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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.

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 student. This is part 3 of a series on working with students exposed to trauma.  It might be helpful to read part 1 and part 2 as well.

Sound Discipline will also be offering a 3 hour workshop focusing on additional strategies for working with students exposed to trauma on March 15th. You can register here.

Regulation of moods, emotions and behavior is a challenge for students exposed to trauma. Because this can seem out of proportion to what is happening in the environment, responsible adults often misinterpret the behavior to be "on purpose" or the result of a "bad choice."  True, the behavior can be aggravating, hurtful and disruptive. It is usually, however, the result of an inability to self regulate in the context of a brain that is functioning under a perception of threat instead of out of an intention to be "a problem."

How then can we use these "mistakes" as opportunities to teach, or opportunities for children to learn?  How can we help classmates who are understandably confused by the student's unpredictable behavior? 

Paying attention to routines, safety and our own emotional regulation are extremely helpful first steps. Teaching self regulation and a bit about how the brain works helps students begin to self manage.  Understanding the "how" of self regulation combined with practice helps students change their behaviors from the inside instead of adding one more task to fail at.

Self regulation from the inside out:

We are "wired" for safety. It makes sense that our bodies put survival first.  We "learn" to watch out for danger - but some times the "rules" that our brains create to be safe don't serve us well. Understanding a little about how the brain works can help students understand themselves and each other.

Teach some basic brain information. Daniel Siegel has a short and simple YouTube video that you can watch and then model for your class - or even watch with your class.  Help them understand that we all "flip our lids" at times.  Help them begin to study and notice how their bodies give them "warning signs" that they are feeling upset and about to do something they might not be happy about later. More on the brain.

Notice triggers. Invite your students to begin to notice what kinds of things trigger them.  Is it when they are hungry?  Tired?  Disappointed? Frightened? They can be their own scientists.

Teach feeling words.  When students can name their feelings they can often tame their responses.  Making meaning of the environment using language changes how brains process what is going on and allows space for new responses and reactions.

Model and talk about "re-gathering." Your class can generate a list of different things that students use to find their "thinking brain" again.  Included on that list will be things like: 
- Long slow deep breaths.  Younger children may need to practice this with a feather in front of their nose so that they can see the air movement, or lying down on their backs with a small object on their upper abdomen.
- Quietly walking to the back of the room for some time in your "re-gathering" spot.  Some classrooms call this student designed place of comfort the "alone zone" or "Hawaii" or "the space place."
- When you are working on re-gathering yourself let your students know and ask them to join you and help the whole room work together. "I'm noticing that I'm getting a little riled up.  I don't want to flip my lid. Can you help me out by joining me in 4 slow deep breaths so we can all start over?"

Mirror neurons. Does it seem like when your students go crazy they bring you with them?  It isn't your imagination.  We are wired to respond the way we see others responding.  The gift in that is that when you can stay self regulated, then your students can learn to join you.  Mirror neurons are pretty amazing.  Check them out!

Respond to inappropriate behavior calmly and consistently.  You have to respond to behavior that isn't safe.  Do your best to do it in a manner that is calm, connecting and consistent.  Remember that the student
(with a flipped lid) cannot learn much at the moment  so save the teaching for later. The more you can stay connected to your calm, clear and firm self, the more quickly the sense of safety can be re-established for all involved.

Take care of yourself. You experience vicarious trauma when working with others who have been traumatized.  Here are some suggestions from a previous newsletter.

Next week: Part 4 Some of what we know about "vicarious" 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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