In this series, we explore how childhood trauma and its many consequences impact students' well-being, cognition, and academic learning. We’ll hear educators, psychologists, and thought leaders describe current research and state-of-the-art approaches, including practical tips for schools on how to lessen or alleviate trauma’s impact.
Trauma in Schools #35: Balancing Students' Academic and Social/Emotional Needs
42:06If COVID has an upside, it’s that it has brought attention to the emotional needs of students (and faculty members). Indeed, if a student doesn’t feel emotionally safe in the classroom, their ability to learn is severely impeded. And if an educator is experiencing extreme stress, their ability to work effectively with kids is compromised. The bottom line is that educators must work toward balancing a student’s academic needs with their social and emotional needs. Our three guests from the Elizabethton School District in Elizabethton, TN provide the details. Dr. Myra Newman — Assistant Director of Schools for Academics, Elizabethton City Schools, Elizabethton, TN Dr. Jon Minton — Principal, Elizabethton High School, Elizabethton, TN Megan Ellis — Counselor, Elizabethton High School, Elizabethton, TN
Trauma in Schools #34: Reducing Trauma’s Impact Through the Three Rs
44:01One of the clear takeaways from our series on trauma in schools is that few teachers and administrators receive training on student trauma before they find themselves in front of their kids. Most professional development in this critical area is provided to educators in what are often too-brief training sessions after they are already in the schools. Our guests in this episode, professional development consultants Tamara Neufeld Strijack and Hannah Beach, are helping to disrupt that pattern.
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Trauma in Schools #33: Trauma within Indigenous Populations (Part 2)
41:08One way trauma grows in the Native American child is through schooling. Native American children attend either schools made up primarily of Native students, or they attend U.S. public schools with the potential for more of a mixed population. As we’ll learn during the interview, Native American children who attend U.S. public schools are often criticized for their silence. But their silence doesn’t reflect a lack of interest or knowledge, it’s culturally driven behavior. Native American children are often silent for two reasons: one, because they’re reflecting deeply on the topic under discussion, and two, they’re demonstrating respect for the thoughts of others, especially the teachers. Instead of being critical of them, we should see them for what they are. Holly Echo-Hawk, a behavioral health expert for the Pawnee Nation provides the details.
Trauma in Schools #32: The Trauma within Indigenous Populations (Part 1)
45:14One of the aspects of trauma that needs to be fully recognized is its intergenerational potential: the trauma that a student carries with them can often be further weighted by what their parents and or ancestors experienced. This is particularly true for people of color and indigenous populations. Mary Peter, District Vice-Principal, Indigenous Education, Cowichan Valley School District on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and Richard Matthews, the District Counselor at the Cowichan Valley School District provide the details.
Trauma in Schools #31: Taking a Systematic Approach to Achieving Equity in the District
37:05When we think about trauma and adverse childhood experiences, the conversation understandably gravitates to one of what happened to the student. That approach can focus us externally on the damaging experiences and events themselves. Dr. Scott Ratchford, an expert on equity and the Coordinator of Equity Advancement for the town of West Hartford, CT, helps us shift our focus to see the internal impact of adversity and trauma on a child and how it can affect their identity, sense of safety and well-being, and perhaps most important, their potential.
Trauma in Schools #30: Nurturing the Emotionally Safe School Environment
35:00Most attempts at large-scale change in education fail because of incoherent planning, lack of buy-in of stakeholders, and poor execution. Another big reason for failure is pace: leadership tries to do too much too quickly. Moving too fast can be particularly detrimental when adopting something as emotionally rich and behavior-changing as trauma-informed practices. Dr. Dana Milakovic, a mental health and trauma specialist, and the state-wide advisor for Trauma (K-12) for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, urges a step-by-step approach that includes a multi-system of support.
Trauma in Schools #29: Heart Centered Learning: A Compassionate Approach
42:58If our students need to be in a psychologically safe place before they can succeed academically, today’s guests — Drs Yvette Jackson and Michele Rivers Murphy — will argue that the same logic of “first this and then that” also applies to the faculty: reducing student trauma starts with improving the well-being of teachers.
Trauma in Schools #28: Coaching to Address SEL, Racism and Trauma
38:31Our study of trauma in schools has naturally focused on students. For example, the discrimination and racism that many live with in their neighborhoods aren’t experiences they can easily leave at home. That those experiences negatively impact a student’s academic success is undeniable. But our educators of color at home and around the world are hardly immune to that type of adversity. Discriminatory hiring practices engender one type of adversity for educators. But many educators are now experiencing increased adversity as legislatures and local school committees hand down restrictions on what and how they can teach.
Trauma in Schools #27: The Imperative to Focus on the Whole Child
33:55Christine LeGuizamo is a licensed social worker serving as the Program Director of Mental Health at New Harmony High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. New Harmony is a growing charter school with a mission to "Foster an interconnectedness of people, land, air, and water that prepares students for college, careers, and beyond." And part of that interconnectedness, as Christine explains, is "the intertwining of academics and social-emotional part of each student. We very much serve the whole child and understand the importance of serving the whole child. When it comes to academic learning, it is so important to understand that to get a student to conceptualize algebra, you need to also understand what happened at home last night that could impede their learning for the next day." Join the conversation and get the details on how Christine and New Harmony High are accomplishing that.
Trauma in Schools #26: Creating Caring School Environment for Students
37:31We’ve talked about the concept of the "trauma-informed school” several times during this series. But how can educators go about establishing the right caring environment to maximize student learning? As our guest, Godwin Higa, a consultant for trauma-informed and restorative justice practices, and a former teacher and principal of the year in the SDUSD explains, it starts with the educator's heart.