School is supposed to be a happy and safe learning environment for all students. While it is to many, what about those who experienced trauma? How are teachers approaching this, or are they at all?
The whole purpose of school is to focus on learning new things. But when there is something wrong with the student, whether it’s physical or verbal bullying or abuse, family issues, or even the passing of a loved one, it not only affects the student, but also their education.
As we know, teachers are prepared and trained for cases like this to be sympathetic towards the student try to help to resolve issues. When these problems are not talked about amongst a trusted adult, it can cause the student to build up stress which can eventually come out in harmful ways. For example, on September 16th a boy named Diego Stolz was killed after getting in a fight with two other students at Moreno Valley Campus. This shows that when things aren’t taken seriously or talked to it can lead to serious injuries or even worse, death. In this case, teachers might use a strategy called conflict resolution to help the students resolve their issues before feeling the need to resort to violence.
According to Ms. Kremenetsky, we know that at Dana Middle School, our staff has been trained trauma informed teaching (also known as resiliency teaching). This approach focuses on building resilience in the student by acknowledging their social and emotional challenges while showing them that they have the tools and support at school to work through them.
When students aren’t payed any attention to it will only lead their problem to something worse like depression, anxiety, self-harm, or even worse, suicide. When a student has traumatic experiences they don’t react to stimuli (or events in their environment) in a way that most would expect. Teachers and administrators should be prepared for these scenarios.
Because of the anxiety and fear around safety, those with trauma can perceive even the most simple events as a threat to their safety. An interview on NPR Morning News from the President and CEO of the Children’s Bureau of New Orleans a mental health agency for families and children, explains, “If I’m walking down the hallway and somebody bumps into me, and I don’t have a significant trauma history, I’m gonna say ‘Oh, sorry, excuse me.’ Whereas a kid who’s been exposed to trauma on an ongoing basis, if somebody bumps into them that might be a threat.” This shows that the trauma from a student can really impact the way they act amongst themselves and others.
You may be thinking, “Well, schools do require training for teachers on this topic, so why wouldn’t they use it?” It is true that schools do provide training, but is it enough? Mental health is often a small discussed topic in schools. This brings most students to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss it with an adult. When a teacher has a student who is putting their heads down on their desk, most of the time their immediate reaction is to tell the student to pick their head up or try to jolt them awake. A trauma-informed approach would be to find a way to converse with the student gently and get to the root of the problem.
Teachers should have a more gentle approach and trauma-informed education is becoming more and more relevant in schools. Let’s all try to be kinder to one another because we never know what struggles or challenges the person is going through privately.