Trauma Informed Return to School

What is Trauma Informed Practice?

Trauma Informed Return to School

What is Trauma Informed Practice?

Trauma Informed Practice is a way for schools to allow learning to occur by supporting the brain-based skill deficits that occur when children and youth have experienced trauma.  When they experience on-going stress, their brains can’t take in and later recall information; their executive functioning skills are compromised. Trauma impacted children, and youth have difficulty managing and expressing emotions, understanding causes and effect, and the signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Is it important for everyone to be trauma informed?

If educators and other staff understand that certain behaviours are related to traumatic experiences they can shift the school environment and adjust classroom practices to respond effectively. With some simple strategies, teachers, education assistants, counsellors, and other school staff can support students in creating environments where they can learn.

Is it important for students to be aware of Trauma Informed Practice?

It is helpful for students to be aware of how anxiety and trauma affect their well-being and understand that anxiety is normal and helpful in some situations. Fight, flight or freeze is the physiological response to stress or danger and can be uncomfortable when they don’t know it is happening. If students can sense when they’re escalating in their behaviour or feelings, they can self regulate and use coping strategies that work for them.

What are some symptoms of trauma educators might see upon return to school in light of the COVD-19 pandemic and physical distancing guidelines?

Some symptoms of trauma educators might see upon the students’ return to school include heightened anxiety, difficulty concentrating, poor memory, and intense emotions. Organizing, planning, starting and finishing tasks, understanding different points of view can also be difficult for students who have experienced trauma.

What can you do to support students’ return to school?

It is helpful to understand what type of trauma students may have been exposed to while physical distancing. Educators can support the students’ return to school by identifying signs of trauma, building relationships and restoring school and classroom activities with necessary modifications. Trauma informed practice will include teaching students how to be calm by modelling it and building regulating activities (e.g. deep breathing while hand washing or while others are completing the screening tool) into classroom routines. Remember that behaviour is likely a result of hyper-arousal and requires a thoughtful and supportive response.

 

For more on this topic and implementing a trauma informed approach in your school, check out SST’s Trauma Informed Return to School training sessions:

For (Individual) Elementary School Educators
For (Group) Elementary School Educators

For (Individual) Secondary School Educators
For (Group) Secondary School Educators

For (Individual) Parents
For (Group) Parents

Mindful Hand Washing image

Mindful Hand Washing for Everyone – FREE download

Mindful Handwashing

As schools prepare for the return to physical spaces, it’s important to take the mental health of staff and students into consideration. Fear and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 can lead our students to have different emotional responses and mental health concerns.

The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Download and print this poster for each of your school’s hand washing stations—it can serve as an important reminder to incorporate mindfulness into your hand washing routine throughout the day. Routinely practicing mindfulness can help you remain calm and grounded as you go about your daily tasks.

Click below to download:

Mindful handwashing – Poster

Remote Teaching Workflow using Zoom

Every teacher knows the importance of setting the mood and atmosphere for student engagement within the first moments of a class.  How students are welcomed, the routines we set, and how expectations are communicated all contribute to the potential success of impacting learning. Classroom management and teaching strategies influence opportunities and readiness for learning—this is true in a physical space and is also true in our remote learning spaces.

The following workflow resource outlines some of the steps a teacher should include to create safe remote learning spaces within Zoom

 

Click Here to View/Download Remote Teaching Workflow using Zoom

Ethical Considerations for Remote Counseling

During these unprecedented times, we recognize that changes in working, living and learning environments as well as physical distancing have the potential to create added stress and anxiety for students. It may also be important for some students to access counseling services that they were receiving prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. School counselors have the responsibility to provide connections that would emulate school counseling that would take place in a face-to-face environment. In the past, virtual school counseling was a way to reach a diverse student set. Today, it is to reach all students to ensure safety, emotional and mental well-being.

Click Here to View/Download the Ethical Considerations for Remote Counselling | COVID-19 Resource (Canadian Version)

Click Here to View/Download the Ethical Considerations for Remote Counseling | COVID-19 Resource (USA Version)

Student Virtual Counselling Consent Form

Virtual or online counselling support has the same purpose or intention as counselling sessions that are conducted in person. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak and physical distancing, students and counsellors will connect using online platforms available through third-party providers rather than meeting face to face. Safer Schools Together has created Virtual Counselling Consent Forms for schools to utilize:

Click Here to View/Download the Template for Remote Counselling Consent (13 and under)

Click Here to View/Download the Template for Remote Counselling Consent (14 and older)

Informed Consent in Media Sharing

The most powerful way to respect the rights of a child in how to control their own identity is to ask for permission to document and share online. Empowering this process should focus on student control over how their image is used – in every educational situation. This can be difficult with remote learning and online virtual spaces, especially with students choosing to continue participation in various online spaces. In a respectful manner, students themselves should be asked for consent for the specific instances their image will be used in virtual spaces and secondary sharing environments like social media or online publication.

The Informed Consent in Media Sharing resource educates you on the variables and best practice in Media Sharing. This resource also includes a Consent Document Media Release Form for school staff and administrators regarding collecting parent consent to engage their student(s) in healthy publication and promotion of generated content involving students, educators, and school communities online.

Click Here to View/Download the Informed Consent in Media Sharing Resource

Increasing Safety in a Remote Learning World

In times where physical classrooms may not be an option, connection with your students in a safe remote setting is crucial for their emotional and mental wellbeing. This resource is to help you better understand how to provide a safe digital classroom using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Classroom.

How To Avoid Being Zoom-Bombed

You have probably encountered a Photobomber in your past, right? In today’s virtual world, we’ve seen the evolution of the “Zoombomber,” someone who shows up, uninvited, to a Zoom meeting seeking to disrupt and potentially begin sharing unwelcome content. The New York Institute of Technology gives us a few tips on how to secure our online learning environments:

Click here to view/download How to Avoid Being Zoombombed

Digital Connections with Students During COVID-19

During this pandemic and as we practice physical distancing, it’s more important now than ever that we ensure strong connections with our students. Relationships between adults and students are the most important factor in promoting safe, healthy, and caring school communities. Schools and school districts should continuously be developing innovative strategies to make every student feel valued, respected, safe, wanted and connected during this unprecedented time. For some of our students:

School connectedness is the most important protective factor in a young person’s life.

Click here to view/download the Digital Connections with Students During COVID-19 information package

Raising Digitally Responsible Youth: A Parent’s Guide

*Please Note that an updated Parent’s Guide for Remote Learning Environment Safety will be released in the SST COVID-19 Tool Kit. For questions about resources available, please contact us at info@saferschoolstogether.com 

Technology changes every single day making it nearly impossible to keep up with it all. This Parent’s Guide to Raising Digitally Responsible Youth gives you what you need to know in 2020 to stay in the loop about the most popular applications (apps) and trends. This information will equip you to better understand your child or teen and help you relate to the digital world that they are living in.

Raising Digitally Responsible Youth: A Parent’s Guide is brought to you by Safer Schools Together and the BC Ministry of Education.

Click here to view/download the Raising Digitally Responsible Youth Guide