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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.

TLPI Video: Impact of Trauma on Learning Part 3: Relationships

In this post, we are excited to share the third in our three part series of short videos on the impacts of trauma on learning, classroom behavior, and relationships.  Last month, we introduced the first two videos in this series featuring TLPI Training Director, Joel M. Ristuccia, Ed.M., speaking about the impact of trauma on learning, Part 1: Academic Performance and Part 2: Classroom Behavior. This week we share Part 3 in the series, where the impact of trauma on relationships is explored.

As the first few weeks of school are underway across the country, teachers and students are working to get to know one another. One of the most important roles schools can play in the lives of students is helping them to have good relationships with peers and adults. Research indicates that positive student-teacher relationships can help increase academic engagement and performance. But for students impacted by traumatic experiences, forming and maintaining relationships with their peers and with the adults around them can be challenging.  To learn more, please view the video below.

 

Impact of Trauma on Relationships:

Children’s struggles with traumatic stress and their insecure relationships with adults outside of school can adversely affect their relationships with school personnel and with peers. Preoccupied with their physical and psychological safety, children who have experienced traumatic events may be distrustful of adults and/or fellow students and unsure of the security of the school setting in general. They may also suffer delays in the development of age-appropriate social skills. They may not know how to initiate and cultivate healthy interpersonal relationships with their teachers or their peers.

It is important for all students, especially those who have been traumatized, to form meaningful relationships with caring adults. Accomplishing this goal requires a school-wide infrastructure that allows time for positive relationships to develop between students and both academic and non- academic school personnel. To read more about a whole school approach to trauma sensitivity, please click here.

Shared Learning:

Our hope is that these videos are useful in helping  school staff learn together to build a shared understanding of the impacts of trauma.  This shared understanding can help all staff- educators, administrators, counselors, schools nurses, paraprofessional staff, cafeteria staff, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches- recognize that adverse experiences in the lives of students are exceedingly common (please see prevalence video) and that the impacts of these traumatic experiences on child development can play a major role in the learning, behavioral and relationship difficulties faced by many students.

While we may not know whether a student’s difficulties are related to traumatic experience, sharing an understanding of the impact of trauma on student learning, behavior and relationships helps educators avoid misunderstanding the reasons underlying some students’ difficulties in school and helps educators plan effective responses.