The principal of a small elementary school in central Massachusetts was approached by his staff with a request. They asked about their school becoming more responsive to trauma owing to the number of children in their classrooms who seemed to be facing adversity in their lives.
The principal met with the school nurse and the school district psychologist who was assigned to work with students at his rural school to discuss the matter. Together, they reviewed the records of students who were homeless or in foster care or otherwise had a known traumatic history.
“I was shocked when I realized how high the numbers were and stunned to see the overlap between these students and those who were functioning below grade level academically,” the principal stated. “While not all the children with traumatic histories were struggling, it was clear to me that adversity was a strong predictor of challenges in school and that we could not in good conscience ignore a plan for addressing the role of trauma in our school.”
That recognition was the launching point for this school making its entire environment trauma-sensitive. The effort started with setting up a learning community for staff to become more knowledgeable about how trauma affects a student’s ability to focus, behave appropriately and learn. The school’s administrators, teachers and staff read Helping Traumatized Children Learn (Vol. 1)and identified their priorities, including the need for a calmer environment, a steering committee to guide the work and involvement of all staff.
[To read the rest of this article by Susan F. Cole, click here.]