I’m Not Trained to Help Students with Needs Like This
Session notes from “I’m Not Trained to Help Students with Needs Like This,” led by Amy Mason.
What were the speaker’s main messages?
Our students are coming to school having experienced various levels of trauma. Unfortunately, working with kids who have experienced trauma was probably not part of your undergraduate classes or even part of your administrative program. But, at the end of the day, while you might not be able to fix the trauma, you might be their only chance for help and support. Fortunately, we can find hope in restorative practices.
What was the speaker’s best quote?
“Two students can upset the balance of an entire school, but no amount of ‘discipline’ or punishment would ever address the trauma that the students have had or continue to experience.”
What were the top ideas from the session?
- There is great promise in restorative circles. Start by training your faculty. Train them on restorative circles by working on their own promises of practice. Equip them with a “can do” attitude (and to QTIP–quit taking it personally) through professional learning on how to work with kids during calm/neutral times and give them strategies they can refer back to in times of crisis. Encourage ownership in this process and don’t forget to document and celebrate your successes.
- Be sure to use your master schedule to reflect the priorities you have to build relationships between staff and students.
- Don’t underestimate student voice; ask and listen to your students. Is there an instructional mismatch? Do the students feel like they have any control? Are there flexible seating choices? Do they get any grouping or incentive input? Are there choices for academic requirements (meeting multiple intelligences)?
What is one strategy that will help you with instructional leadership?
You have to equip your staff with knowledge about trauma and strategies on how to work with students who have experienced trauma.
What is one idea you want to learn more about?
The Tale of Two Schools–Schools tend to fall into two camps: 1) Punitive: Zero Tolerance Educational System or 2) Positive: Restorative Practices Based Educational System. The approach your school takes when dealing with discipline and crisis can have a long term impact on student and their success. You can learn more about The Tale of Two Schools by reading the restorative practices guide.
What are resources you will check out?
I can’t wait to tell my teachers about this idea:
When working with a kid in crisis you can continue to over educate or help them regulate. You can’t reason with someone who is escalated, so continuing to rationalize with them won’t work. Everyone is better served by helping the kid self regulate before processing the situation.
What are some relevant or surprising stats you learned?
It takes 20-30 minutes to come back down after trauma or escalation.
Notes by Todd L. Brist, Watertown Middle School, Watertown, South Dakota.