Presenter Information

Heather Roesinger, MS.Ed., Chelsea Williams, MS.Ed., Dr. Tammy L. Hughes, Ph.D., ABPP

Abstract

Trauma is defined as a response to a negative event that includes both an emotional and physiological component. Two thirds of children experience some form of a traumatic event by the age of 16 (Cavanaugh, 2016). Many youth with disabilities, particularly emotional and behavioral, have experienced trauma and show visible signs of difficulty in the classroom (Cavanaugh, 2016). Trauma-informed schools take a strengths-based approach and focus on building safe, positive environments and relationships. Research has provided evidence that a trauma-informed approach can be instrumental in supporting positive outcomes of children exposed to trauma, but school staff feel ill-equipped to support these students (Maring & Koblinsky, 2013). Thus, professional development within this area is necessary and beneficial.

Four professional development trainings were delivered to school staff working with at-risk students to address: a) the impact of trauma on student learning, b) requirements to build positive student-faculty relationships, c) elements needed for classrooms to be characterized by feelings of safety, and d) how to support staff burnout and compassion fatigue. The Attitudes Related to Trauma Informed Care (ARTIC) and Professional Quality of Life Scale (PROQOL) were used to measure staff’s attitudes about trauma-informed instruction. The current study discusses the results of these measures as well as recommendations for school teams.

Keywords: childhood trauma, trauma-informed, professional development, special education, alternative education

School

School of Education

Advisor

Dr. Tammy L. Hughes, Ph.D., ABPP

Submission Type

Paper

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Trauma-Informed Teaching: Professional Development for School Staff

Trauma is defined as a response to a negative event that includes both an emotional and physiological component. Two thirds of children experience some form of a traumatic event by the age of 16 (Cavanaugh, 2016). Many youth with disabilities, particularly emotional and behavioral, have experienced trauma and show visible signs of difficulty in the classroom (Cavanaugh, 2016). Trauma-informed schools take a strengths-based approach and focus on building safe, positive environments and relationships. Research has provided evidence that a trauma-informed approach can be instrumental in supporting positive outcomes of children exposed to trauma, but school staff feel ill-equipped to support these students (Maring & Koblinsky, 2013). Thus, professional development within this area is necessary and beneficial.

Four professional development trainings were delivered to school staff working with at-risk students to address: a) the impact of trauma on student learning, b) requirements to build positive student-faculty relationships, c) elements needed for classrooms to be characterized by feelings of safety, and d) how to support staff burnout and compassion fatigue. The Attitudes Related to Trauma Informed Care (ARTIC) and Professional Quality of Life Scale (PROQOL) were used to measure staff’s attitudes about trauma-informed instruction. The current study discusses the results of these measures as well as recommendations for school teams.

Keywords: childhood trauma, trauma-informed, professional development, special education, alternative education