Stress is a natural part of our daily lives, but prolonged exposure to stress or intense traumatic situations can dramatically affect a student’s ability to learn. Tecumseh Public Schools is pleased to share it is supporting learners by working to become a Trauma Informed district.
“As a district, we recognize the importance of educating the whole child, which includes addressing the social emotional needs of our learners. We have made a commitment to supporting each and every child at each level,” said Dr. Kelly Coffin, superintendent. “In addition, we recognize that the adults working with our learners also need support to recognize these needs and to provide an emotionally safe learning environment throughout the entire school day.”
TPS has taken next steps in developing a focus on the “whole learner” which includes developing socially and emotionally strong facilitators, learners and educational environments, including the addition of Social Emotional Learning Consultant, Michelle Hutchison.
In this role, Hutchison will support the psychological development of learners by helping to build a relationally strong school culture that is intentional in helping learners become resilient and emotionally intelligent.
“Research in the neuroscience and human behavior disciplines has evolved our understanding of how brain development influences behavior, ultimately impacting learning,” Hutchison said. “We also know our experiences affect physiological brain development, change and shape us as individual, and impact how we relate to our world.”
Understanding how our experiences, including stressful situations, trauma and mental illness impact brain development and behavior provides better direction for educators as they work to grow all learners personally, socially and academically.
A facet of Hutchison’s work will be through the implementation of Trauma Informed practices within the district. Trauma informed schools are those in which the staff is trained to recognize and respond to both children and adults who are experiencing the effects of stress which ultimately impacts learning.
“When we think of traumatic experiences, we sometimes think only of extreme situations such as abuse, neglect or witnessing crime,” Hutchison said. “However, it is important to recognize that other big life transitions or situations such as a move, ongoing medical concerns, economic hardship, divorce, lack of support and distracted parenting can affect a child’s ability to focus and learn, due to the impact that these stressors can have on the developing brain.”
Hutchison and Tecumseh High School Guidance Counselor Jennifer Morgan are Trauma Informed Certified and are certified to train others in becoming Trauma Informed.
Training will be provided to all staff around understanding the foundational principles and supports of Trauma Informed Care, with additional training available to staff who want to serve on Trauma Informed expert teams.
“These teams will assist their buildings in developing approaches to best support behaviors and meet individual psychological needs based on the Trauma Informed model,” Hutchison said. “They will be equipped to recognize symptoms of trauma and stress, and to help structure the classroom environment to help learners develop the skills to understand and manage their emotions, maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.”
Trauma Informed School districts have been shown to have:
- improved academic achievement and test scores
- reduced stress experienced by staff and students
- reduced absences, detentions and suspensions
- reduced bullying, harassment and fights
- reduced burden on special education services
- improved school climate
- improved teacher job satisfaction and retention
- improved graduation rates
“In supporting this training, the district is creating a system that supports positive connections between our learners and adults,” Coffin said. “We are committed to ensuring the social emotional needs of learners and adults are recognized and supported.”