Over the past few months, members of REACH’s Prevention team and our Child and Adolescent Therapist have been brought into various educational spaces to lead trainings and professional development sessions on trauma. We have led workshops for faculty and staff at a conference for elementary schools in Waltham, for new teachers and faculty at McDevitt Middle School, for the Take Back the Night Student Club at Needham High School, during a 2-part professional development for elementary faculty and staff at Waltham Public Schools, and for staff and faculty at Needham High School. Next month, REACH’s Youth Education Specialist, along with the PAVE Peer Leaders, will be co-facilitating a trauma training for a youth and adult community coalition through the Waltham Partnership for Youth.
We approach trauma trainings from both a prevention and intervention lens. We think about how to support youth, adults, and the whole school community to create trauma informed classrooms, and how to build skills that help us respond when someone is triggered. Here are two approaches we’ve been using lately:
- Trauma 101: An overview of trauma that explores how we define trauma, the neurobiology of trauma, and emotional, physical, and behavioral impacts of trauma (what form it could take, how it may show up in the classroom). If we have the opportunity to provide two sessions, then we also focus on building strategies to develop trauma informed classrooms and identifying internal and external resources and supports. The following is a description of a professional development series we facilitated for elementary school teachers in Waltham.
Strategies for Creating Trauma Sensitive Classrooms
Children’s experiences with trauma can interfere significantly with learning and behavior at school. For many students, school may be the only place a child feels safe, and therefore serves as a critical system of support for children. Administrators, teachers, and staff can help reduce the effects of trauma on children by recognizing trauma responses, accommodating and responding to traumatized students within the classroom, and referring children to outside professionals when necessary. In this strand, participants will develop skills to build positive, trusting relationships with students and tools to create a trauma-informed environment that fosters resiliency.
- Trauma stewardship: a discussion about how being exposed to trauma (from work, in our current or past lives) can impact us and how we can, and need to, take care of ourselves. We use Laura van Dernoot Lipsky’s work as reference. Below is a description of a workshop we led for educators at Needham High School in November.
Caring for Ourselves is Caring for Our Students
Every day, educators bear witness to the impacts of trauma in their classroom. Young people share their stories with us through behaviors (acting out, withdrawing, overachieving), attitudes (angry, distracted, anxious), and their own words. We care deeply about our students and creating a safe and supportive learning environment. As teachers, we also have our own stories and our own pain- both past and present. The goal of this workshop is to create a space to acknowledge the cumulative toll bearing witness to trauma can have on us, and develop strategies to care for ourselves and support one another in doing this important and impactful work.
If you are an educator or work in a school environment and you are interested in learning more about training opportunities, please contact our Director of Prevention Programs, Jessica Teperow, at firstname.lastname@example.org.