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So I still wasn't able to locate any specific trauma-informed policies regarding student conduct.  However, I have to say, this has been a remarkable review of varying school districts and how they organize their student handbooks.  

Although many schools are still endorsing approaches to supporting traumatized children with frameworks like PBIS (dare I shudder), I was heartened to see a number of school districts being bold enough to "put it out there" by beginning their handbook publications with vision, mission, core belief and guiding principle statements that are VERY TRAUMA-INFORMED.  

And I was also expecting to find some "five stars" in places like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington - but not so much.  

Here are some that have accomplished some very noteworthy work:

At the Beginning of Their Student Handbook:  Baltimore Public Schools, MD
Introduction to their 3 OverArching Themes:  Prevention, Logical Consequences, Restoration
Comment:  Five Gold Stars (in my opinion) - these people "get it."


At The Beginning of Their Student Handbook:  Brockton Public Schools, MA
Core Values and Beliefs:  Rigor, Relationships, Relevance (p. 15)

At the Beginning of Their Student Handbook:  Metro Nashville Public Schools, TN
5 Guiding Principles 


THE WINNER! 
At the Beginning of Their Student Handbook:  Milwaukee Public Schools, WI

District Vision, Mission, and Core Beliefs 
C
omment:  Five Gold Stars - t
hey even include a parent’s bill of rights and parental rights for non-traditional custodial circumstances (i.e. relative caregiver, foster parent, illegal immigrants, etc).  They include language regarding the explicit rights of gender non-conforming students.  And the language they use in most of their student conduct policies assumes good intentions or at least minimizes the use of an accusatory tone.  These people deserve an award for their progressive work (now if they could just get rid of PBIS).

 

Happy Nerding Out!

Last edited by Emily Read Daniels

The State of Pennsylvania has written into policy that by August 19, 2019 that school district throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provide education and training for it's education staff and faculty.  The policy also addresses developing services to aid and assist students experiencing trauma.  Pennsylvania is encouraging all school district to develop trauma informed training programs.

https://www.pahouse.com/Sappey...wsRelease/?id=108307 

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General Assembly Senate Bill 200

Hi 

I am a former school psyc, and have worked for 3 years as a consultant and coach providing schools with monthly PD and consulting for 3 years (school wide and individual coaching) . I now have my own consulting business if your district would like PD (one time or ongoing), help assessing, developing and implementing schools wide truama informed best practices and dicipline reform contact me at jennylmoore@outlook.com. I also highly recommend the book "Fostering Resilient Learners" by Kristin Souers.

Best of luck and keep up the good work!

Jen

 

 

Michael O'Connell posted:

The State of Pennsylvania has written into policy that by August 19, 2019 that school district throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provide education and training for it's education staff and faculty.  The policy also addresses developing services to aid and assist students experiencing trauma.  Pennsylvania is encouraging all school district to develop trauma informed training programs.

https://www.pahouse.com/Sappey...wsRelease/?id=108307 

Thanks, Michael.  I did review Philadelphia's student handbook but wasn't "in love" with the framing of their policies.  I am aware that PA is doing a lot of progressive work but I really appreciate seeing the language of the law.  Thank you for sharing.  

Morgan Vien (ACEs Connection Staff) posted:

This is not specific to school policies, but I would suggest looking at ACEs Connection's resource list for trauma-informed guides and tools. Hope this helps!

Hi Morgan,

Thank you for the suggestion;  I did look there and didn't find anything I was looking for.  I was specifically looking for student code of conduct policies that are trauma-informed.  This is definitely a growing edge of the work - but is vitally important.  A lot of administrators feel reluctant to violate student code of conduct policies - for fear of litigation -  when interpreting behavior or disciplining kids.  

I think the best policies and procedures recognize that trauma informed practices are best for all students - not just the ones that have experienced adversity. If we focus just on students who have experienced adversity we run the risk of labelling again and don't foster the kind of resilient community where everyone benefits.

And, I think that more than the handbook or policy - or perhaps, importantly in addition to the handbook is the adaptive change of how educators see their students and their families and how their practices they use shift for all students.

Key are: understanding the brain, and the window of resilience (theirs and their students), regular practices of self-regulation (there are many forms), relationship building and the use of problem solving and restorative practices.  This is very different than most schools currently. In our schema it means things like building the skills so that school is about collaboration instead of compliance and there is a focus on community (helpful not hurtful) instead of competition. It means re-thinking the use of external rewards (which increase stress levels and shrink the resilience window). It means replacing traditional pay and go consequences with real life repair and solutions (all solutions are consequences and not all consequences are solutions.)  It means creating clear systems and structures - so that while educators connect well and build relationships, that the culture is not permissive, but rather firm and fair.

We think the cultural shift takes a minimum of three years....and then you can feel a difference in a school and see rather remarkable academic growth (but only if the pedagogy is shifting along with the SEL/discipline practices).

River Coyote posted:

I'm new to this and building my capacity.  Emily can you share some criticisms of PBIS.  I'm unsure of what some of the drawbacks may be.

Thank you,

River

River, 

I know I replied to you in email, but since you asked here I wanted to reply here in case anyone wanted to see the reasoning I offer for wanting to move away from the current framing of PBIS.  

Beth Tolley probably makes the most compelling argument.  Check out her work here:  https://endseclusion.org/resea...em-with-behaviorism/

Then after getting into the meat of her work, you want to investigate the work of Dr. Stephen Porges and his PolyVagal Theory - which helps us understand the intervening variable in human behavior between response and stimulus is NOT choice, but physiological state.  https://www.stephenporges.com/

Lastly, Dr. Mona Delahooke does a fabulous job in her blogs and in her publication, Beyond Behaviors, for offering a distinction between stress behavior and conscious behavior (in a developmental framework).  Definitely check out her work:  https://monadelahooke.com/

 

Thank you for your excellent question...Happy Nerding Out,

Emily

Emily, Thank you! These are great resources. The other side of the issue is of course rewards - which are also part of behaviorism. Given that they are such a significant part of educational practice it is sometimes hard to convey how they, especially for students with a history of adversity, actually shrink the resilience window and can precipitate either worse behavior or shutting down.  There is also good evidence about the negative impacts of rewards (Drive by Daniel Pink summarizes all kinds of literature, Alfie Kohn pulls studies related to education in Punished by Rewards).

The interesting thing is that it is really easy to shift from tokens or cards/rewards used in many PBIS schools to encouragement. Turn those little pieces of paper into "I notice_____" statements. Punch holes in the corners and give every student a ring. Then they can collect all of their "cards" and use them to notice their strengths in a moment that they are feeling down. Yes - it takes a bit more work on the part of the adult - and it is a a very powerful shift.

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