5 Steps Toward a Trauma-Skilled School

Schools should be trauma-skilled versus trauma-informed. Learn to be more deliberate and proactive when working with trauma-impacted students.

Feodora - stock.adobe.com

July 2020, Volume 43, Issue 11

Every school in the U.S. has students who are trauma-impacted, and every school must be equipped to support them. But it’s not as important for educators to understand the exact trauma as it is for them to understand its influence on behavior and learning.

Schools should focus on being trauma-skilled versus trauma-informed, National Dropout Prevention Center’s report says, listing five things schools need to become more deliberate and proactive when working with trauma-impacted students:

  1. Knowledge: Establish a foundational body of shared knowledge and develop a vocabulary among staff regarding adverse childhood experiences and their effect on behavior and learning.
  2. Resiliency: Trauma- impacted youths are likely to be deficient in at least one of five essential resiliency factors—connection, security, achievement, auton­omy, and fulfillment. Structure experiences and instruction to help cultivate and reinforce these critical resiliency factors.
  3. Skills: All personnel must be skilled in four educator strategies—preven­tion, intervention, recovery, and referral—for success with trauma-impacted students. The goal is to prevent trauma from having a negative impact on learning and behavior, intervene when students fail to learn or behave appropriately, facilitate quick recovery when incidents occur, and refer stu­dents to treatment.
  4. Model: Focus on policies, practices, and people to find out whether your school has had an unintended negative effect on trauma-impacted students or undermined their resilience. Analyze the school’s culture, climate, and procedures to identify and eliminate practices that might be interpreted as threatening by trauma-impacted students.
  5. Plan: The long-term effectiveness of a trauma- skilled model requires a plan, implementation and maintenance of that plan, an outside review of policies and procedures to ensure that the faculty and staff remain knowledgeable and continue to make progress.

Read the full study.


Copyright © 2020. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.