The pandemic and everything that has followed has upended many things people took for granted. Many people and communities have suffered great trauma because of this. To effectively work with students who have undergone trauma, educators need to recognize it and make provisions for dealing with it.
During difficult times, the basics can be invaluable. For Jackson, the basics include providing consistency.
“Studies about best practices for trauma indicate that consistency and relationships matter,” Jackson said.
“Having those adults that kids can go to, and maintaining the patterns for kids is important.” Something as minor as keeping a gym class every Thursday can be helpful.
While this past year has demanded adjustments, the need to continue and offer consistency where possible is valuable.
To provide for students who have been traumatized, schools/districts need to take stock of what systems they have in place and remove critical barriers that make it hard for kids to access these systems.
“We ask ourselves ‘what are the barriers students face to access future plans and goals that they have been developing since early elementary level,’” Barbazon said.
She noted many of the students in her district live in poverty, and their parents have little education.
To help students, they take a “whole child” approach which includes considering families and what might be creating access issues for them.
“You can be doing great future planning work with students in the classroom, but are you looking at data to see what matriculation looks like,” Barbzaon asked.
“Are students following their articulated post-secondary plans or are there barriers due to trauma holding them back? “
Once those barriers are identified, the goal is to provide ways around them.
Barbazon suggested that schools and districts should consider what they can put in place to support students.
One answer may be onsite grief counseling.
“Ultimately, we need to make sure we have some things in place to address their traumas that impact access to their post-secondary plans,” she stressed.