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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.

How Do We Get There? Becoming a Trauma-Sensitive, Safe and Supportive School

All children can learn in a trauma-sensitive, safe and supportive school because they experience a sense of safety throughout the entire school, allowing them to calm their emotions and behaviors so that they can fully engage in the curriculum and the school community. How do we create trauma-sensitive, safe and supportive schools? This month, we share a ten minute video featuring TLPI’s Training Director, Joe Ristuccia, Ed.M., sharing key information on HOW we create trauma-sensitive, safe and supportive schools.

Creating a trauma-sensitive school is about engaging in a process of change that embraces the uniqueness of each school community. It is not about a list of things we have to do. How we get there starts with what is important to us. What is our urgency as a school and how do we address that? What actions do we take?

The key to creating a safe and supportive school community is identifying our school’s urgencies and then taking small, but effective steps to address them. These actions must be aligned with a set of norms and values that are articulated in TLPI’s Attributes of a trauma-sensitive school:

  • Leadership and staff share an understanding of trauma’s impact on learning and the need for a whole-school approach
  • The school supports all students to feel safe, physically, socially, emotionally and academically
  • The school addresses students’ needs in holistic ways, including their relationships, self-regulation, academic competence, and physical health and well-being
  • The school explicitly connects students to the school community and provides multiple opportunities to practice skills
  • The school embraces teamwork and staff share responsibility for ALL students
  • Leadership and staff anticipate and adapt to the ever-changing needs of students

To read more about the Attributes, please click here

This video is part of a series of training videos that we hope you find helpful. Please watch our videos about the Impact of Trauma on Learning:

To learn more about the process of creating  trauma-sensitive schools please read Helping Traumatized Children Learn, Vol. 2: Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive Schools