Trauma Sensitive Schools

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A New Perspective on Student Behaviors and Learning

The Department of Public Instruction Trauma Sensitive Schools (TSS) training initiative began in 2015. The TSS training was made possible through collaboration with Mid-Dakota Education Cooperative (MDEC) and was developed by Heather Simonich, MA, LPC.
Educators play a crucial role in mitigating both the short and long term effects of trauma. Over 6.600 ND educators have trained in, A New Perspective on Student Behaviors and Learning. Awareness of trauma and trauma informed practice is the first step for our schools and educators. TSS training should motivate and guide schools to examine and transform their policy/practice, educational strategies, professional development, and community relationships. The result of this intentional strategic work should be an environment and community that is safe, caring, and respectful and where all children can learn to their capacity.

There are five key modules, which range from creating an awareness of trauma and its effects on learning to exploring trauma informed practices.  The modules are as follows:

Module 1:  Introduction to Childhood Trauma
Designed to provide overview of the effects of childhood trauma and it impacts on student behavior and learning

Module 2:  Neurobiology of Trauma and Resilience
Provides basic overview of how trauma impacts brain development and learning highlighting the ACE Study

Module 3:  Trauma Sensitive Strategies Part 1
Provides insight into how to increase psychological safety, rationale for trauma screening, and focusing on strengths

Module 4:  Trauma Sensitive Strategies Part 2
 Highlights enhancing coping skills, engaging families and making mental health referrals

Module 5:  Taking Care of You and the Flexible Framework
Provides an understanding of secondary traumatic stress and strategies for supporting staff

Trauma Sensitive School (TSS) training is designed to be provided over three, 2-hour professional development sessions. However, they can be tailored to fit the varying duration of professional development sessions. For example, it is possible to deliver this curriculum in two, 3-hour professional development sessions, or six, 1-hour sessions. It is often necessary to extend the team to allow for dialogue among staff while they discuss the many topics.

A short video and training information can be found here or contact your Regional Education Association to schedule Trauma Sensitive Schools training for staff in your school.


Understanding Childhood Trauma

Helping Traumatized Children Learn Volume 1

Trauma Sensitive Schools Checklist

Trauma Sensitive Schools Training Package - Nat Center on Safe & Supportive Learning

Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators - The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Why Schools Need to be Trauma Informed Article

Trauma-Informed Classrooms