This post was published by MAC’s Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, a collaboration with Harvard Law School whose mission is to ensure that children impacted by family violence and other adverse childhood experiences succeed in school. Click here to see the original post.

For many of us, the end of the school year is near. This time of year offers an opportunity for reflection as well as celebrating successes, taking stock of accomplishments, and thinking ahead to what might need to be considered for next year. Many schools have been guided by the use of the trauma-sensitive vision questions to help make sure that the chosen actions move the school closer to becoming trauma-sensitive. In this blog post we share a few ideas along with questions to facilitate reflecting on the year and preparing for continuing the work to become a trauma-sensitive/safe and supportive school into next academic year.

As we have outlined in previous blog posts, the Inquiry Based Process (described fully in Helping Traumatized Children Learn, Vol. 2) helps schools create whole-school trauma-sensitive learning communities through fostering inquiry, offering opportunities for school staff to collectively engage in iterative reflection, questioning, discussion and action planning. Steering Committees are established in the school to lead this work forward. As the school year draws to a close, it may be helpful to reflect on the work that has happened over the course of this year.

A few ideas for areas to explore include:

  • What were our successes this year? Challenges?
  • What priorities did we want to address through our Action Plan? Were we successful in implementing our actions?
  • How are we assessing our progress toward becoming a more trauma-sensitive/safe and supportive school?
  • What does it mean to be trauma-sensitive in our building?
  • What changes are we noticing (e.g. changes in school climate and culture, changes among school staff, changes among students, organizational changes?)
  • What is supporting our work to become trauma sensitive/safe and supportive?
  • Is our work to become trauma-sensitive/safe and supportive diffusing throughout the building? If not, what might be getting in the way of some staff getting on board?
  • Where are we in our work to become a trauma-sensitive/safe and supportive school? Where do we want to be?
  • What else needs to change? Why?
  • What ideas do we have about action steps we want to undertake next year? What new ideas do we have about weaving trauma-sensitive/safe and supportive practices into our school?

One of the benefits of the inquiry-based process is that it provides the structure and space for educators to talk together about their practice and to identify new urgencies to address through taking actions aligned with the norms and values of trauma-sensitivity.  As the school year winds down, engaging in active reflection and taking note of the successes and challenges experienced throughout the process of implementing an action plan can propel the work forward into the new school year.

Sending our best wishes for a safe, relaxing and rejuvenating summer break!