As schools reopen how can we use what we know about the impacts of trauma to provide learning environments in schools that will respond to the many emerging and varied needs of students? One way is to keep trauma-sensitivity at the forefront of planning as students return.
The January, 2021 edition of School Administrator, the American Association of School Administrators’ award-winning monthly magazine, features an article titled , Trauma Sensitivity in Early Learning, which describes the importance of safety, connection and the application of the trauma lens in early learning including the critical role of family engagement.
In the excerpt video, “A Welcoming Learning Environment Benefits Students, in School and at Home,” students at the Salem Academy Charter School, a trauma-sensitive demonstration school, share their positive experiences feeling welcomed by their school community.
In this short video, “Building Trusting Relationships Between Teachers & Students,” listen to Eddie, Destiny, Lola, and Juliebeth, students at the Salem Academy Charter School, a trauma-sensitive demonstration school, speak passionately about the impact their trusted teachers have on their education and passion for learning.
Listening to students about what they need to be successful in school is at the core of a trauma-sensitive learning community-whether in the classroom or remotely. Students are more likely to focus on and embrace learning when their voices and cultural backgrounds are respected.
As students are welcomed back to school this year, new needs and urgencies will be identified by school staff. As educators think through how to address these urgencies in a trauma-sensitive way, TLPI offers a tool-the trauma sensitive vision questions- to help support educators’ efforts to engage in active reflection and thoughtful inquiry on ways to achieve their vision of creating a trauma-sensitive, safe and supportive learning environment.
We are thrilled to share with you this short video highlighting one middle/high school’s journey to create a trauma-sensitive, safe and supportive school. Highlighted in the video are the ways in which this school embraces parent engagement and student voice to help guide their efforts to create a vibrant learning community where all staff work together to create a school that embodies the values of safety, trusting relationships, connection, equity, belonging, and adaptability.
Everyone knows what it feels like not to belong, not to be welcome. Sometimes we feel rejected, left out, or hurt by lost friendships and partner relations. Now scientific literature corroborates that social rejection affects the brain in similar ways that physical pain does. Social rejection really does hurt! This is important information to consider as schools reopen, whether remotely or in person, especially for students who may already feel a lack of belonging or are marginalized.
Research on trauma-sensitive schools provides timely insights for educating students during this time of unprecedented crises. Boston University researchers completed “An Evaluation of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative’s (TLPI) Inquiry-Based Process: Year Three.” The report evaluated the efficacy and sustainability of the trauma-sensitive culture changes that occurred in three demonstration schools that used TLPI’s inquiry-based process.
In our recent interviews, trauma-sensitive school leaders pointed to the importance of teamwork, collaboration, and staff cohesion for mitigating stress and helping educators feel effective and empowered.