Trauma in the Classroom

College of Education

Trauma is present in every classroom, and it can affect a child’s ability to learn. According to the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, over 60 percent of students have experienced some form of trauma, crime or abuse in the prior year. Georgia Southern College of Education Professors Regina Rahimi, Ed.D., Delores Liston, Ph.D., and Amee Adkins, Ph.D., surveyed school professionals in Georgia to determine next steps for implementing trauma informed practices in schools.

“For children, we should assume that they don’t have help mitigating the effects of trauma and that their lives will be better if they get some help,” said Adkins. “So trauma-informed practice, whether you are in social work, mental health services or an educator, says start with the assumption that you may have youth who are living with trauma, and it asks what can you do to create a soothing, peaceful, functioning environment for them.”

Tactics could be as simple as giving the student a sense of control through allowing choices, evoking stability and routine, providing a safe, predictable environment, quiet spaces and de-escalation tactics such as breathing exercises.

“There is a woeful need for more mental health care, more counselors and more adults in general that can speak to these issues,” said Rahimi. “This is what has led to the passion we have for this project. Where there is an absence of counselors, we need to help teachers understand the consequences of trauma and some of the social and emotional needs of students.”

“We are not trying to turn teachers into counselors,” added Liston. “We want to equip teachers with tools to identify students who are facing these difficulties as well as recognize that certain behaviors or patterns could, in fact, be indicators of trauma. Then, we can help them understand tactics to not compound the problem.”

Rahimi, Liston and Adkins are creating a professional learning network that captures national research and engagement and brings it down to a local level. They plan to utilize a central website along with various social media platforms to share and connect individuals with resources and information about trauma in students.

To join the conversation about trauma informed practices, contact Regina Rahimi (rrahimi@georgiasouthern.edu) to become a part of the professional learning network.

­— Cinnamon Dowd, Communications Coordinator

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