Trauma-informed Practices: Takeaways from Our Recent Webinar

If you’ve been following our blog posts for the last few weeks, we hope you’re feeling more comfortable with identifying trauma and strategizing ways to create a more supportive environment for all learners. But we know you’re always looking for additional tools and lessons to bring trauma-informed practices to life in your classroom and school. Recently, members of ACT’s research and curriculum development team partnered with an inspiring practitioner from Illinois for a webinar to do just that.

We explored how kids are feeling today and discussed tried & true trauma-informed educational tools and strategies. You can watch the webinar on-demand anytime for the full session.

If you’re looking for the highlights, we’ve summarized takeaways for you here.

Students are struggling, but SEL can help

We know 2020 has presented many challenges for students, families, teachers, and all of us. In a recent study of 600+ students, ACT found that young people are feeling the effects of a year filled with unknowns, leading to struggles with sleeping and increased feelings of anxiety. But we found that students who have a higher understanding of SEL concepts had more effective strategies to deal with these challenges. For example, students who displayed higher levels of Social Connection and Getting Along with Others were more likely to initiate phone or video calls with others. This makes the everyday use of SEL tools and strategies, as well as trauma-informed practices, even more important during this time.

Trauma-informed educational practices are just that, practices.

There are a lot of great tools and activities available to guide you in creating a learning environment that supports all students, whether they have experienced trauma or not. It can be overwhelming knowing where to begin, and you may feel like you’re never going to be able to remember all the strategies you’ve learned. But the fact that these are practices, means we have to do just that: practice. Maybe you tried a peace corner, and it didn’t quite work for one group of students but was successful for another group of students. Find what works for you and your students and grow from there! Your willingness to continue to practice these exercises with students builds safety and trust and goes a long way to creating a circle of care.

Starting with self is necessary

It’s so much easier said than done, but we all know we need to take care of ourselves to be effective in our professional roles and fulfilled in our lives. Make time for self-care each day, both during work and at home, even if you feel you’ve only got a few moments to spare. Practice mindful stretching, do some deep breathing exercises with your students, or indulge in a good “brain food.” Self-care is essential to buffer from the effects of vicarious (secondary) trauma and compassion fatigue.

Collaborate with your community

You aren’t in this alone! Lean on your community to help create circles of care around your students. Some school districts are partnering with community mental health therapists to do onsite individual or group counseling for students who need additional support. Do you have social service agencies and other non-profits in your community that can help when a need arises for a family (ex: childcare centers, food banks, utility-assistance programs, legal assistance)? Consider creating a list of all resources to have available at each school in your district.

In addition to viewing the webinar, you can also find links to resources and activities that can be used in your classrooms and schools today (no matter if you’re teaching in-person, online, or a hybrid). And as always, you can reach out to us for additional help at learning@act.org.