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Upcoming Events

Working with students exposed to trauma
Tuesday March 15,  4 – 7 PM 
2100 Building           
Cost: $20.  CEU’s available for extra fee.

Positive Discipline in the Classroom - 5 week classes

Time: 4 – 7 PM on Thursdays.            Cost: $195 + registration fee.  CEU’s or Credit available for small additional fee.

Bothell: February17, March 3, 10, 17, 24  Facilitator: Melanie Miller  Register

Seattle: January March 17, 24, 31, April 7, 14.  Facilitator: Stacy Lappin.  Register

Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way

Kirkland:                                              March 10 (evening) 11th & 12th (all day)  Facilitator: Melanie Miller  Register

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Hello Reader,

Welcome to Sound Discipline 

We provide short articles, ideas and practices that you can put to practical use in your classroom. We hear lots of success stories. They inspire us. We would like to hear more and share them so that you can learn from them too.

Please send us your stories!

Trauma is often a hidden visitor in your classroom silently impacting students in ways that are often confusing and challenging - for you and your students. Children who have experienced acute or chronic stress in their lives can behave in ways that are neither socially nor academically on target. This is part two of a series on the impact of trauma on student behavior and strategies for supporting students exposed to trauma.  Part 1 invited you to develop a "trauma GPS;"  to begin to consider the brain changes caused by trauma as the reason for some of the perplexing, demanding, aggressive or unpredictable behavior you witness and experience. Helping Traumatized Children Learn (page 33) quotes Mark Katz from his book On Playing a Poor Hand Well suggesting that adult response to a child's behavior might change if the reasons for the behavior were understood.

"Not realizing that children exposed to inescapable, overwhelming stress may act out their pain, that they may misbehave, not listen to us, or seek our attention in all the wrong ways, can lead us to punish these children for their misbehavior.  The behavior is so willful, so intentional.  She controlled herself yesterday, she can control herself today. If we only knew what happened last night, or this morning before she got to school, we would be shielding the same child we're now reprimanding"

You can't really "shield" a student, but you can create a classroom that offers opportunities for the student exposed to trauma can maximize his or her learning. Here we'll begin to take first steps toward useful strategies for students who have experienced trauma (and will continue these in future articles).

First steps:

See the whole child  Sometimes misbehavior can be so challenging that it is hard to see the student's strong points behind the chaos. She might be sensitive, caring for others.  Or perhaps hidden behind that anger is a strong sense of justice or fairness. 

Help the student see his/her own strengths.  Children exposed to trauma often carry a sense of shame. They carry with them the belief, "I am a mistake" (or "I am bad") instead of "I made a mistake." Offering the student a view of his or her own strength can be a starting place for a new belief. "I know that when you are feeling good you are a very generous person." "I know it bugs you when people take things because you have a strong sense of justice."

Regulate your own emotion. Students exposed to trauma have high levels of stress hormones.  They don't have the reserve to be able to self regulate well when stresses increase in their environment.  You can be emotionally honest with out "blowing your top."

Pay attention to the need for safety and predictability. Students exposed to trauma have "learned" to be highly vigilant for their own survival. This limits a student's ability to take risks and to learn.  Teachers can help convey a sense of safety by staying calm and predictable.  Things like posting the schedule for the day, giving plenty of warning for any change in routine, and "thinking out loud" about problem solving can be helpful. If you anticipate a stressful event (a class party for example) take a quiet moment to anticipate and problem solve privately with the student using the student's strengths. 

Be a resilience builder. The one thing that resilient students have in common is a relationship with another person who gives them the sense that they matter.  How can you begin to invite your student to believe that he or she matters to you? Hint: For students exposed to trauma this will be built slowly and depend more on what you do and how you act than what you say.

Next week: Part 3 More strategies for working with children exposed to trauma.

Resources: If you are interested in more information on trauma here are some options: Helping Traumatized Children Learn is a downloadable report (free) with lots of resources.
Seattle Schools has a document called The Heart of Learning and Teaching: Compassion, Resiliency and Academic Success that also addresses the results of being exposed to trauma.
Teachers' Strategies Guide for Working with Children Exposed to Trauma is a manual published by Framingham Public Schools (but a bit hard to get)
Sound Discipline will be offering a 3 hour hands-on workshop to give background and strategies for working with students exposed to trauma on March 15th (4-7 PM).  Registration







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