Introduction to Trauma-Informed Teaching | Amy Marschall, Psy.D. | Skillshare

Introduction to Trauma-Informed Teaching

Amy Marschall, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

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1 Lessons (34m) View My Notes
    • 1. Introduction to Trauma Informed Teaching


About This Class

This class will provide an overview and introductory information about the philosophy behind trauma-informed teaching, examples of what this looks like in the real world, and help you develop your own plan for creating a trauma-informed classroom.


1. Introduction to Trauma Informed Teaching: again. I'm doctor in martial clinical psychologist who specializes in child and adolescent psychology. I'm certified in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and have other training in trauma informed care for Children and adolescents. Last time I posted it was a class about using trauma and formed teaching as a way to guide how disciplined boundaries air handled in the classroom. I thought it would be good to take a step back and give more of a general overview of what trauma and form teaching is and what that means for teachers in classrooms. Because a lot of the kids that you're working with are going to have charm of history, whether you know about it or not. This is a way of taking a step back from seeing things in a punitive way or thinking of kids as giving you a problem or being bad kids and putting that focus more on helping them either best Selves, finding out what their needs are finding ways to meet them, helping them even learn to communicate. Because generally these kids don't even know what it is that they need because, like, I like to say, there are no bad kids. They're just kids who are having a hard time, so let's get started. So, like I said, this class is an introduction to trauma informed teaching. First, I want to go over a little bit what my goals are. In teaching this class, I want to provide a basic definition for what trauma informed teaching is so that you have a picture in your mind of what you're trying to do. When you say that you're setting up a trauma informed classroom, I'm going to give a little bit of education about what childhood trauma is and how it can impact a child's performance in the classroom. I also want to help teachers learn how to problem solve some common classroom issues from a trauma informed rather than a punitive perspective. We do tend to take Children's misbehavior and see it as something that needs to be punished away rather than something that we can help them with something that we can walk with them with to help them and then for your class project. I want you to create your own working explanation for what trauma informed teaching means for you in your specific classroom trauma. Informed teaching itself isn't so much a set of instructions for the quote unquote right way to be trauma informed or the best way to have your classroom set up. It's more of philosophy that underlines your decisions as a teacher. So for you, trauma informed teaching might look a little bit different than for someone else because you're a different individual. The point is to have this underlying philosophy, this trauma approach to every interaction that you have with your students. So, like I said, I want to talk a bit about childhood trauma. The ASIS study is a big name in childhood trauma. Right now, this is a long term study that measured what different traumas are as well as their impact on Children. The link There is, to a little bit more information from the Center for Disease Control about the results of this study. The CDC Kaiser Permanent Adverse Childhood Experiences Study is a huge investigation of the impact of abuse, neglect and house hood household challenges on Children not only in childhood, but how it can impact them later in life. Originally, this was conducted from 1995 to 1997. Ah, looking at the health maintenance organization members from Southern California looked at physical exams, confidential surveys and different childhood experiences, and how it impacted current health status and behaviors for Children and adults so into adulthood. How these things impact you. Another thing that we found about childhood trauma in general is that the impact of the trauma on the child later in life doesn't necessarily just relate to the specific trauma itself, but looks at the social support and the response of the trauma. An individual who, for example, experiences a car accidents. And during that car accident, no matter how severe the car accident was, if they truly believed that their life was about to end, that they were going to die. That is a traumatic experience, and the impact on them long term has less to do with how severe the crash was or whether or not they thought they were going to die. But the support that they got after the fact. So if people were responding, for example, saying, Well, what did you why did you think you were going to die? That's stupid. There's no reason for you to be upset. That person is not going to fare as well as someone who got the response of I am so sorry that happened to you that sounded terrifying. Let's get you the support and resource is you need to cope with that. So that is where trauma informed teaching comes in, because the Aces study did show that Children who experience more adverse childhood experiences are more likely to have risky behaviors such as smoking, reckless driving, drug use, binge drinking things like that which feed back into physical health problems as well as social problems lacking the social support systems to help them get through additional stressors. Higher risk for divorce, higher risk for early death and higher risk to create adverse childhood experiences in their own Children. Continuing the cycle of the trauma So the ace questions looks specifically at the 1st 18 years of life. So what happens to Children? Abuse is defined in a couple of different ways. Emotional abuse can be that the adults in your life were swearing at you, insulting you putting you down. Um, maybe didn't actually hurt you, but lead you to believe they could hurt you if they wanted Teoh um, physical abuse. So the adult pushing, grabbing, slapping throwing, hitting you leaving bruises physically injuring you, breaking bones, etcetera, Um, sexual abuse. So someone touching in a sexual way, making you touch them in a sexual way. Sexual intercourse. Things like that. In addition to abuse, another adverse childhood experience category was household challenges. So basically, this study found that Children who witnessed apparent being physically abused, pushed, grabbed, slapped, um, kicks punched, etcetera psychologically, is the same impact to witness it happening to a caregiver as having it happened to themselves. So if you get up divorce situation where the person is claiming Well, yes, there was domestic violence. Yes, I hit their other parent. But I never put my hands on the child psychologically. To the child, it's exactly the same. Another household challenge. Substance abuse. If a parent is an alcoholic or a drug user, um, mental illness. If the parents has a severe untreated mental illness now, this is not to say that people with mental illness cannot be good parents. This is that someone with a mental illness that is not managed, someone who is unstable, who their depression or their bipolar disorder causes them to be unavailable emotionally or physically. Um, having a parent have a suicide attempt. Those kinds of things are adverse childhood experiences. Um, having your parents separate or get divorced is an adverse child experience. However, I do like to caveat that statement by saying that sometimes the divorce is not as bad as the adverse child experience of the parents staying together and being violent with each other, using drugs, etcetera on and then finally, household challenge. Having ah household member go to prison. So if a parent is arrested now, this doesn't just mean that the child witnessed the arrest, although that itself is also a trauma. But having a family member go to prison and then neglect Ah, someone in the family. The child does not have parents meeting their emotional needs or their physical needs. So there's not feeling loved, not feeling protected, not healing, important or special within the family. And then physical neglects not having clean clothes, not going to doctor's appointments, not enough food to eat, etcetera, not thinking, not knowing where the next meal was going to come from. So these are the different things that a child could experience to cause them to have these aces and having this doesn't encompass every form of trauma. Obviously, these air just the adverse child experiences that specifically correlate to these negative health outcomes. These negative mental health, physical health, social functioning outcomes later in life. So kids who have these experiences, like I said, they're at higher risk for things like substance abuse they're more likely to be have difficulty holding jobs, keep a marriage, be able to provide support for their own Children in the future. And support around these aces can reduce their risk for those kinds of things. And that is where trauma informed teaching comes in Now. Another thing to note about the Aces study is that a single adverse child experience doesn't automatically mean that a child is going to have all these problems growing up. Children can be very resilient, especially when they have that support in place. Also, the ASIS study found that it was usually 3 to 4 aces before it's the child started to correlate with these other negative health outcomes in adulthood. So, for example, if the parents get divorced, that does fall under the aces. But if they are able to avoid these other adverse childhood experiences, it doesn't automatically mean that their child is going to have all these health problems. However, I have talked a bit about how you never know what kind of trauma all your students air going through. You might not realize that a child has the trauma history, but I'm sure some of the kids in your class come from blended. Families have divorced parents, so there are kids in your class who have these traumas. So that would be a good argument in favor of adopting this philosophy, even if you're not sure how many of your students it applies to moving on. What is trauma informed? Teaching? This definition comes from Angela Watson. She does the truth for teachers podcast and talks about trauma informed teaching being able to implement these things into the classroom. She is actually a great resource if you're looking at creating a trauma informed classroom , um, in your school. So her definition says that trauma informed teaching is not a curriculum set of prescribed strategies or something you need to quote add to your plate. Unquote. It's more like a lens through which you choose to view your students, which will help you build better relationships, prevent conflict and teach them effectively. So that means, like I said, it's less a thing you do and more a philosophy through which all of your actions are informed. One of the best definitions four trauma comes from rice and groves. A 2005 article Trauma is an exceptional experience in which powerful and dangerous events overwhelm a person's capacity to cope. So going beyond just the adverse childhood experiences. Like I said, there are a lot of things that are traumatic that weren't put on that list. And this definition is great because it's not just about what is a trauma. Specifically, it's what is a trauma to the individual. If you've seen that photo of the two dogs that there's the adult golden retriever and the baby and the golden retriever adult has mud up about 1/4 of the way up its leg and the baby has it up to its chin, and it says, How deep is the mud? It depends on who you ask. Basically, we each have a different level of capacity to cope with different situations. Something that might be traumatic for me might not feel traumatic to someone else, something that I might think is not a big deal someone else might think is a major trauma. So trauma's not necessarily violence. It can be a sudden change in a living situation. It could be bullying from other peers, which is another way that the cycle of trauma can continue. There are instances where bullying is due too low empathy or poor social skills. But also there could be times that a child who has experienced trauma reenacts that trauma by bullying other kids. It can come out as reenacting what has been done to them, whether it's physical abuse, whether it's sexual, acting out, things like that. So a lot of times our impulse is that's a problem behavior. We need to punish it instead of stopping to think what's causing that behavior. And how can I respond in a way that's going to teach this child why that behaviour is not okay? Ah, lot of times kids who are being abused in some way at home reenact the abuse, and then they're punished for it and simply just told, you know, don't do that anymore. I'm going to take away this privilege. You're gonna have a time out, etcetera. instead of saying, OK, what can we do? What's going on for this child that they're acting out in this way? When we respond punitively, it just teaches them that that's how we interact with the world. It reinforces what they've learned at home of. I get abused, I get hurt. This is how we're supposed to treat other people. So trauma informed teaching is about breaking that cycle, and I talk a little bit more about what that could look like specifically related to discipline in the other class. In the first class that I posted here, the trauma informed teaching with discipline and boundaries. So when Children have been traumatized, what might that look like in the classroom? Because first of all, ah, child doesn't know what abuse is. A child doesn't know what trauma is, and a child doesn't know what the world around them is supposed to look like. A child just knows their own experience, and often times they assume that that experience is typical until they're taught differently. So if a child sees their parents being physically violent with each other, they're going to learn that that is how we resolve conflict. If a child is not having their physical needs met in the home. They're going to learn that I can't rely on other people, especially the adults who are supposed to take care of me. I need to take care of myself so that can lead to different forms of acting out. Um, specifically, for example, a child who's learned I can't rely on adults to keep me safe. They're not going to follow protocol if you teach the kids in your class. Hey, if you're having X wires e problem, you need to not fight back physically. You need to go and get a teacher and let the adults handle it. A child who's learned that adults aren't going to take care of them properly isn't going to come to you with. I'm being bullied So and so pushed me. They're going to know I need to handle this myself, and they're going to lash back out. So that's why you want to factor that in and us, the teacher need to show them you can't necessarily fix what's going on at home, but you can at least show them that you will be there for them. You will stand up for them. If they're having a problem in your classroom, you will take care of it. So that can be a corrective experience for some of what they're learning at home and can also at least help them learn that. And in this setting, I don't need to be fighting back all the time. So in the classroom. And this is from an article in a tolerance dot org's, uh, magazine responding to trauma in your classroom. What can trauma look like? Excessive anger, startled reaction, loss of appetite or can go the other way. Kids who have experienced neglect are often food insecure in their hoarding food fatigue, aggression, tardiness, absences, perfectionism, controlling or anxious behaviour. Poor concentration, somatic complaints. So I have a headache. I have a stomach ache, self confidence problems, irritability, cleanliness, trouble making friends, self harm, hoarding of items or food. A lot of times, kids who have that neglect will have this mindset of I might need it later. I need to hold on to it. Risky behaviours, which as they get older, can be drug or alcohol use. Younger kids can. It can show sexual acting out if they have experienced sexual abuse reenacting that abuse panic attacks, which can look like outbursts, can look like aggressive outbursts. Extreme self reliance. So not being able to show you that they can rely on you not being able to let you take care of a situation, um, running behavior literally feeling like I need to escape this situation. Defiance. And then when you're seeing all of these behaviors that tends to lead to being alienated from, here's because kids will start to label them as O. That's a bad kid. That kid has problems. I don't want to be friends with them. I don't want to be associate ID with that person. So you, as the teacher can model acceptance can model. Okay, we're not saying that Johnny's a bad kid were saying that he's he's a kid who has some problems, and he's having a hard time because a lot of times the punitive approach reinforces to kids that that kid is bad and we should not hang out with them. And then the child is further isolated further and feeling like they need to rely on themselves and then further spiraling into these pork problem behaviors so these kinds of symptoms can be the result of trauma. They can also be the result of other mental health issues. Anxiety, Depression 80 HD. But although I am talking specifically about trauma informed teaching, I feel like most of these this philosophy, and most of these techniques can apply to pretty much any child, because your goal is to teach them to be better. Your goal is to meet them where they are and help them be their best Selves, rather than just punishing away bad behaviour so they can come through so they can respond to these kind of techniques, they can respond to this form of teaching, regardless of whether they have what you might define as a specific trauma. And like I said, you never know who has had a traumatic experience. Any child could have a trauma history and what is defined as a trauma. History is going to vary from child to child, so this will help not only the classroom as a whole, but each individual student. This kind of mindset will help your students to trust you toe like you to have positive interactions with you and learning how to build positive relationships and having that restorative experience, you might be the first adult in their life who doesn't just assume that they're a bad kid. So how can teachers be trauma informed? This is a couple of tips from again tolerance that or go. And then the inspired treehouse dot com, which is a resource for teaching and, specifically, trauma informed teaching. So trauma informed teaching isn't just interventions or behaviors that are gonna fix the child's trauma or fix the behaviors magically. It's that mindset and approaching teaching and approaching relationship with your students . That puts those students emotional needs at the front and keeps an awareness of the impact of trauma on their behavior. Without saying I want to just punish this behavior away, it's saying, OK, what might be the underlying cause of this behavior? And how can we meet a need so that the child no longer feels like they need to engage in this behavior? Um, ongoing education for yourself about trauma and how it impacts students. Another thing that a lot of people don't realize as adults is that three Aces study had found that one in three Children are affected by adverse childhood experiences. Those Children grow up into adults. You as an adult need to look at your own history and see if there's a possibility that you have a trauma history that you have not addressed. Like I said, Children don't automatically know what is abuse. What is trauma? They just know what they've experienced. Ah, lot of times we, as adults might realize we never actually questioned our own history. We might have assumed that certain things are normal when those things might actually be traumatic. So this is an opportunity for you to look back and see what you may have experienced that you're carrying without even realizing it as something that I would recommend that everyone do is go to the Center for Disease Control website that I had showed earlier in the presentation and take the Aces survey for yourself, see what your score is. Is there some trauma that you maybe don't know about? Maybe there is. Maybe there isn't. And if not, then that's fine. But if there is, then you need to be aware of the impact of your own trauma because, like I said, Children with adverse childhood experiences are at more risk for a lot of things that cause adverse childhood experiences for their own Children. So this is your opportunity to maybe break the cycle of your own history. So, um, being trauma informed. First of all, you want to establish safety in your classroom, and you want to communicate to your students that your classroom is a safe space. So having specific behaviour contracts, either in writing or with kind of picture visual aids, so that students know that you are committed to keeping the environment safe. Teaching students about anti bullying, not just saying Don't bully people. I feel like bullying is a serious problem, but we don't look enough at teaching Children what it is and what it looks like. Um, pretty much no students or few students would say, I am a bully, but a lot of kids will engage in bullying behavior, so it's teaching them not to do those behaviors. A little side note about something called cognitive dissonance. When we talk about labeling students who engage in bullying behaviours as quote unquote bullies, we kind of reinforced to kids that their behavior might not be bullying, and that is because cognitive dissonance is where we have trouble holding two truths that are contradictory if a student thinks while bullies air bad kids and I'm not a bad kid and therefore I'm not a bully, and therefore what I did can't be described as bullying. If we take a step back from that and say, You know what? Everybody makes bad choices. Sometimes everybody has maybe done something that falls under bullying. Sometimes it doesn't mean you're bad and it doesn't mean your bully. It means that you have the opportunity toe learn better choices, and this can come up at any point in a child's development. It's never too late to help them turn a corner and make better choices in the future. Um, that was a little bit of a tangent, but, um, continuing to teach ah, positive community among the students. So that's not This is a bad kid, and you shouldn't hang out with them. But helping them for positive social relationships with each other show kids what empathy looks like. Show kids what active listening looks like be that model for them, that even when there is a conflict or an altercation and it's clear that one child was in the wrong, they should not have done that behavior still give that child the opportunity to share their side of what happened? Because otherwise again, you're you're falling into the trap of labeling them. Oh, this is a bad kid. This kid did a bad thing. They're wrong. They need to be punished. No, you're showing them that even though I don't agree with what you did. And even though that was objectively a bad choice, I'm still here to listen to you and I still care about you. And you're still worthy of this positive interaction regardless of what you did and giving them the opportunity to talk through what they did will actually help them cognitively to notice. Oh, okay. That was my mistake. That's what was wrong. When you go full, fully punitive on them, it can trigger defensiveness. And no, I wasn't in the wrong. And now you're just being mean. So that's ways of establishing safety in the classroom. Also, positive reinforcement over discipline. I talk about this more in my discipline and boundaries in trauma informed teaching. Ah, first restorative justice. That's where that goes. Beyond having consequences fits the kind of letting the punishment fit the crime. It's not only does the consequence line up with the behavior so that they have that pairing up. Okay, when I do this, this happens. So I should make a better choice, but also helping them have the opportunity to fix what they did wrong that will help their self image and self esteem of OK. Even if I make a mistake, I can fix it. And that keeps them from falling into what I like to call the broken cell phone trap. Um, if I know that whatever I did wrong is not fixable, then I'm not going to bother to try to fix it. If I think I'm a bad kid, I'm going to lean into that. It's like if I dropped my cell phone on the ground and I think, Well, I probably broke it. It can't be fixed. I might as well stomp on it a couple of times. That doesn't make any sense. You should pick it up, see if it can be salvaged. You can know to try harder next time to not make that mistake. So you're teaching kids that they can be better, they are capable of getting better, and they're not bad and they don't need to lean into that. I'm a bad kid mentality. Um, having the student give input on what a consequence might be that fits with what they did wrong can help them think through and can help them understand the connection. It can also give you an idea of where they're coming from. Um, teachers sometimes are not really sure about this intervention because they're concerned that the students going to say Well, you know, my consequence should be that I give up my iPad for 15 minutes and then I get it back, and then we never talk about it again. And they're thinking students are gonna really under play. What they're consequence should be that is possible. But I'm not saying that, Okay, you say yes, that's that's what your consequence will be. I'm saying that's a starting point for a conversation. Okay, Why do you feel that? That's a fitting consequence. Do you really think that that matches up with what you did? But also, more often than not, I have found when you ask a child, what should your punishment be for this? What should your consequence be for this? And I try to shy away from using the word punishment. I'm or say consequence. But when you ask a child, what should my consequence B? What should your consequence be there mawr inclined to go the other way with it of I should Oh, my goodness. I should never be allowed to have recess again. I'm taking it to that extreme, so that can give you an opportunity to help them. Reality test. Okay, How bad really was that choice? And that again can pull them out of the cycle of Well, I'm a bad kid, so I might as well, bad kids do bad things. So I'm gonna I shouldn't even try. Basically, um, the best way to teach kids appropriate behavior is to focus on the good, try to praise more than criticise, try to find something good that they did. And even when there is a need for criticism, point out the positives Say, Oh, okay. I see that this is what you were trying to do, and that is a wonderful thing. However, here is kind of where it went wrong. Let's problem solve how to be better. Also, there are ways to be proactive with this. Teach kids stress management. Teach kids coping skills, Teach kids how to take breaks. I'm gonna make some more classes about how to create space in your classroom for sensory breaks and how to incorporate things like stretching and yoga to help kids. Um, get into situations where you need to have conflict resolution or consequences less often because that's the ideal. It's not finding the perfect way to give Children consequences. It's helping them learn good choices so that those consequences aren't needed as much. Um, well, okay, my screen went black for a second, but looks like I fixed it. Now be aware of the impact of the sensory environment in your classroom, so give kids sensory breaks when they might be getting overstimulated. Create some sensory positive environment. Makes sensory towards available to students. There's more information on that Ah website that I have noted there, and I am planning to create another class on how to create a sensory positive environment in your classroom That'll be coming up in a few weeks. So these are some things that you might specifically see in a trauma informed classroom, even though a trauma informed classroom is more the philosophy behind it. So like I said, for one teacher, a trauma informed classroom might manifest in a different way from then another. But the underlying goal is the same. It's about helping these kids cope with these traumas. It's about keeping the possibility of that trauma in the forefront of your mind win working with these kids. So what steps will you take to make your classroom trauma informed? First, I want you to make a list of your own possible blind spots. So what kinds of things do you need to educate yourself about? Do you need to know more about the aces? Study about what trauma looks like about what behaviors in a child might look like? Trauma? Um, do you have your own mental health needs that aren't being met? Do you have your own trauma history that you might need to learn to cope with? So list how you will work to compensate for your own blind spots? Educate yourself in these areas so that not only will you be the best person you can be, because frankly, you deserve to have the your needs met. You deserve to have good mental health. You know adults have needs, too. And those needs need to be met. Every child with a trauma history hopefully will eventually become an adult. And that adult will still have that trauma history. So what would you like? What would you have liked your child? Self toe Have that you can now pass on to someone else. So to get a bit more concrete, then I want you to list what you would need for your classroom to be trauma informed. What does discipline look like for you as a trauma informed teacher? How will you address bullying both teaching students about bullying and responding when bullying occurs? How will you respond when a student is having a meltdown? Ah, difficult day. A hard time running away. How will you make sure that you're keeping in mind this philosophy when you're responding to these kids? As you put together, this plan start to give shape to the theories behind trauma informed teaching and what specifically it's going to look like in your classroom. So I hope that this gave you a helpful overview of what trauma informed teaching is and helped you come up with an idea of what trauma informed teaching is going to look like for you in your classroom.