For many of us, the end of the school year is near. This time of year offers an opportunity for reflection as well as celebrating successes, taking stock of accomplishments, and thinking ahead to what might need to be considered for next year. Many schools have been guided by the use of the trauma-sensitive vision questions help make sure that the chosen actions move the school closer to becoming trauma-sensitive. In this blog post we share a few ideas and questions to help in reflecting on the year and preparing for continuing the work to become a trauma-sensitive/safe and supportive into next school year.
The Learning Community Blog features guest contributors and an ongoing discussion with Learning Community Members
In previous blog posts, we shared information, tools and resources for use in creating trauma-sensitive schools. This month, we are excited to share with you an additional tool for getting started on the journey to trauma-sensitivity in your school. TLPI Training Director, Joel Ristuccia, Ed.M., recently had the opportunity to present a webinar on creating safe and supportive learning environments for all students for the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Safe and Supportive Schools grantees.
The inquiry-based process encourages schools to identify their own measures of success in order to assess the effectiveness of their school’s action plan. Key to assessing effectiveness is making sure that tracking progress is an on-going process and that the steering committee think creatively about the kinds of data that they might look at to chart their progress toward trauma-sensitivity. We encourage steering committees to pay attention to two types of data. The first of these is the qualitative changes in the practices and behaviors of faculty, staff and students. A second type of measure involves outcome measures and measures of individual student success.
A critical component of creating a safe and supportive school is giving thoughtful consideration to making sure that when needed, students and families have access to culturally, linguistically, clinically, age and developmentally appropriate services that are integrated into a welcoming school culture.
Here we share another set of questions as a useful tool for creating a successful Action Plan: the Flexible Framework Questions. Once the school’s steering committee has identified its major actions, answering the Flexible Framework Questions will ensure that trauma-sensitivity weaves throughout all of the school’s core operations.
As the steering committee moves toward action planning, it is important to determine which of the priorities the school should address first. Though there may be several pressing concerns, key to success is choosing one or two priorities that are achievable to start addressing first.
It may be helpful to consider:
Which of the priorities is most pressing?
Which seem achievable in the short-term?
Which of the priorities will lead us closer to our goal of becoming more trauma-sensitive?
The process of creating a trauma-sensitive school begins when an individual’s or small group of staff have a sense of urgency about the need to address an important school priority. When a significant number of staff determine to address this urgent priority in a trauma-sensitive way the seed for making change can take hold.
The first step for any school to create a trauma sensitive school community is careful and thoughtful consideration of the question how do we know we are ready?
Since the release of the video last fall, we received a large number of requests to share the video. Many who contacted us let us know that there was a desire to start a trauma-sensitive schools discussion in their own communities. In response to these requests, we developed a discussion guide to go along with the video.
The Flexible Framework is an organizational tool that enables schools and districts—in collaboration with families, local community organizations, and outside providers—to maintain a whole school focus as they create trauma sensitive schools.