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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

Seattle:                                                 February 3 (evening) 4th & 5th (all day).  Facilitator: Jody McVittie  Register

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 student. Children who have experienced acute or chronic stress in their lives can behave in ways that are neither socially or academically on target.
Brain scientists are learning more and more about the impacts of trauma and from them we can learn how to do a better job supporting traumatized students at school. 
Trauma is no longer viewed as an "event," but rather it is a physiological response to a stressful event in which the person's ability to cope or make meaning of the event is overwhelmed.  Trauma is often a result of events that happen within a student's home - and it does not discriminate based on class, race or geographic location.  It can also be the result of larger stressful events like war, dangerous immigration, homelessness or constant threats in the community.
The brains of students exposed to these kinds of stressful events respond to school differently than students who have not lived with overwhelming stress.
This first article on students and trauma will focus on how to recognize behaviors that might indicate a history of trauma.  The next article will offer some strategies for working with students exposed to trauma.

Your trauma "GPS":

**Note that just because you see some of these behaviors does not mean the student HAS been exposed to trauma.  But it might be worthwhile to be aware that he or she might be at social or academic risk as they MAY have been exposed to trauma. 

Safety is an issue  Students exposed to trauma can be hypervigilant and sensitive to changes in their environment.  They are likely to do less well with unexpected schedule changes and guest teachers. They can overperceive threat. Building trust is challenging. So much of the brain is active being vigilant that he or she may struggle to focus on school work.

Emotional regulation is a challenge.  Partly because of higher stress hormone levels students exposed to trauma often seem to have "hair triggers" and can respond explosively to problems that seem small from anothers point of view. They also may be quite withdrawn and establishing relationships or any kind of connection may seem difficult.

Regulating behavior can be a challenge. Behavior can be unpredictable and sometimes explosive.  In the moment, the student may seem out of control.  Later he or she may be able to tell you what happened or not.  In this out of control state, the brain's memory function does not work well.  If the student does remember, he or she will often feel shamed and remorseful - which does not help the level of stress hormones in the body or "teach" any kind of lesson.  The student did not make a "choice" to explode.  In the moment of stress that overwhelmed their brain, they also lost the function of their prefrontal cortex.

Usual strategies might not work. So these students often are seen as repeat offenders.  Because their mechanism for causal thinking may be impaired "consequences" are less likely to help the student learn to act differently.

The student's behavior may seem erratic. For part of the day or in certain environments your student may act age appropriately - and in others act 4 or 5 years younger, or a few years older.  This is common in children exposed to trauma.

Every student exposed to trauma responds differently.  Some students have more support and coping skills.  Students are exposed to stressful events at different ages and for different durations.

Next week: Part 2 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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