082019 Trauma Sensitive
Student Well-Being Series

Building a Trauma-Sensitive School

Traumatic experiences like a natural disaster and the ongoing stress of living with an abusive or drug-addicted parent exact a high price on both children and schools. Students who experience traumatic stress perform worse academically and cognitively, and their teachers report that they behave worse in the classroom. And teachers themselves can experience secondhand stress as they struggle to deal with their students’ intense emotional and learning needs. Now a growing number of regular schools are adopting trauma-sensitive practices to better serve distressed students. What does a trauma-informed school look like in practice? And how can schools gear up to provide it?

Veronica Lyon, a math teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Clarkston, Wash., comforts one of her 7th graders after a lesson in fractions. Lyon interweaves social-emotional lessons and mathematics to support distressed students.
Veronica Lyon, a math teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Clarkston, Wash., comforts one of her 7th graders after a lesson in fractions. Lyon interweaves social-emotional lessons and mathematics to support distressed students.
Pete Caster for Education Week
Professional Development How Caring for Students in Distress Can Take a Steep Toll
Schools using trauma-sensitive approaches are becoming more mindful of—and guarding against—the emotional burnout of teachers.
Sarah D. Sparks, September 17, 2019
9 min read
New York Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner speaks at a meeting on the lawsuit in New York City that argues schools failed to adequately respond to trauma.
New York Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner speaks at a meeting on the lawsuit in New York City that argues schools failed to adequately respond to trauma.
Photo courtesy of Legal Services NYC
Special Education Do Distressed Students Have a Right to Trauma-Sensitive Schooling?
Three ongoing lawsuits make the case that schools have a responsibility to consider and mitigate the effects of students' personal traumas on their learning.
Sarah D. Sparks, September 3, 2019
9 min read
First grader Conner MacElhiney slaps the color block that represents his mood during physical education class at Bethlehem Elementary School in New Hampshire. The school is leading the way in a statewide experiment to build schools that are more supportive of students dealing with trauma.
First grader Conner MacElhiney slaps the color block that represents his mood during physical education class at Bethlehem Elementary School in New Hampshire. The school is leading the way in a statewide experiment to build schools that are more supportive of students dealing with trauma.
Sarah Rice for Education Week
School & District Management 'Nobody Learns It in a Day': Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools
With little research to guide them and a growing sense of urgency, schools are working to create learning environments for students in stress. Read what they're doing.
Sarah D. Sparks, August 20, 2019
10 min read
A scene from an online simulation created to provide a crash course for Houston teachers on recognizing the emotional aftereffects of disasters in students and responding to them with sensitivity.
A scene from an online simulation created to provide a crash course for Houston teachers on recognizing the emotional aftereffects of disasters in students and responding to them with sensitivity.
Kognito
School Climate & Safety Online Simulation Preps Schools for Emotional Toll of Disasters
In disaster-ridden Houston, an online simulation trains teachers to recognize and respond to signs of trauma in students.
Sarah D. Sparks, August 20, 2019
4 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
Getty/Getty
Special Education Some FAQs for Educators on Children's Trauma
When experts talk about trauma, they mean something more than the low-level stressors children experience from watching a scary movie or fighting with a friend.
Sarah D. Sparks, August 20, 2019
4 min read

Coverage of whole-child approaches to learning is supported in part by a grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, at www.chanzuckerberg.com. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.