TRAUMA SENSITIVE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT
Over the past three-decades, scholars have built a robust evidence base for the “trauma-informed” approaches implemented by medical and judicial systems—educators are becoming more sensitized to students’ past and current experiences with trauma, and they are developing their own approaches to help students break the cycle of trauma, as well as prevent retraumatization. Accordingly, educators are beginning to recognize and support traumatized students by engaging them in learning and supporting their success in school rather than punishing them (McInerney & McKlindon, 2014).
Creating a trauma-informed school climate requires the entire school community—certified and classified staff members, administrators and front office staff members, counselors and nurses, bus drivers and janitorial staff members, cafeteria and yard-duty staff members—to deepen its shared understanding of trauma’s impacts on learning and agree to a schoolwide approach . All staff members must work together as a team with a sense of shared responsibility for the physical, social, emotional, and academic safety of every student. When students’ needs are addressed holistically, the staff works together to help traumatized students improve their relationships, regulate their emotions and behavior, bolster their academic competence, and increase their physical and emotional well-being (Rodenbush, 2015).
Trauma-informed approaches are holistic and require a paradigm shift at both the staff and organizational level because they reshape a school’s culture, practices, and policies. Choosing a trauma-informed approach requires an entire school community to shift its focus to understanding what happened to a child rather than fixating on and punishing a child’s behavior outside the context of life experience. To be trauma informed, as with other child and family serving organizations, schools must be sensitive to the signs of trauma and provide a safe, stable, and understanding environment for students and staff members (Huang et al ., 2014). The primary goals are to prevent re-injury or retraumatization by acknowledging trauma and its triggers and to avoid stigmatizing and punishing students (Ford & Courtois, 2013). According to Huang et al. (2014), trauma-informed school discipline policies.
IINII uses a revolutionary Design Thinking process to help your students and staff members gain an understanding of one’s sense of self and what they deeply value. Having an understanding of one’s values matters because research has shown it is linked to better well-being, less stress and delinquency, and increased confidence in one’s ability to succeed. Understanding a sensitivity to students’ values can be developed with culturally responsive practices that reflect a student’s identity and experience. Adults can also be trained in antibullying strategies and techniques to build an inclusive climate. Particularly helpful is focusing efforts on cultural competence and relevance and providing opportunities for students to practice bridging differences between diverse identities in a safe environment.