the brain shuts off and the “doing” part of the brain is enabled. Students will bring their experiences trying to combat or escape danger with them to school. We must be aware of those tendencies so that we can best help our students. Students must feel safe before being able to learn. Research has shown that positive, nurturing, and supportive relationships can help counter much of the trauma students bring with them to school. Attendees will leave our session with school wide and classroom strategies that provide universal supports while being sensitive to the unique needs of students and mindful of avoiding re-traumatization. Such strategies include a predictable and safe environment, music instead of bells during passing periods, daily support for all students from their advisor, preventative and collaborative problem solving with students, learning center instead of suspension, mindfulness of one’s own feelings, celebrations for positive behavior, and collaboration with mental health professionals.

Evidence

Our school started using trauma-sensitive strategies two years ago. Since the implementation of these aforementioned practices, we have seen an improvement in our school culture and climate as seen by our student and teacher surveys. The students and teachers reported feeling safe and supported. School attendance has increased roughly five percent in the past two years and test scores have significantly improved. We are also witnessing a decrease in discipline referrals written by teachers. Our referrals have nearly dropped fifty percent from three years ago. Teachers are learning ways to deescalate students without the need to contact an administrator. The amount of students earning an out-of-school suspension has also decreased. Keeping students in school with positive influences has shown to be more effective than sending them back to their traumatic homes without ideal supervision. Instead of punishing bad behavior and focusing on the negative, we continually reward appropriate behavior with classroom, whole grade level, and school-wide celebrations. Faculty members have modeled how to speak to students in an understanding and compassionate tone. They are mindful of the energy they bring into their classroom, as it can have an effect on those students in the room.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Jeff Vacek has been a school counselor for 10 years. He has worked with high school, elementary, and now middle school students. He has worked in Chicago, IL and Council Bluffs, IA. Each place he has worked have been with at risk populations. Currently he is the Department Chair of the Counseling Department at Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

Kim Moore has been an Elementary teacher in Moreno Valley, CA for 8 years and then a Homebound Instructor for Student Services in North Platte, NE for two years. This served children of all ages held from school for a variety of reasons. She also taught Special Education at the Secondary Level for 3 years in North Platte, NE. Kim has also taught iJAG for two years, a non profit organization that reaches students with barriers and creates graduation paths. Now Kim is in her third year as a Middle School Counselor in Council Bluffs, IA at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. Each place she has worked at has been at Title I Schools with kids at risk.

Melissa Hine has been a school counselor for five years. She has worked with middle school students at Title I schools in Jefferson, Georgia and Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Keyword Descriptors

Trauma, Sensitive, At Risk, Classroom Strategies, Trauma Informed Care

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-8-2016 8:30 AM

End Date

3-8-2016 9:45 AM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Mar 8th, 8:30 AM Mar 8th, 9:45 AM

Creating A Trauma Sensitive School

Vereist

This session will focus on the different disciplines and steps needed to create a trauma sensitive school. Attendees will learn about trauma, ACE scores, potential triggers, and approaches that will help create a safe and supportive learning environment.