Creating a Successful Action Plan (Part 2)

In the previous blog post on Creating a Successful Action Plan, we shared the trauma sensitive vision questions as a tool used to encourage active reflection and thoughtful inquiry around ways to achieve the vision of a trauma-sensitive school. These questions are based on the six attributes of a trauma-sensitive school and serve as a reminder to keep the trauma-sensitive vision at the forefront of thinking as schools identify priorities then plan, implement and evaluate action plans.

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. These questions are designed to support whole-school culture change by helping educators “cover the bases” and ensure that trauma sensitivity is infused into each aspect of the school. The questions inquire about six familiar and important school operations that educators should keep in mind as they implement trauma-sensitivity school-wide.

Flexible Framework Questions

1. What role does school and/or district leadership play in implementation?

Consider the following:

  • Actions by school and/or district leadership
  • Other initiatives already in place at the school
  • Supports for staff
  • Staffing arrangements
2. What professional development is necessary for implementation?

Consider the following:

  • Professional development topics for the full staff
  • Specialized topics for teachers and student support staff
  • How the school’s own experts and those in the community can help staff extend and reinforce the learning that begins in the trainings and enhances skills through mentoring and consultation
3. What resources, supports or services need to be in place for students, families and/or staff

Consider the following:

  • The resources/services necessary for students, staff and/or families, including linguistically, culturally and clinically appropriate services
  • Current collaborations with community providers, including ease of access and responsiveness to determine which ones work well and which need to be reinforced/enhanced
  • New services and collaboration that need to be built
  • The barriers that currently exist to students’ access to appropriate community services that support their school success

Procedures that support the frequent communication required for effective coordination between school-based and community-based behavioral health providers and teachers.

4. What classroom strategies –both academic or nonacademic – support implementation?

Consider the following:

  • Academic and non-academic approaches being used in the classrooms
  • Opportunities for student skill-building in the classroom and during unstructured parts of the day (e.g. recess, lunch, etc.)
  • How to ensure that all educators throughout the building are consistently implementing and reinforcing the classroom approaches necessary to support implementation
  • Opportunities for enhancing the curriculum/classroom approaches already in place in the school
5. What policies, procedures or protocols do we need to review, revise and/or develop?

Consider the following:

  • A review of all policies, procedures and protocols to determine which need to be adjusted, added or deleted
  • A close review and adjustment of policies related to confidential communication within the school and between the school and the family
  • A close review and adjustment of policies related to school discipline
  • How to ensure that any changes to policies or procedures are adequately and accurately communicated to the entire school community
6. What do we need to do to ensure that families are active partners in helping with implementation?

Consider the following:

  • What role families play in the school
  • What information to share with families
  • How to build on current family engagement efforts, including a review of the need to expand or revise these efforts
  • How to ensure that the school is sensitive/responsive to particular cultural issues and needs, language needs, etc.

The intent of using these questions is to ensure that every critical area of school operations is taken into consideration when generating ideas, considering actions and tailoring solutions to fit the school community and the needs of its students. The questions remind everyone that all the school operations are interconnected. They are designed to help identify institutional barriers and strengths that may become relevant as the school works to take action and achieve its goals. These questions can also help steering committees focus on what led to success; important information to have for future efforts.

Guided by the use of the Trauma Sensitive Vision Questions and the Flexible Framework questions, a trauma-sensitive school continually reviews and adjusts its action plan to address priorities. Continual use of this process of change leads to educators engaging in a proactive approach that makes it possible to create a safe and supportive school community.

To read more about the use of the Flexible Framework Questions and to find a helpful example of using the Flexible Framework Questions to analyze selected actions, please see pages 60-65 of Helping Traumatized Children Learn, Vol. 2

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