When Schools Meet Trauma With Understanding, Not Discipline

Has anyone read this exciting article from NPR about specific approaches schools can use to address student trauma?

When Schools Meet Trauma With Understanding, Not Discipline

A brief excerpt:

"...schools, because they have so many children dealing with many different issues, often don't think about the reasons behind behaviors. Mental health workers, like her, though, have learned a lot recently about how trauma changes the brain.

"A kid who's been exposed to trauma ... that fight or flight response is much more developed and stronger," Carter says.

Katie Murray starts most school days with a social-emotional learning curriculum for her 7th grade class.
 
"If I'm walking down the hallway and somebody bumps into me, and I don't have a significant trauma history, I'm gonna say 'Oh, sorry, excuse me,' " she explains. "Whereas a kid who's been exposed to trauma on an ongoing basis, if somebody bumps into them that might be a threat." From there, she says, the survival brain kicks in and reasoning and logic shut down.

Crocker has developed ways to help students who are dealing with those experiences. Two full-time social workers hold one-on-one sessions with students who need someone to talk to. Teachers send disruptive students to a room called the wellness center for a meditative time-out that's not supposed to be punishment.

If students fight, they first work it out through group discussion. Kids who act up or shut down get extra support, not detention or suspension like they used to. The idea is to tend to life troubles at school, instead of sending kids home."

Could some of these approaches work in Sonoma County classrooms?

Original Post

Hi Holly,

I completely agree that discipline is not the answer to treating or healing trauma. Another example of this is when administrators take recess away from children who have 'behavior issues'. As we know, when we punish children by taking away recess for example, they negative behavior increases. Children, adolescents, and even adults need someone supportive to talk to, especially after a traumatic event.

I love hearing new positive methods like this and I do believe some of these approaches can work in Sonoma County classrooms. The "Wellness Center" is a great idea and could also act as a sensory room.

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Jessie WetmoreEric Lofchie
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