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uoducks uoducks is offline
 
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Trauma informed or trauma excused?
Old 05-17-2018, 02:53 PM
 
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I'd love to your honest feedback, experience and/or advice. I teach at a wealthy k-5 public school which does not qualify for Title in a city with a population of 120K. We have over five hundred students which is large for our city. The amount of kinders running freely through the hallway, kids hitting aides and teachers, and general lack of response to disruptive kids is really disheartening. On any given day you'll see kinders tearing through the hallways hooting and hollering with an aide who's job it is to trail behind and watch the student. She's not allowed to touch him. In PBIS terms I'm referring to the top 5% or tip of the triangle of poor behavior.
What does your school do?
It seems like Trauma Informed response is more like Trauma Excused response. Because these kiddos have a rough home life the response from the principal is pretty much nothing.
We have a 5th grade student who is super disruptive, non compliant, and defiant. Nothing happens. How do I help him when I'm busy teaching class? If/when he gets a minor referral ticket NOTHING happens! WTH?
Our counselor has her hands tied regarding dealing with all the disruptions and misbehavior.
My suspicion is that our principal is trying to make our suspension data look good so she's not inclined to send kids home.
Do we write an anonymous letter to the principal? Is that wimping out? She's not very approachable and definitely has a top-down style.
What's in like at your school?


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Old 05-17-2018, 03:32 PM
 
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My school is not wealthy. Almost 100% of kids at my school qualify for free and reduced lunch. I can’t imagine what my kids see and experience.

My principal is a “relationship person” (code for I won’t consequence). My AP is NOT. She would suspend but more than once she’s been overruled. The behaviors in the building are out of control right now and my AP is just throwing kids in ISS or outright suspending. My teammate and I firmly believe had she STARTED the year doing this and sent the message that these behaviors would NOT be tolerated we wouldn’t be having these issues now.

As for your options I don’t know your district. We have something called “Let’s Talk” and I’d get on that and say my admin isn’t following the code of conduct. Apparently that’s taken seriously. Can you contact a higher up or the union and share your concerns about behaviors? Maybe word it as student safety? In my district, if you say you’re worried they’ll get sued that gets results.

I do think trauma informed is becoming trauma excused. I just read somewhere something along the lines about teachers understanding that while kids have experienced trauma they still need to be held accountable for their behavior and learning because the world won’t make excuses just because they experienced trauma. That stuck with me.
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Old 05-17-2018, 04:02 PM
 
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My school's demographics are more like greyhoundgirl's. This has always been a point of contention at my school. This year, we got new admin and they appeared to be a lot tougher on behavior. Things started out better, but at the end of the year I can say we're truly not better off than in previous years.

One week my P will lead a PD about how to be authoritative in the classroom, how to get and keep 100% engagement with "no opt out," etc. and then the next week she will have the counselors lead a PD on trauma informed care with literally the exact opposite information. Just one small example, one of the "authoritative" things P is looking for is not praising expected behaviors (i.e. no "I like the way Johnny is sitting on the carpet.") The very next week counselors will get up and say that we need to give 5 compliments/praises for every 1 correction, which obviously doesn't pan out if you're not praising "expected behaviors."

The district hired a consulting company (which is a whole other vent) and the big area for improvement for our school is behavior systems. We've made our reading instruction very systematic and have seen huge gains. I don't know if it's possible for behavior but I sure hope there will be some big changes. I understand the idea behind trauma informed care, restorative practices, planning with kids, etc. but we have been doing this for years and it's not working.

On the one hand, I completely see how a student with a trauma background has every valid "excuse" to misbehave at school. On the other hand, like the pp said I have grave concerns about how just letting this happen is preparing these students for the future. How will they get and keep jobs or function as adults?
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Old 05-17-2018, 07:10 PM
 
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I had a homeless kid last year...literally living in a car with 4 other people. If he slept in class, I made him a nest or cuddled him as I taught. The quote below echoes in my head.

uoducks, I'm confused. You're not Title 1 and you say it is a wealthy area. Why so much trauma?
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Good Question
Old 05-17-2018, 07:34 PM
 
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uoducks, I'm confused. You're not Title 1 and you say it is a wealthy area. Why so much trauma?

Good question. There are lots of half million dollar homes in the my school's area and a few of the U of O Duck football coaches' kids at my school (1.5 million dollar homes). But we also draw from apartments and section 8 housing. So while we have lots of affluence it hides the poverty. Our free and reduced lunch rate is around 35% so that's at least 150 students in poverty.

In some ways our affluence has hurt us. We're not set up well at all to deal with our severe behavior issues (maybe 20 students) and pretty much run a bare bones staff. The aides work their tail off running from one part small group instruction to recess supervision back to instruction. These 20 kids have needs that surpass our resources/expertise. Every time we've had district trainers come in to speak about Trauma Informed care they paint a picture of one on one therapy or taking care of their personal needs but how do you do that in tandem with fulfilling all the responsibilities of teaching to all the students?
Anyone else struggle with this?
Any great programs out there?


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Money means nothing sometimes...
Old 05-18-2018, 03:12 AM
 
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I live in an affluent area (I'm not lol...)

Oxy, meth, Ritalin abuse knows no boundaries. Just because you make $200K doesn't mean you can't be an abusive sh*t parent. Parental unit gets his/her drunk on and breaks the kid's arm.

I worked in a very nice suburban small hospital. The area around it was almost all white and affluent.

Believe me, the ER ran just as many kiddie grams (xray to check for old healed fractures) and knew the CPS workers first names.


When I worked aftercare, we had parents do semi abusive nonsense to kids in the parking lot. Hit, pinch, scream, grab the kid by the hair and thrown them into the car.

The kid can sleep in nice digs and have monsters as parents.
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Trauma
Old 05-18-2018, 08:17 AM
 
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Wealthy does not equal perfect. There are many kinds of trauma and every socioeconomic area has its own unique set of possible obstacles.

We are just starting the trauma informed movement here - I’m not seeing a lack of consequence YET. I am seeing better discussions on problem solving student consequences - figuring out the right way to handle a student’s particular behavior - because of how we are making a concerted and deliberate effort to learn more about student backgrounds. Sometimes well-intentioned movements result in extremism that removes the efficacy of the movement. Keep trying your best to give logical and meaningful consequences within your classroom.
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Old 05-18-2018, 07:04 PM
 
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Zia-I canít tell you how many times my team mates and I say that exact same thing. We live by it. But, just because students have had or been exposed to trauma doesnít mean itís ok for them to destroy classrooms, attack teachers, swear, etc. especially as they get older.
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Old 05-18-2018, 07:40 PM
 
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I have worked in several different kinds of schools... more and more recently I see behaviors like youíve described in both high needs schools and more affluent schools. I do think that becoming trauma informed is important but itís discourging that for many it becomes an excuse. For the students that are coming from poverty... getting an education is an opportunity to break the cycle. School is a place to build resilience. When trauma becomes an excuse for behavior kids never learn to take responsibility.
In the more affluent schools Iíve been in the issue is more about parents being so accommodating and indulgent towards their kids, they canít handle things not being the way they want. They are so used to their parents ensuring that everything is perfect for them they have no tools to handle disappointment.
The most discourging conclusion Iíve come to as an educator is that much of the negative behavior we see in schools is often the direct effect of parents not taking responsiblity in one way or another.
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Old 05-19-2018, 06:13 AM
 
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I love Ziaís post. Absolutely true!

MissESL, we are in the same situation. Trauma is a consideration in how we handle a given situation, but the behaviour is not excused. There is still a consequence, but there is a concerted effort to bulk up the positive interactions these children get, strengthen the relationships within the school so they have adults within the building to turn to and strengthen the relationship with school and home to help provide support to them, if possible.

Too often a new initiative shows up and itís rolled out in a singular way. Letís not throw out the baby with the bath water! Iím sure Trauma Informed never stated, lose all consequences


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Old 05-19-2018, 09:26 AM
 
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UODucks, your principal can't suspend anyone. The OR legislature passed a law a couple of years ago that makes it difficult to impossible to suspend K-5 students. I think there's an exception for extreme violence, but I wouldn't be surprised if everyone is just staying on the safe side and never suspending anyone. (OEA is lobbying the leg about the "unintended consequences" of this law, eg everything you described, but nothing's happened yet.)

Anyway, my take on the whole trauma informed practice thing is that it's supposed to address teaching kids to make better choices (in a way that works for them given their experiences and the ways they've changed their brain wiring), but there aren't any resources for that so now we're just letting kids do whatever and calling it "trauma informed." Sigh.
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How I understand it...
Old 05-19-2018, 10:00 AM
 
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I feel that some people that may not have been through any trauma might "guilt teach" and let a child get away with things.

Trauma-Informed is understanding why they are doing things so you don't get mad at the kid, and picking your battles. They aren't allowed to be unsafe, disrespectful or disruptive. The end.

Example, my foster daughter has undergone severe trauma, she's doing so well!!! Sometimes when she shuts down she needs to hide to feel safe. I have a plastic tub to read in. They get 5 min to turn it around. The first few times they push it but after that no issues. They go to the tub, regroup, come back and join us.

Foster daughter used to have meltdowns around eating places/times. All tied to having serious food insecurity. We don't frequent fast food places, and she packs a lunch. if she acts up, there are consequences but it's an easy fix and one less "battle" to deal with.

Another example, some kids that "hold" their bowel movements and poop their pants is because of sexual abuse. Instead of being frustrated and yelling at the kid because they are doing it on purpose, be understanding and have wipes and underwear.... and maybe just happen to have a couple of Fiber One bars around for snack time
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Our school sounds very much
Old 05-19-2018, 10:27 AM
 
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like yours when it comes to some kids getting away with creating total chaos. There are zero consequences unless the teacher makes them and can get away with enforcing them.
In these types of schools, you have to use your creativity to the max to make consequences fit the crime, that the kid doesn't like, but do not seem punitive....lol
Part of the success for teachers (getting away with handing out consequences) is in the way they word the consequence and their voice tone. We try to keep it calm and helpful sounding...lol It can go something like this: I see that you are having a hard time doing ___, let me HELP you by _______. The 2nd blank is filled with a consequence that the kid does not like and can figure out why they are being helped...lol. Some of us do a lot of this: You can do ____ ( preferred activity) when you've ___ ( what they should have been doing). If they did something deserving, we ( most of us) make sure they do not have time to do that preferred activity because they wasted time. They usually "get it,"
With certain sped kids, they are so coddled that even many experienced teachers give up because the sped dept and office backs the chaotic kid no matter who they hit, cuss at, or threaten. I do not understand exactly why the sped teacher and P coddle the chaotic ones. I think the school or sped dept has to do something time consuming or gets dinged for any mention of a problem with the sped kids. It is sad because I watch the kids grow up and get progressively worse due to the rescuing and lack of meaningful consequences for really bad behavior. I may be wrong, but I think where I live, P's are pressured into being friends with the kids too. I would not write a letter to the P, personally. I really think some people either just don't "get it" or are too afraid to do what is right.
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Old 05-19-2018, 11:20 AM
 
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Quote:
But, just because students have had or been exposed to trauma doesnít mean itís ok for them to destroy classrooms, attack teachers, swear, etc. especially as they get older.
I get that. And no, it is never okay. I have been in some unsafe situations and I completely understand the frustration and powerlessness. What I remind myself though, is most of these kids...they aren't choosing the behavior. I don't think anyone wants to feel the way they do. I don't have answers. But it helps to keep me from being upset with the kiddo who is all reaction and zero logic.
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Old 05-19-2018, 01:23 PM
 
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Kids need boundaries. My nephews lost their mother in a horrific accident a few months ago. My five year nephew had a very healthy mom and 15 minutes later, mom didn't come back into the house to fix breakfast. It was heartwrenching for him and his big brother (7). In the weeks that followed he had a few melt downs - so he was allowed to hide in his closet and punch pillows. However, he was not allowed to hit his brother, his aunt, his dad, or anyone. Kids need boundaries. Because when they get to be adults, no police officer will say "Sorry about your mom, you can hit anyone." It will be "You hit him, you are charged with assault."

At the school I work with the protocol is:
1. Verbal warning;
2. Buddy room (sit in lower grade for 10 minutes)
3. Miss recess
4. ISS + phone call home
5. Call to home + meeting with campus security
6. OSS

Teachers are encouraged to follow the protocol for ALL children, even those who have had to deal with trauma.
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Old 05-20-2018, 07:34 PM
 
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Quote:
I can’t tell you how many times my team mates and I say that exact same thing. We live by it. But, just because students have had or been exposed to trauma doesn’t mean it’s ok for them to destroy classrooms, attack teachers, swear, etc. especially as they get older.
This is along the lines of what I was thinking. At least at my school, I think our "trauma informed" practices often lead kids to just continuing or even escalating the behavior rather than trying to address the issue. We have a K student this year who truly has had a very rough life, which none of us are unsympathetic too. She often cries and tantrums all day long. As soon as more "special plans" are created for her, she just escalates the behavior.

At the beginning of the year, it was more work avoidance type stuff. Now, she's realized if she ups the ante, she'll get tons of special attention, candy and toys, and 1:1 time with fun adults. Now she is throwing full on tantrums with screaming, throwing herself on the floor, throwing objects, trying to hit/kick other kids or her teacher etc. all. day. long. What motivation does she have to go join her regular K classroom with 28 other kids where she'll be expected to do work when she can play and be coddled with a counselor all day instead?

Any time anyone mentions this, we are accused of not being "trauma informed" or told that we should be more sympathetic to her home situation. I totally understand that it can be helpful of looking through the lens of the behavior not being the child's "fault," but IMO we still need to try to help them change the behavior.
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Old 05-21-2018, 04:06 AM
 
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I've never heard of "trauma informed" teaching.

I hear about kids' home lives through the grapevine, and I can figure some things out by what I observe. But I don't want to know every detail of what a kid goes home to. Maybe that sounds uncaring, but if I know too much I run the risk of feeling sorry for them and then being unwilling to enforce rules because of guilt or pity. I want my students to know that the rules are there for everyone. And the consequences are also there for everyone. I want them all to feel secure that procedures and rules will be followed and consequences carried out when they're not. That is what gives kids security and a feeling of safety. They don't feel safe knowing that they - or anyone else- can get away with breaking the rules. Also there are always going to be kids who are going through traumas that we will never know about. Every kid deserves to be treated with some degree of sensitivity and understanding.
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Old 05-21-2018, 05:53 AM
 
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As a foster parent, I can say that Trauma informed, may be the best thing to happen to foster care and adoption in 50 years. I can see numerous ways that it integrates with school. That said, I can also see how the "education community" could twist this into something unholy and bad, and further set these kids back. Traumatic reactions are really normal reactions to very abnormal situations. But kids’ coping reactions post-trauma remain poorly understood or misunderstood by parents, teachers and social workers in many cases, by many of the people who are in the best possible position to offer life-changing support and treatment to kids who have suffered trauma. It is important for teachers especially to understand that victims of traumatic events, such as human trafficking, forced drug use, sexual abuse, etc. will not always react or behave in the way that we would expect. Ironically FERPA may actually be a hindrance in many ways, as people who can make a difference are afraid to move on things. (My state legislators are wondering if recent school shooting lapses in judgment are due to FERPA)

Trauma-informed care means treating a whole person, taking into account past trauma and the resulting coping mechanisms when attempting to understand behaviors and treat the student. A non-student example of why trauma-informed care is so important is adult rape. Sometimes people only believe victims of rape when they are incredibly emotional when describing the details of the assault because that reaction is perceived to be the normal reaction to such trauma. But many of victims speak matter-of-factly and without affect or visible emotion about these traumatic events. This doesn’t mean that a victim is lying, or exaggerating claims. Rather, the stoicism is often tied to a victim’s desperate attempt to cope with trauma through detachment. Students do this exact same thing, yet we often dismiss it due to our perception, and this makes the issue worse.

There are many other situations in which the lens of trauma-informed care can help teachers and caregivers to better understand a trauma victim’s behaviors. The educational community as well as the general public have little understanding of the ramifications of trauma on children or adults. The result of this lack of understanding goes beyond an empathy gap or the lack of appropriate response for victims of trauma. It can result in judgmental attitudes and even re-victimization of those who have survived trauma. For another adult example; when people say they don’t understand why women in abusive relationships “choose” to stay, they must acknowledge that they are not coming from a place of being the trauma victim, and so their understanding about the reasons behind this may be limited. Adhering stereotypical beliefs about the “appropriate” behaviors for a rape victims is called rape myth acceptance. In societies with high levels of rape myth acceptance, victim blaming is more common and perpetrators may suffer few consequences. Another example is substance abuse. With substance abuse, a compassionate, trauma-informed approach is one that starts by acknowledging that people may use substances such as drugs or alcohol as a survival skill as the result of trauma. Without considering that perspective, healthcare providers will not be able to effectively provide help.

Teachers and caregivers in my opinion must be better trained and aware of the range of unexpected potential reactions they might receive from students, so that if they’re made aware of potential situations of abuse, or the unexplained reactions to unknown abuse, they can understand that an apparent lack of emotion doesn’t mean that a person has not been abused. (that kid is an emotionless thug and bully, when actually its a coping mechanism for being abused by moms boyfriend.) Addressing that myth and other limiting, dismissive narratives means making an effort to broaden our understanding of what students have been through in their short lives, and how these “preexisting conditions” have affected their personalities, and what help they need from us with that bigger picture in mind. And teachers above all else should practice an enhanced level of empathy and sometimes tolerance because you never know what others have gone through. That said, I know that teachers share info about students, and that can lead to gossip, but the other extreme of not exchanging information due to hyper application of FERPA is just as harmful. I have been in schools that were extreme, and no student info was given to me as a sub, and others where their whole file was entrusted to me so I could make informed decisions. As teachers, our job is to teach, but also to direct the whole student. To help them build the foundation for a successful life. They cant build anything sometimes, if there is too much crap piled up on the jobsite, we need to use every tool in our toolbox to help our students to "get there". This can be a very powerful tool, unless the education beaurcracy screws it up into a hopeless mess, (which they are prone to do).

https://dese.mo.gov/traumainformed

Last edited by whd507; 05-21-2018 at 06:02 AM.. Reason: add hyperlink to DESE
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