How to Implement Trauma-Informed Care, Equity, and Anti-bullying Programs with One Important Practice: The practice of meeting the socio-emotional, and creative needs of every student in your class is worth mastering. And it isn’t that difficult once you have the process, system, or formula. There are three strategic moves to accomplish this practice.
- First, master the art of turning unwanted behaviors into resiliency skills.
- Second, add a socio-emotional and creative component to your lesson plans.
- Third, create a sense of community within the classroom.
This blog ends with The Students You Serve as I thought it was critical for teachers to understand the reasons for our struggles in the classrooms across the nation.
Step 1. Turn Unwanted Behaviors into Resiliency Skills
There is an art to using an unwanted behavior as a learning opportunity. A teacher’s response to a student’s behavior is helpful, harmful, or neutral with respect to both the teacher and the student’s mental health.
Begin by deciding that you will not react to the student’s observable behavior rather you will interact based on the motivation behind the behavior. There is a process that can easily be mastered to accomplish this goal.
Imagine you are a captain of a ship. You spot an iceberg floating in your path. You can see the top part of the iceberg, but you know the larger part is hidden from sight. It is the hidden part you need to see to avoid the iceberg. But how do you see what is hidden from sight? Radar, sonar, or a submarine with a periscope can be used to analyze the situation and maneuver in a way that protects the ship, the captain, the passengers, and the iceberg. Imagine that a student’s behaviors are similar to an iceberg. You observe the behavior, it is in sight. What you cannot see is the motivation behind the behavior that is hidden from sight. Yet, it is the motivation that must be addressed if you want to protect the class, yourself (the captain), each student (the passengers) and the student (from his/her own behaviors).
To best serve the class and yourself, I advise teachers to identify their own feelings about the students behavior (e.g. annoyed, worried, challenged, hurt, discouraged); and choose the response that goes with it. There is a wonderful chart that lays this process out. The chart, The Belief Behind the Behavior, is based on the psychology of Alfred Adler and Rudolph Dreikurs, adapted b Jody McVittie from similar schema by Steven Maybell and Jane Nelsen. The best news is that teachers avoid frustration, the student gets his socio-emotional needs met, the student simultaneously builds resiliency skills, the class and each student in the class are supported too.
Step 2. Add a Socio-emotional, and Creative Component to Your Lesson Plans
The more support teachers provide for socio-emotional wellbeing during class time the less likely students are to be annoying and disruptive. Bored students are annoyed students—they do not want to be there. Providing opportunities for students to work together, collaborate, cooperate, problem solve, and create, the more they enjoy class time, and learn.
Some teachers say “I can’t take on one more thing,” or “I do not have enough time to add a socio-emotional and creative component to a lesson.” I understand their fears. Teachers are expected to do so much more than teach the subjects they are trained to teach. But, on the other hand we know that there is a lot of pressure on teachers for outcomes. And the disruptive behaviors result in lost time too. Adding a socio-emotional and creative component is not difficult.
- Make a list of social, emotional, and creative skills.
- Use the skills list to identify a skill you want to help your students develop,
- Then implement on activity that provides students an opportunity to build that skill. For example, you decide you want to provide your students with an opportunity to build the emotional skill, empathy. Any lesson plan can be used to discuss how the student feels about a character in the story, or how they would feel if they were the character in a story.
Example of Socio-Emotional Math Lesson
Math is likely the most challenging yet not impossible to develop a socio-emotional and creative (SEC) component. In fact, math teachers are very creative at ways to add a SEC to lesson plans. Allow students to work together on a learning unit. Then ask them how they felt about it? Teaching Sudoku and having students complete puzzles during class, or for homework is a way one math teacher opens discussions about emotions (beliefs and feelings) and math skills. One high school teacher uses discussions to ask students how they feel about math, and for ideas of how those who “get it” can support those who are “getting it.” He reported that he discovered many of his students were struggling because they had not mastered their multiplication table. He responded by creating a fun class game that was played immediately before class was scheduled to end.
Extra Benefits of Lessons With A Social-Emotional Component
Teachers who use socioemotional and creative components report that they discover things about their students they never would have known, the have more fun with students, and students are more cooperative and work to keep each other accountable.
Creating a community within the classroom is another brilliant way to deliver trauma-informed care, equity, and anti-bullying on campus.
Step 3. Create a Community In The Classroom
Teachers can use roll call, class responsibilities, agreements and routines to create a community within the classroom that establishes belonging/connection, significance/meaning. There is much more to creating a community but these are a few tips to start with.
Roll Call for Classroom Community Building
Use roll call to check in with students and let them know how you are doing too.
When you call their name ask them to give a weather report: “How’s your weather today?” Sunny, Gloomy, Stormy?
Give Responsibilities (meaningful work) To Students
We create community, belonging, and significance when we are contributors. Ask students to volunteer and be responsible for task that benefit the community (classroom).
Here are a few examples of responsiblities that students can be given.
- Be a buddy-identify and record, the responsibilities of a buddy (be sure to post where all can see it)
- Be a leader-identify and record, the responsibilities of a buddy (be sure to post where all can see it)
- Time Keeper
- Agreement Checker (Chooses a day or two days a week minimum to ask the class “how are we doing on our agreements?”
- Be a collector-identify and record, the responsibilities of a buddy (be sure to post where all can see it)
- Teacher assistant – identify and record, the responsibilities of a buddy (be sure to post where all can see it)
- Scribe- identify and record, the responsibilities of a buddy (be sure to post where all can see it)
Establish Agreements and Routines
Engage students in the process of establishing agreements. To set agreements:
- Ask students “What bugs you when you are in a class and what do you need to be supported?”
- Record all responses on flip chart.
- Provide guidelines for helpful versus harmful feedback- no put downs, no calling a person out: for example, if one student constantly disrupts the class, how can we help the student without embarrassing him/her.
Establish guidelines and agreements on helpful ways to handle giving feedback. For example, implement this phrase for
- It Bugs me when_________ I need or I prefer_________?
In the classroom, routine creates belonging and a sense of connection.
Here’s an example of using curiosity questions to establish routine:
“When class begins, I notice it is challenging to get everyone calm and ready to pay attention. I’d like your help in identifying a routine that we can try. What do we need to be ready to learn?
Note: at the beginning of each week ask the class how are we doing with our agreements? Thumbs up means good, thumbs down means not so good. If there are numerous thumbs down, take 5 minutes to ask what do we need to improve or how could we do better? It is important that students not embarrass other students: set up guidelines for appropriate feedback.
The adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) study alerted educators that these experiences have a significant impact on the learning of children, teens, and young adults; and negatively impact the learning environment for all students. Youth who have been repeatedly exposed to trauma suffer from additional psychological, intellectual, social, and even biological issues. These young people struggle with self-regulation, self-control, and paying attention. They may be hypervigilant, which leads to impulsivity. They also could have great difficulty reading social cues. Together these issues also make it a challenge for them to form healthy relationships—they may perceive someone as a friend, who does not have their best interest at heart. A classroom can be a minefield for these kids, and teachers without the tools to support these kids, are likely to become frustrated, annoyed, irritated, and suffer burnout.
“Princeton, N.J.—New national data show that at least 38 percent of children in every state have had at least one Adverse Childhood Experience or ACE, such as the death or incarceration of a parent, witnessing or being a victim of violence, or living with someone who has been suicidal or had a drug or alcohol problem. In 16 states, at least 25 percent of children have had two or more ACEs. Findings come from data in the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health and an analysis conducted by the Child & Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.”
Programs such as Trauma-Informed Care, Equity and Antibullying have been implemented to address the symptoms of youth who are victims of ACEs. These symptoms include classroom disruptions, emotional outbursts, bullying, underachievement, and truancy. We also need to address the impact that these behaviors have on better adjusted kids. We talk a lot about mental health and its relationship to gun violence, suicide, depression, anxiety, social, alcohol, and drug addiction. Yet, few evidence supported strategies to address mental and emotional wellness of our youth have been implemented nationwide.
Oddly, every time a mass shooting occurs we hear the anti-gun opponents scream for gun control and stricter gun laws. Yet, there is silence as to how we might get better at supporting mental and emotional health. Obviously the gun violence challenge we have in America needs to be addressed on many levels—but mental and emotional health of our citizenry must be front and center if we really want to stop this insanity. Delivering mental and emotional supportive practices to every child, teen, and young adult in our educational system through Trauma-informed, equity, and anti-bully programs is a smart move for the nation.
Trauma Informed Care Consultation
Trauma informed care, equity and antibullying on campus doesn’t happen overnight. It does take a commitment and is well worth the effort of putting lesson plans together and ideally getting your entire campus, district or regions involved. Start with a consultation with Dr. Kim here.