Reminders for the new year

Steven Amaro • Principal Leadership Article

On nearly every campus nationwide, educators find themselves struggling with a problem that is mostly overlooked in teacher preparation programs: how to address the needs of students who have experienced trauma. Teachers feel a passion for what they do and want to make a positive difference in the lives of children, but students with trauma have needs that some teachers are ill-equipped to address. Traumatic experiences generally impact students negatively and affect daily peer and teacher interactions. Educators can create environments to alleviate student worries and help students feel respected, safe, and able to succeed academically.

Trauma is defined as a troubling personal experience that affects behavior, thoughts, and even emotions; it interrupts normal behaviors and hinders rational thought processes. Some students are visibly distressed while others internalize their experiences. Regardless of how students reveal their trauma, schools can create programs that help students manage the effects of trauma and be successful. Effective trauma programs should include: