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Why Trauma-Informed Professional Development Is Necessary for All Educators

In partnership with our friends at SHARE professional learning.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines trauma as a widespread health problem that “occurs as a result of violence, traumatic experiences abuse, neglect, loss, disaster, war and other emotionally harmful experiences.” Traumatic circumstances can occur singly as an acute event or occur repeatedly as with situations of neglect and abuse. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, working in coordination with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, more than 38% of children in each state have suffered a traumatic event ranging from the death of a parent to living with someone with substance addiction. These children then show up in the classroom, armed with their backpacks and pencils, as well as their fears and chronic – some experts say ‘toxic’ – stress. For this reason, educators nationwide must begin to foster trauma-sensitive classrooms where the diverse needs of children can be met with empathy and support. This is where trauma-informed professional development can come to the rescue.

What Causes Trauma?

Trauma can take a wide range of forms. As mentioned, it can stem from abuse and neglect at home, but it can also result from an assault outside of the home. According to recent statistics, four out of ten students report they’ve been the victim of an assault. One in four children say they’ve been the victim of a robbery or vandalism. Witnessing violence or other traumatic events like natural disasters can be traumatic for children.

Causes of Trauma

Student Trauma

Two thirds
More than two-thirds of children report at least one traumatic event before their 16th birthday
9 times
Each year, the number of youth requiring hospital treatment for physical assault-related injuries would fill every seat in 9 stadiums
Group of 4
1 in 4 high school students have been in at least one physical fight
Group of 5
1 in 5 high school students report being bullied; 1 in 6 cyberbullied
19 percent
19% of injured and 12% of physically ill youth have Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
54 percent
More than half (54%) of U.S. families have been affected by some type of disaster

The Trauma-Informed Approach

To better address trauma-related issues, SAMHSA has developed a framework to help trauma survivors, families, and communities understand the connections between suffered trauma and behavioral health. With the trauma-informed approach, educators learn how to identify signs of trauma as well as how to foster an environment that does not re-trigger traumatic feelings and impede healing and recovery. For classrooms to embrace this approach, administrations are tasked to support the initiative, including making provisions for class training.

The Trauma-Informed Approach

6 Key Elements of a Trauma-Informed Approach

SAMHSA outlines six key elements of a trauma-informed approach that include:

Safety
Safety
Trustworthiness and Transparency
Trustworthiness and Transparency
Peer Support
Peer Support
Collaboration
Collaboration
Empowerment, Voice, and Choice
Empowerment, Voice, and Choice
Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues
Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues
Benefits of the Trauma-Informed Approach

Benefits of the Trauma-Informed Approach

In classrooms that embrace a trauma-informed approach to learning, there are some key benefits for the students as well as the instructor. All students, those suffering from trauma and those who are not, benefit from a supportive environment that emphasizes empowerment, trust, safety, etc. Students who are coping with traumatic events benefit from instructors who are tuned into their needs and trained to foster collaboration. This includes looping in professional mental health providers, such as counselors, when necessary to enhance support for students who may be struggling. Teachers benefit from this collaboration. Plus, additional training helps them better manage traumatized kids, helping children avoid negative behaviors in favor of healthier coping methods.

Professional Development for a Trauma-Informed Classroom

To develop a trauma-informed classroom, teachers need training. Both schools and individual teachers need to consider the many benefits of professional development in this field. For current teachers, continuing education that foster trauma-informed learning environments can help. With the right training and support, teachers can expect to be able to:

  • Learn to identify traumatic behaviors in students
  • Create a consistent classroom structure
  • Teach students self-care and learn self-resilience strategies for educators
  • Design a learning environment that benefits all students, including those who have experienced trauma

Online education modalities for teachers are becoming more prevalent. School districts that are contemplating this type of professional development must consider elements such as program cost, schedule, and expert legitimacy. While a conference may provide excellent introductory material on the topic for educators, it’s most likely online coursework that will give districts the building blocks they need to create a comprehensive program for their schools.

Professional Development

Online courses devoted to the topic and multi-session programs are good examples of post-conference approaches to trauma-informed professional development. There are platforms and resources available today to help teachers and schools develop trauma-informed classrooms. One of those platforms is SHARE professional learning.

Designed For Teachers

SHARE is an online learning platform that:

  • Enables teachers to discover trauma's effects on the body and brain, manage stress in the classroom, and cultivate resilience in themselves, their students, and the community
  • Guides the creation of learning activities and materials to use in the classroom
  • Connects educators with other teachers concerned about trauma and resilience in education

The Learning Experience

Course Overview

Course Overview

Course Module

Course Module

Course Discussion

Course Discussion

Course Assignment

Course Assignment

Easy Management For Administrators

SHARE makes implementation fast and easy. From system access to all the whys and hows, their team handles all the details.

Customizations

Custom landing page for each district partner

Web-based solutions

Completely web-based solution

Fast enrollment process

Fast and easy enrollment process—teachers can begin working immediately

Certificates

Certificates of completion featuring teacher time on task

Reporting

Reporting engine for district HR / PD stakeholders

Try SHARE for Free
(and receive a Certificate of Completion)

Want to try SHARE for free? “Teaching Through the Coronavirus Pandemic” is a free, 90-minute self-paced course that discusses the stress caused by responses to COVID-19, such as quarantine and social distancing, and provides strategies to help teachers and their students remain strong during the pandemic.

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