Trauma-Informed Care, The Whole-Brain Child and Staff Development

Trauma-informed care and understanding the childhood brain and how it matures are fairly new areas of study for teachers.  Yet, to connect as many children as possible to school, trauma-informed care is becoming a necessary approach in K-12 education.

  1. Research has shown that trauma, such as drug or alcohol exposure, abuse and neglect, experienced in-utero through early childhood affects the brain.  We know that children change fundamentally and biologically as the result of trauma.  And we know that these changes affect behavior.
  2. Therefore, we try to shift attitudes as an essential first step.  Changing “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” allows understanding and opens the door to healing.
  3. The Whole-Brain Child book by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson provides a dozen strategies for nurturing a child’s developing mind.  It is an excellent resource for professional development for teachers and parents on how to reach and teach the child who has experienced trauma.

Incorporate this book into professional development by having staff work in small teams and sign up to research and present on one of the twelve strategies included in the book.  Teams should read their assigned strategy and be prepared with ideas of how they can implement the strategy with the population of students they serve.  Teams should employ visuals, skits or other entertaining means when presenting their strategy to the other teams, or faculty.  Once the presentations are completed, the visuals will be on display in a prominent location within the school.  Consider videotaping the presentations so they can be viewed by new staff.