Online trauma-informed training can help educators support students who are experiencing distress due to the COVID-19 crisis. While the coronavirus risk to children appears to be minimal, many other conditions are contributing to stress and even trauma as everything unfolds.
With life different today than even 30 days ago, students had to quickly adapt from the structures of school to social isolation from their teachers and friends. They may be upset about missing school … struggling to adapt to staying indoors …struggling to focus on remote learning …or unable to avoid family issues at home.
Beyond being unable to go to school like normal, millions of students in the U.S. have also lost the safety net of resources they depended on from their school, or might be dealing with new realities at home due to the spike in unemployment. Plus, the general anxiety-filled atmosphere—especially if they’re seeing it in their own home—can have long-term effects.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) include circumstances such as economic hardship, divorce, abuse, and neglect which can interrupt physical and mental development and even change a child’s brain. We know that pre-pandemic, 45% of children in the United States experienced at least one ACE, and one in 10 experienced three or more. COVID-19 will amplify these numbers, and not just because of the trauma from the pandemic itself (although that will affect virtually all children), but also the economic hardships and increased instances of abuse that will likely come with it.
With social distancing measures in place and many schools shifting to online learning, how can educators continue to support their students’ mental health?
The Need for Trauma-Informed Practices in Schools
School staff and teachers need more training to better understand the impact of trauma on students and to help implement trauma-informed strategies and policies.
In an article published by Teaching Tolerance, experts from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network shared recommendations for educators supporting students during the COVID-19 crisis. One of these recommendations was to let relationships be the focus, and even prioritize relationships and well-being over assignments and behavioral compliance.
As the connection between trauma and behavior has become better understood, trauma-informed practices have already been put in place in many schools throughout the country. In some states, trauma-informed teaching is even required. And now, it’s even more important, as every one of our students has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Although there isn’t a true case study for the present situation, it can be compared to a natural disaster. A natural disaster is obviously not as widespread, but it does impact entire geographic regions and school districts. In these instances, such as hurricanes, all students experience stress related to that event – school closures accompanying change at home.
An example we can model after now is Houston schools and Hurricane Harvey, and how these districts prepared their teachers to put trauma-informed practices in place following the devastation. An online trauma-informed training for educators, which UNICEF USA and Mental Health America (MHA) of Greater Houston worked with Kognito to help create, reached 57,000 educators who serve 940,000 students. You can learn more about how it came to fruition in this post.
We believe this online trauma-informed training can help provide guidance as schools throughout the U.S. work to support students during this critical time.
How Online Trauma-Informed Training Can Prepare Educators to Respond to COVID-19
Trauma-Informed Practices for K12 Schools is an interactive role-play simulation that builds educators’ awareness of the impact of trauma, and helps them gain skills to help them better support at-risk students.
This online trauma-informed training takes just 35-45 minutes to complete. Educators practice having conversations with virtual students that match the grade levels they teach (elementary, middle, or high school). These virtual students behave and react based on how your staff member speaks to them, helping your teachers gain real experience in a safe setting.
Here are some ways that this online trauma-informed training can quickly prepare your workforce to to provide trauma-informed practices for students:
Gives educators a better understanding of trauma.
Trauma-Informed Practices increases knowledge and awareness about the types of experiences that can cause distress or trauma, and how these relate to brain development.
Helps educators learn how to recognize trauma.
Educators learn how to recognize when a student’s behavior might be the result of trauma or stress, so they can identify students who may need extra support. The training also addresses the educator’s own needs for self-care.
Equips educators with skills to lead impactful conversations.
Educators taking the online trauma-informed training learn how to lead conversations with students to address how they might be feeling. Based on this conversation, they learn how to assess the need for referral, motivating students to seek help when needed.
Once educators learn these conversation skills, they put them into practice. That’s what makes the simulation so unique; teachers can actually put themselves in realistic scenarios and practice having important conversations in a safe environment.
Across our clients who have completed Trauma-Informed Practices, 80% agree or strongly agree that they feel confident in their ability to implement trauma-informed approaches in teaching, up from 48% before taking the simulation.
Bring Trauma-Informed Practices to Your District
Trauma-Informed Practices can be deployed in less than one week, so you can give your teachers knowledge and skills they can quickly put into practice. Plus, the interactive simulation is completely online, so they can access it from any device, anywhere.
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