Supporting Schools in Their Efforts to Become Trauma Informed: Focus on Training
September 18, 2019
FromAlia Jackson, President, 321insight, and Dr. Rick Robinson, Licensed Psychologist and Contributing Author at 321insight
We at 321insight have the pleasure of working with schools and districts that are on all parts of the continuum in terms of becoming trauma informed/sensitive. The one thing all of our clients have in common is that they understand the value in creating a trauma-informed mindset for all staff and want to move towards building resilience in all students.
In case you aren’t aware, 321insight has developed a comprehensive training toolkit for schools, called Trauma Informed Series. It includes 8-12 minute foundational videos (with discussion guides) that cover the research behind ACEs, building resiliency, regulation strategies, the crisis cycle, and building a trauma-informed classroom and school environment, as well as job-specific guides for all classified staff roles (bus drivers, cafeteria staff, custodial staff, paraeducators, front office staff, school resource officers). It also includes tools to help implement a trauma-informed approach school-wide (discipline guide, classroom checklists, trauma-informed functional behavior assessments, and trauma-informed behavior intervention plans). This toolkit makes it easy for school districts to provide consistent and efficient training to ALL school staff, and allows them to use their local resources to address needs specific to them.
Some of the school districts we work with have already done some training and strategic planning about how to move towards becoming trauma informed, but many are just getting started. Even if your school district hasn’t licensed our Trauma Informed training toolkit, here are some recommendations (based on what has worked for our clients!) for successfully implementing a trauma-informed approach:
Create a core team. This can be a district-level team of people, or it can be school-level teams, or both! The most important thing is that this team is responsible for the implementation of the training and ongoing efforts. Use 321insight’s Trauma-Informed Environment Inventory tool to help the core teams assess what trauma informed practices are in place, assess the level of fidelity, and identify next steps in implementation.
Train the core team. Provide training that helps build the core team members’ own awareness of ACEs and their impacts, as well as training to give them actionable steps to take (and to help others take) to be resilience-oriented. After core team members have attended conferences/trainings that focus on awareness of Trauma Informed Practices, and “readiness” has been assessed by district leadership and school core teams, the 321insight Trauma Informed video series can be used to start the implementation process. They will be happy to have such an easy to use and comprehensive toolkit to utilize in their work.
Train at the school level. EVERY adult who works with kids needs this training! The ACEs, Resilience, Regulation Strategies, and Crisis Cycle videos can serve as the basis of the initial all-staff Foundational Information in-service training. Then, give each staff member information that is specific to their jobs. The core team members can use the Trauma Informed training toolkit to provide training to new staff, review with existing staff, and start implementing new tools. It’s unlikely that every staff member will be able to attend each training, so they can use the 321insight videos and tools even if they just have a few minutes one-on-one with the cafeteria staff or one of the janitors.
Revisit/Discuss/Review/Adjust. One-time trainings are not enough! Just like students, adults learn through practice and repetition. 321insight’s Trauma Informed training toolkit is designed for ongoing use. Core teams or designated staff at the building level can plan their trainings to build and reinforce skills from session to session. Also remember to include this in new staff onboarding efforts. Schools and agencies onboarding new staff have found the Trauma Informed series very helpful in providing new staff with foundational information and the trauma-informed skills sets needed to become a part of their school culture of care.
Using our Trauma Informed training toolkit, schools and districts are able to flexibly train staff to not only be aware of the impacts of trauma on children’s behavior and learning, but are able to implement a trauma-informed approach into daily practice to build a culture of care. Our partner districts who have taken this approach have seen huge reductions in teacher and student absences, reductions in student behavior referrals, and an increase in staff engagement.