The following blog was shared on acesconnection.com. The author talks frankly about the "messiness" of trauma informed and resilience building practices. I believe this article captures the reality of our work here at Tigard High School. I hope you enjoy it.
Trauma-Informed is Messy Business… . by Tany Fritz
Wyatt Cenac, American comedian, actor, producer and Emmy Award winning writer, and his team were on campus last week filming for part of a series he is hosting and producing about mental health in education. He came to Oregon due to its low national mental health rankings for teens. Their research on what Oregon was doing to support teenage students brought them to Tigard High and the TI Pilot. Cenac wanted to know what Trauma Informed Care looked like in a school. Be sure to tune into the show when it airs in the Spring of 2019.
Stress Awareness and Special EducationChristy Goodell, special education learning specialist uses TI concepts to support her students receiving special education services. Christy noticed that many of her students had trouble following the stress continuum scale used at Tigard. She found that they had trouble distinguishing between even being alert and being terrified. She believes that if her students can not tell where they are on a stress continuum that it is unlikely they will have the ability to cope with each state. Christy is now using pulse oximeters to help students tie together how they are feeling with how their heart rate changes. She believes that if her students can begin to understand their stress and its impact on their body, they can begin to cope with it. She hopes her students learn how to reduce their stress and know when to ask for help when they find themselves unable to manage their stress. Stress can play a big role in many of the lives of teenage students receiving special education services which can often get in the way of accessing their cortex, where learning occurs.
Self-Regulation and Data Analysis in MathNicole Barker, math teacher, teaches students to use regulation strategies and incorporates it into her math lessons. Nicole and Amanda Davila, special education learning specialist, began an action research project last semester teaching a broad array of self-regulation skills to students. This included the incorporation of sensory techniques such as touch (fidgets, clay etc.), smell (diffusers), sound (classical music, etc.) and taste (Mints) along with movement and breathing exercises. Nicole and Amanda's students used the data collected to find the standard deviation and their baseline range of heart rate and perceived stress levels. Initial results from this action research is that heart rate and perceived stress level are reduced just after a regulatory exercises for all students as a whole. Nicole and Amanda's action research project is now being expanded into Kristi Lattimer's IB English class, Nicole's Algebra class and possibly Keri Butler's on track class.
Should Schools Support Students With Their Mental Health?Our job is to get to the cortex of students where reasoning, problem solving and learning occur. Mental health issues impede access to the cortex and this impacts a students ability to learn. But there is a more compelling reason why mental health support for students is important.
During my time here managing the Trauma Informed Pilot at Tigard High School, I have had numerous conversations with colleagues who have shared with me the struggles students have shared with them. I have had numerous conversations with students who have shared how they have suffered with mental health issues in silence not knowing where to turn. The most compelling reason to provide mental health support to our students is simply because it is the right thing to do.
Karen Gross shares in her article "Getting Ready for School: Some Strategies for a Successful Start" some practical things that educators can do to get their students learning ready. One thing to keep in mind is that we generally do not know whether a student's summer experience was good or bad. It's important to recognize that not everyone is going to want to talk about it. It's potentially retraumatizing. Karen does believe that educators can share their summer experience especially if it gives students a chance to get to know who their teacher is as a person. She also suggests offering other safe opportunities for students to get to know their peers. And if you are going to give an assignment, why not make it something that all students can do well on and that begins to foster creativity? Please see the entire article here.
by Alfonso Ramirez, Tigard High School Trauma Informed Specialist Coordinator
60 minutes will air a story this Sunday at 7pm about Trauma Informed Care that Oprah Winfrey calls a "game changer."
Featured will be Dr. Bruce Perry who wrote The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog. Some footage was taken during Bruce Perry's Neurosequential Model in Education (NME) Bootcamp that some of your colleagues attended.
Here is an excerpt from the CBS morning show of Oprah promoting the upcoming show.
When Orpah was asked how she turned out so well even despite the abuse and adversity she suffered she stated,
"For me, it was school, I found my refuge in school, I found my place in school, from teachers. Everyone needs someone growing up that says 'I believe in you, you're OK.' "
What Do Asthma, Heart Disease And Cancer Have In Common? Maybe Childhood Trauma - by Corey Tuner, NPR
By Alfonso Ramirez, Tigard High School Trauma Informed Specialist Coordinator
Here is an excellent article that describes the prevalence and impact of childhood adversity on health related outcomes and learning. A great read for parents, teachers and anyone who interacts with children. Click on the link at the bottom of the page for the full article.
Here's an excerpt: "When kids are exposed to very high levels of chronic stress or adversity — or really intense and scary experiences — it actually changes the way their brains and bodies are wired. And that can lead to changes in brain development, changes in the development of the immune system, our hormonal systems, and even all the way down to the way our DNA is read and transcribed. And that is what can lead to this condition that's now known as toxic stress — and put folks at an increased risk of lifelong health problems."
Corey Tuner interviews Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and although she provides examples of what school can do to help students with trauma, she also makes a significant point that schools cannot shoulder the burden alone. Schools should be supported and work together with other community partners to combat this public health crisis.
Click here to access the article What Do Asthma, Heart Disease And Cancer Have In Common? Maybe Childhood Trauma
By Alfonso Ramirez, Tigard High School Trauma Informed Specialist Coordinator
Smart phones are incredible tools and can be used for many educational purposes, however, they can cause harm if not used with caution. At the bottom of this page is a link for parents and families to learn how to teach young people to use their phones intentionally in a healthy way.
From the article: "The teen brain isn’t done forming and the part of the brain that manages impulse control, empathy, judgment, and the ability to plan ahead are not fully developed. This means you’re more likely to see disturbing online content or have troubling encounters; it means you’re more likely to become distracted from the important tasks at hand; it means you’re more likely to become addicted to your device than adults. When you are addicted, you will experience distraction, fatigue, or irritability when you’re not on your phone. Teens who excessively use their phone are more prone to disrupted sleep, restlessness, stress and fatigue."
Click here to access the article Tether Yourself.
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By Alfonso Ramirez, Tigard High School Trauma Informed Specialist
Representatives from Tigard High School have began study in NME (Neurosequential Model in Education) concepts and training provided by the Child Trauma Academy. This work is largely developed by Dr. Bruce D. Perry.
This work will help Tigard High School understand how trauma and chronic stress impact learning and what can be done to support students and families.
The team includes Mr. Ramírez, Trauma Informed Specialist Coordinator; Mrs. Stover, Counselor; Mrs. Davila, Learning Specialist; Mrs. Latimer, English and Avid Teacher; Mrs. Resnick, Spanish Teacher and Technology Liaison; Mrs. Barker, Math Teacher; Mr. Van Fleet, Principal; Mr. Davila, Associate Principal; Mr. Scher, Dean of Students
For more information on NME and how you can participate in training or for the bio of Dr. Perry, please see the links below.
Neurosequential Model in Education - Child Trauma Academy
Dr. Bruce Perry