Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Giving Teachers Tools to Manage Student Trauma

Posted by Rachael Ballard Filed under: Programs

According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, childhood trauma, if not adequately addressed, can cause a magnitude of long-term effects for children, including cognitive issues. For children who have experienced trauma or have grown up in an environment with constant threats, most of their energy goes toward survival, which can negatively affect their reasoning, problem-solving and ability to plan ahead – all skills that students need for their education.

The Huffington Post recently published a blog titled “What Teachers Aren’t Learning” written by Jeffrey Cipriani, a second grade teacher in Boston. A majority of the students in Cipriani’s schools come from impoverished families and with that comes a different set of skill sets that teachers must master. Cipriani’s school partners with Vital Village, a community network local to Boston, to help educators learn how to manage student trauma. Vital Village’s goal is to empower students in trauma-sensitive classrooms to navigate their emotions before conflicts start.

In Cipriani’s classroom, Vital Village provided a sensory box to help students calm down when they start to feel anxious about problems at home. Sticks of lavender, soothing music and even molding clay help students refocus on their classwork. Cipriani also encourages students to share their feelings with him, but asks they hand him a written note if it is of a personal matter. Students refer to emotional vocabulary posted in the classroom to help them articulate their thoughts. A combination of these tactics, as well as an open mind, is how Cipriani helps students manage their trauma and succeed in school.

Cipriani argues colleges should do a better job of educating students about the roles of community organizations and how they can help families in need. He also argues that teachers need to learn about supporting students in distress. PublicSchoolWORKS Student Behavior, Intervention & Support catalog includes online courses on ways to better support students. To learn how you can provide your teachers with these course, email us today.

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