Embedding Trauma-informed Practices within Existing School-wide Practices

 

Embedding Trauma-informed Practices within Existing School-wide Practices

Do you want to know my formula for creating successful trauma-informed schools?

Make the Complex → Simple!

Here’s how in 3 Easy Steps!

Step 1: Apply The 3 Components of Trauma-Informed Care into your Decision-Making Process:

 

Step 2: Assess how the 3 Components of TIC can be Infused within Existing Systems/Structures.

For example: Most elementary schools operate with some type of school-wide hallway procedures as shown in the pictures below. This particular school had already adopted a PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports) framework and included hallway procedures in their matrix.

 
 
 
School Mindful Walks

Step 3: Apply your Knowledge of the Neuroscience/Neurobiology within your Existing Systems/Structures.

Acknowledging and respecting this school’s PBIS journey can help staff become more receptive in understanding that a trauma-informed lens only strengthens existing practices. (This is so important as new initiatives in schools can come across as threats to pre-existing systems when viewed in isolation and create early adoption resistance)

Our Task: How to embed Mindfulness into what we are already doing?

1. Utilize existing PBIS Hallway STOP signs as opportunities for Wellness Breaks. Empower Student Line Leaders to lead One-Minute Wellness Breaks. Post or hang your newly adopted self-regulation strategies at all STOP sign locations throughout your school for student leaders or teachers to reference. (See image below as an example)

 

1–2–3 Wellness Tool

2. S.T.O.P. Practice

3. Mindful Walking

4. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination: Incorporate different colored floor tiles/designs in your walking patterns. “Hot lava” game. Line leader models a “Walk This Way” walking pattern for all to imitate. Asking students when they return to the classroom something they had observed differently on their walk, etc.

Call to Action: Be sure to include a few of your own ideas in the comments below.

Now go out and be the change you want to see!

DR. JIM WALTERS, AN EDUCATOR WITH OVER 25 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE SERVING IN BOTH SUBURBAN AND URBAN COMMUNITIES, WAS AN EARLY TRAUMA-INFORMED SCHOOL ADOPTER IN THE ST. LOUIS REGION. THROUGH HIS CONSULTING COMPANY; TRAUMAINFORMEDLEARNING.COM, HE NOW ASSISTS SCHOOLS IN THEIR QUEST TO BUILD HEALTHIER AND MORE RESILIENT COMMUNITIES THROUGH A TRAUMA-INFORMED LENS.

 

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Yes... AND...With all due respect, I think we are asking for more really. It isn't about what it looks like, it is how it is lived. To do that we have to dig deep and think about the systems, even in education, that perpetuate the systemic inequities.   We used to teach using praise and by making students "pay" or hurt (consequences). Now there are more effective tools to adopt. When we really dig deep, we must re-examine how to build relationships, inspire internally instead of externally - (without using rewards-which shrink resilience windows), and how to move beyond consequences to solutions and reparative conversations/actions.

It is deep messy work. It is transformational, not transactional.  The adults in the system need to see their students differently, build more robust relationships and learn a different set of tools to hold firmness. It absolutely can be done. Our experience is that it takes time. It also takes some specific leadership skills.

And...when it begins to really live at a school, the students have voice, they become "helpful not hurtful," they become adept at problem solving, giving each other grace. Discipline referrals go down. There is a lot more brain space for the kind of learning that we, traditionally, thought schools were for. Definitely worth the effort.

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