First Presenter's Institution

Boyle Street Education Centre

Second Presenter's Institution

Huiy Tang

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Portside

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

Relevance

Health: Mental and Physical Health: There is an increasing number of high school youth who are experiencing debilitating depression and anxiety. This session will discuss ways of promoting mental health in students so that they are better able to learn in the classroom. It will discuss the impact which trauma has on the learning lives of students and the emotional and academic interventions which are needed to support students as they learn how to be successful even when their lives may still be chaotic.

Heart: Social and Emotional Skills: Students need to feel a sense of connection and acceptance in order to learn in an optimal way. Youth who have not been successful in their learning and who have had to live with trauma at home and discrimination at school need this more than most. They need their school to be a safe and caring place so that they can begin to heal and discover the rewards of being successful in school. This session will discuss how to develop a sense of community and family in the school and why this is crucial in developing academic resilience in students.

Brief Program Description

High school youth who live in the inner city, many of First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) descent, have traditionally had struggles within school systems. Many have had a great deal of personal trauma in their lives. This presentation subscribes to the idea that the trauma they have experienced has affected them in a way, which compromises learning and causes students to be continually distracted from their classroom lessons. The presentation will illustrate how to work with these youth using trauma-informed teaching practices to support their emotional, behavioural, mental and spiritual well being.

Summary

Boyle Street Education Centre is an inner city charter school in Edmonton Alberta, which set out to serve the educational needs of students who were not going to school, either by the schools’ decisions by expelling students, or because of students’ choices in leaving and not returning. The school is in its 20th year of operation. Students who have lost their access to schools and home end up on the street and so become what people call “inner city street youth”. Life on the street can be brutal, extremely dangerous and unforgiving. The youth who make these choices have many things in common with each other, but the one central experience that they all share is that they come from conditions of trauma and pain. There are many reasons for this, from cultural genocide to conditions of poverty, addiction, mental illness and violence. The history of a child from the womb to the street is easily understood if one were able to chart each step along the way. We refer to these students as SWEET (students who have experienced extreme trauma). Through research and many years of teaching experience, we have come to believe that the trauma that people live through affects the way they learn, and in this case, affects the way the students at BSEC learn. We also believe that students can heal from trauma and within this healing lies a clue to unlock more of their potential to achieve what they dream of achieving. The voices in this project have shown me that this is true. Life will never be easy for BSEC youth, but it is possible that it can contain more laughter and less sorrow. Experiencing success and respect in school remains an integral part of a successful life. That is why BSEC students are willing to try, yet again, in a school such as ours, even though they have never had success before. This research has helped us to understand why the students that we work with struggle to learn how to do well in school and why the changes happen slowly and over a long period of time. BSEC students are possibly charting new paths in new territories, not only in their lives but also in their brains. The reflections from former teachers and students from BSEC illuminated once again that substance is more important than technique when working with a healing population. Effective and systematic teaching is important, but building relationships and communities in schools based on care and respect is crucial. The presentation will include information regarding how trauma affects learning. It will include stories from both students and staff who believe this to have had an impact on the learning of students at BSEC. The presentation will also include the overall design model that BSEC has developed based on research as well as recommendations from students and staff. Included will be suggestions for teachers for building trauma-informed teaching practices. Hand-outs will be available.

Evidence

Evidence

Qualitative evidence for this presentation was gathered from students and staff for a Master’s thesis. This was a small study including four students and four teachers. Quantitative evidence has been updated to reflect current statistics as gathered from reports that Alberta Education conducts on all Alberta schools. Evidence shows that BSEC continues to rate very high even when teaching the most “hard to reach” students.

BSEC

AB Public schools

Safe and Caring Schools

2014

93

89

2015

95

89

2016

91

89

Program of Studies

2014

82

81

2015

79

81

2016

81

82

Education Quality

2014

95

89

2015

97

89

2016

94

90

School Improvement

2014

96

80

2015

95

79

2016

95

81

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Mavis Averill, M.Ed., will be starting as the Principal at Boyle Street Education Centre in Sept 2016. She has worked as Assistant Principal, Teacher, and Student Services Coordinator at Boyle Street Education Centre since its inception in 1996. Prior to working at BSEC, she designed and taught in an adult education program for First Nations adults returning to school. She works extensively in designing learning and support programs for youth in collaboration with students, teachers and counsellors at BSEC. She recently spearheaded bringing Improvisational drama to the school with the help of Edmonton’s Improv organization, Rapid Fire Theatre. Mavis’ research area for her Master’s thesis focused on how trauma impacts learning for students who have experienced extreme trauma (SWEET).

Huiy Tang, M.Ed., is the Assistant Principal at BSEC. He has worked as a Teacher and Student Services Coordinator designing programs to engage youth back into the learning process. His Masters work was in the areas of high poverty schools and in the linguistic issues, which arise when the language that is used in schools is not the first language of the students. He studied the common “street vernacular” created between First Nations language/”street language” and how this impacts learning in a school, which uses neither of these languages.

Keyword Descriptors

Trauma-informed teaching, Kearning, Healing, School design, Stories

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-7-2017 10:15 AM

End Date

3-7-2017 11:30 AM

Share

COinS
 
Mar 7th, 10:15 AM Mar 7th, 11:30 AM

Teaching SWEET (Students Who Have Experienced Extreme Trauma)

Portside

High school youth who live in the inner city, many of First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) descent, have traditionally had struggles within school systems. Many have had a great deal of personal trauma in their lives. This presentation subscribes to the idea that the trauma they have experienced has affected them in a way, which compromises learning and causes students to be continually distracted from their classroom lessons. The presentation will illustrate how to work with these youth using trauma-informed teaching practices to support their emotional, behavioural, mental and spiritual well being.