It will take extra efforts on the part of teachers and principals to help children who are acting out in District #150 schools. Unfortunately, there are so many children acting out, there is not enough time in the day to teach the children who are behaving and ready to learn. It is imperative that District #150's Board and Administration put the necessary supports in place to assist the teachers and principals who are in the trenches dealing with Peoria's traumatized children.
School Board member, Rick Cloyd has started the conversation, let's see where it goes from here.
Training educators to identify the symptoms of traumatized children is a crucial starting point in developing a comprehensive school-wide approach to helping traumatized children learn. At a minimum, a training curriculum should:
Help teachers understand that traumatized children may not be able to express their suffering in ways adults can understand.
Lacking the words to communicate their pain, these children may express feelings of vulnerability by “acting out,” becoming aggressive, or feigning disinterest in academic success because they believe they can’t succeed. Teachers must be helped to understand that the traumatic symptoms most detrimental to children’s educational experiences often do not originate in willful defiance, but in their feelings of vulnerability. With this insight, school personnel are far less likely to re-traumatize children with surface-oriented punishments, such as suspension and expulsion, “dumbed-down curriculums,” and demeaning comments (“You’re just not trying.”).
This is critical to ensure that the experiences of maltreatment do not become the prominent feature of any child’s identity.
Teach children how to calm themselves and modulate their emotions.
When children bring traumatic memories with them to school, any event (a look, the color of someone’s hair) that reminds them of their trauma can trigger behaviors that may not be appropriate in the classroom. This is a classic symptom of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Mental health professionals must help educators develop techniques for calming children and helping them to modulate their emotional response to the classroom environment, and thus, their behavior in it.
Help traumatized children learn to influence what “happens” to them. Children who come from chaotic homes often fail to learn basic notions of cause and effect.
Prepare teachers to work with parents victimized by violence.
It is critical that teacher training help teachers understand the cycle of violence and its effects on adults as well as child victims. This information may enable teachers to better partner with parents who may also be victims of violence.
Policies must be developed that respond to traumatized children’s needs for predictability, sensitivity, and clear expectations. A predictable daily routine can contribute greatly to a child’s feeling of safety in the school setting. Schools must also create consistent individualized response systems so that each child in the school knows how adults will respond to their behavior whether they are in homeroom or art class.
If, for example, a rule exists in a child’s primary classroom that he/she can take a three-minute “breather” when frustrated, and the same rule exists in art class, the child can use the same coping strategies throughout the day. The child can thus assume greater responsibility for regulating his/her own behavior, which promotes a sense of self-control and feelings of safety.
When feeling stressed and near “losing control,” the consistency of rules enables the child to handle his/her emotions more constructively by at least providing a stable, predictable environment in which they can manage their inner controls. Where the expectations of traumatized children are clearly established, they are better able to grasp the difference between their life at school and life in the unpredictable and uncontrollable world in which they were traumatized. The end result is that the child has more energy and attention for important academic tasks and far greater likelihood of behavioral and academic success in mainstream classes. Source