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Classroom180 Look Inside

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Relationships and Family Culture 5 1 4 2 3

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DOM A IN 1 DOMAIN 1 Relationships and Family Culture D O M A I N 1 R E L A T I O N S H I P S A N D F A M I LY C U L T U R E 3

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R E L AT I O N S H I P S A N D FA M I LY C U LT U R E 1 Family Culture 2 Teacher Student Relationship 3 Student Student Relationship 4 Teacher Parent Relationship

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DOM A IN 1 DOMAIN 1 Relationships and Family Culture A s human beings we are social creatures When we are connected we are happy and able to function at our highest levels Unfortunately today s students are growing up in a world where there is a tremendous amount of disconnect Many factors contribute to this but certainly technology and a heightened level of stress within families play a large role The result is that our students are coming into our schools more disconnected than ever While parents and families form the first level of a child s relationships it is the school that forms a child s next level of relationships Community entities such as after school programs agencies YMCA Girls and Boys Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters etc religious organizations medical facilities child protective services CPS and law enforcement form the third level of relationships The radial diagram in Figure 1 1 illustrates this concept CPS Religious organizations Agencies Family Government Medical facilities Law enforcement School After school Community Figure 1 1 Radial diagram showing the three levels of relationships children experience D O M A I N 1 R E L A T I O N S H I P S A N D F A M I LY C U L T U R E 5

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When families are overly stressed or when there are patterns of trauma or even singular incidents of trauma in a child s life it is highly likely that the child will come to school stressed out overwhelmed and or dysregulated As shown in Figure 1 2 the school holds the next level of responsibility to help this child get connected to others and experience the stability he needs to get back into alignment Although schools were originally established to help children solely at an academic level this worked for most students because their family systems were able to provide the connection and stability that these students needed But times have changed and our children are needing their schools to operate from a broader perspective CPS Religious organizations Agencies Government Medical facilities Law enforcement School After school Community Figure 1 2 Radial diagram showing that when families fall apart the school is the next line of connection for children The trauma informed movement provides this broader perspective It is a movement based on the need for children to be in strong and loving relationships not only from their families but also from their schools This concept also follows the growing field of human social neuroscience that stresses the importance of social interactions for mental health Additionally brain science is explicitly showing that when children and adults are connected and feeling emotionally secure they can think more clearly their memory systems are intact and most importantly their love for learning is back online Relationships are thus at the heart of the trauma informed movement and it is within the classroom that the strongest relationships are developed When the classroom becomes more than purely a place to expand a child s intellect but also offers relationships to provide 6 CL A SSRO O M18 0

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DOM A IN 1 for the whole child s development everyone wins It takes expanding our perspective to see the school classroom more like a family a place where every student is accepted and supported unconditionally When we create classrooms to function as a family and we support the needs of students from a holistic perspective as a healthy family would children want to come to school see Figure 1 3 They want to learn and they are more neurologically equipped to do so They feel accepted loved and validated Not only do they feel like they belong they know they belong to something bigger than themselves they have a place in this world They develop a greater sense of empathy for themselves and for those around them and ultimately academic test scores increase as well Figure 1 3 The response a teacher This concept of the classroom becoming received from one student when the family is especially significant for students she asked all her students What impacted by trauma because one of the do you need me to know to make school better biggest fallouts from trauma is rejection and abandonment Nothing can ever replace a child s family but school is the next line of contact with children so it can have a powerful and healing impact on them Belonging is a fundamental need for every child and it is essential to every child s overall well being especially for our Billys who are typically missing this dynamic When creating a trauma informed classroom the following relationship based components need to be developed 1 Family Culture Teacher Student Relationships Student Student Relationships Teacher Parent Relationships Family Culture Children are molded by their family culture By creating a family culture within the classroom teachers can help mold guide and strengthen their students in a positive direction By creating a family culture the classroom becomes an environment where D O M A I N 1 R E L A T I O N S H I P S A N D F A M I LY C U L T U R E 7

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students will not be judged or bullied It becomes a place where students are free to define their own identities where prejudice is replaced by pure unconditional acceptance It is an environment where the teacher and the students are aware of and respect the emotions of others It is a place where students are empowered encouraged and stand up for each other Figure 1 4 shows a sign hanging in a middle school classroom to give a visual reminder to students that their class is a family Whether a teacher is setting up a family culture to resemble and reinforce a healthy family system similar to Andy s or to redefine what a healthy family should look like for Billy classrooms dedicated to creating a family culture will find themselves better Figure 1 4 Sign from a middle school able to meet the emotional social behavioral classroom Used with permission psychological and academic needs of their students Intentionally creating a family culture within the classroom will require implementing many of the following strategies Establish and Teach Hierarchy One of the most notable characteristics of a healthy family is that there is a clear sense of hierarchy among the family members Within the nuclear family adults are in charge of the children The adults take care of the children and they make the decisions The children in turn understand this hierarchy Although they may resist this structure on occasion they accept the flow of this hierarchy This hierarchy of the family system will vary from culture to culture Hispanic Chinese Native American etc but the basic premise is the same The adults are in charge Additionally the adults may be defined as a single parent or two parents heterosexual couples and same sex couples But again the same basic premise holds The adults are in charge For illustration purposes Figure 1 5 shows the hierarchical structure of the traditional American family In this family system Andy grows up with a clear definition of where he fits into his family He is equal to his siblings He knows his parents are there to set rules and guidelines but also that they are there to take care of him to nurture him and to create a loving 8 CL A SSRO O M18 0

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EXERCISE Getting into the Shoes of Billy Reflective Questions 1 Family Culture Do I feel like I belong Do I want to be in this classroom or leave Am I valued and appreciated Do I feel emotionally safe in this classroom Is my teacher authentic and genuine or is she just going through the motions because someone told her to be trauma informed Am I watching the clock just waiting for the bell to ring so I can go to my next class 2 Teacher Student Relationships Do I feel safe enough to ask a question regarding the assignment content Do I feel comfortable approaching my teacher on a personal issue Does my teacher authentically care about me Does my teacher know anything about me Do I know anything about my teacher 3 Student Student Relationships Do I feel connected to my classmates or do I feel like an outsider Do my classmates include me in group work Do my classmates notice when I m disconnected Do they initiate connection to include me 46 CL A SSRO O M18 0

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5 1 4 2 3 Regulation

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DOM A IN 2 DOMAIN 2 Regulation D O M A I N 2 R E G U L AT I O N 49

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R EGUL AT ION 5 Physical Environment 6 Universal Proactive Supports 7 Transitional Support 8 Individual Interventions 9 Awareness Openness and Empathy 10 Window of Stress Tolerance 11 Teacher Self Regulation

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DOMAIN 2 Regulation DOM A IN 2 R elationships are the backbone of a trauma informed platform because most trauma happens within the context of relationships Thus it is only logical that the healing from trauma happens where the pain originally occurred within the context of relationships The well being of children depends on the health of the relationships they have with the adults in their lives The deepest and most profound relationships children develop occur in predominately two environments home and school For children coming to school with healthy relationships at home they still need connected and loving relationships at school For children coming to school with unhealthy and strained relationships at home the need for healthy and loving relationships at school is paramount to their success at school Domain 1 Relationships and Family Culture is a precursor to Domain 2 which focuses on regulation Regulation is the ability to handle stress calm the nervous system and sustain one s focus and emotional balance The trauma informed platform is a co regulatory model meaning it takes strong connected and loving relationships to help students be able to regulate Domains 1 and 2 work hand in hand Simply giving students a fidget and telling them to get regulated is ineffective if the students are not connected and emotionally secure with the adults around them This idea of a co regulatory model is biologically based From the time children are born they depend on the adults around them to help them regulate As children grow their developmental journey involves a progression of relying less on the adults in their lives to regulate while they move closer to self regulating on their own Brain science is showing that this journey takes about twenty five years in an optimal environment Hence the need for adults to be present in students lives to help them regulate is necessary from preschool through high school and beyond D O M A I N 2 R E G U L AT I O N 51

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Trauma interrupts this linear progression of developing a strong and self sustained regulatory system When adults are unable to meet the relationship and regulatory needs of young children and when life events for these children become overwhelming and scary they enter school with compromised regulatory systems and view life from a lens of fear As a result they are unable to handle stress calm down and adequately self soothe when becoming overly stressed Their regulatory systems are also patterned to react at high levels of intensity from living in sustained states of survival The solution lies in building relationships with these children Domain 1 Relationships and Family Culture and offering classrooms that provide regulatory supports Domain 2 Regulation When these two are successfully implemented the changes can be dramatic Students are better able to handle stress their behaviors improve and they are more ready to learn It takes both relationship and regulation which are interconnected by the basic concept that regulation is relationship dependent in children In the classroom there are numerous ways to support students in their regulation From the 27 components of Classroom180 Domain 2 Regulation includes components 5 through 11 5 Physical Environment Universal Proactive Supports Transitional Support Individual Interventions Awareness Openness and Empathy Window of Stress Tolerance Teacher Self Regulation Physical Environment Children s brains are in the process of developing Their executive functions responsible for filtering out and prioritizing information are solidifying Their undeveloped brains take everything in all at once so a classroom that has too much visual stimulation or is overly disorganized can interfere with their ability to focus and concentrate It overwhelms their brains This is especially true for children impacted by trauma Years ago the practice of feng shui became very popular While it may have been a fad its intention was to help harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment Feng shui can be thought of as the art of placement within a space designed to bring balance and harmony Students impacted by trauma are so internally chaotic and out 52 CL A SSRO O M18 0

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DOM A IN 2 of balance that creating an external environment of harmony and balance becomes of great importance to self regulation Although a trauma informed approach is not about implementing feng shui it does require being mindful about how the physical environment influences students regulation and balance For instance how different does it feels to walk into a Chuck E Cheese compared to a day spa Different environments will activate a person s nervous system differently and from one extreme to another Classrooms should be warm and lively yet not too sterile or overwhelming The following strategies show how teachers can create a trauma informed classroom Be Well Organized and Clutter Free A classroom that is well organized and free of clutter offers students an external environment of calm If the teacher s desk is neat and tidy it subconsciously conveys the message I m regulated in balance and I ve got things together Conversely if the teacher s desk is disorganized and a mess the message conveyed becomes I don t have time for you I m in the middle of my tasks As can be seen in Figure 2 1 the overabundance of boxes stacked to the ceiling desktops that are cluttered and an overall feeling of disorganization makes it difficult for dysregulated students to gain a sense of regulation and order from their external environment Figure 2 1 A chaotic and disorganized classroom D O M A I N 2 R E G U L AT I O N 53

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When looking at the organization of the classroom papers should be put away and in their proper places Bins should be labeled and straightened Backpacks need to be in their proper places Curtains or covers can be used to hide numerous but needed school and art supplies as seen in Figure 2 2 When walking into a classroom that is organized and free of clutter it has the ability to automatically shift one s nervous system to a greater state of calm Figure 2 2 Curtains covering bookshelves in both elementary and secondary classrooms A well organized classroom can make all the difference for some students in their ability to function A classroom that has a strong sense of order can be powerful enough even without any of the other strategies discussed in this section to help students feel a sense of calm It truly is possible for this one item on the checklist Be Well Organized and Clutter Free to be enough to be considered a trauma informed classroom Indeed an external environment of order and strength has the power to override a student s internal environment of chaos and confusion Create Soft Lighting Students impacted by trauma can be sensitive to harsh fluorescent lighting Removing and replacing the overhead lights typically are not an option However there are creative ways to improve the lighting in a classroom Either entirely or partially turn off the fluorescent lights and replace them with table or floor lighting using warm LED bulbs garage sales and thrift stores offer price friendly options Or add fluorescent light covers diffusers designed to reduce glare and flickering as seen in Figure 2 3 Safety54 CL A SSRO O M18 0

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DOM A IN 2 certified covers are best and all changes should first be approved by the school administrator s to comply with code requirements When possible daylight should be allowed into the room but make sure it does not become a distraction to the outdoors String lights are also an option as they provide soft warm and friendly lighting to a room Some teachers have successfully turned off all the overhead fluorescent lights and added warm white string lights around the ceiling see Figure 2 4 Figure 2 3 Fluorescent light diffuser Use Calm Colors The colors of a room can influence a student s mood and performance Certain colors have even been shown to increase blood pressure and eyestrain Choose colors that invoke feelings of calm relaxation and comfort such as blues and greens Large amounts of bright colors that can overstimulate students reds and oranges in particular should be avoided Accent colors can be beneficial yet they should remain just that accent colors Avoid overdoing it with too much color All colors need to be well coordinated so they do not clash with one another Offer Flexible Seating Many students impacted by trauma have challenges sitting at a traditional desk due to a variety of issues so having flexible seating is highly recommended Additionally giving students a voice and choice on their seating selection can be powerful and another way to build trust and mutual respect Flexible seating options can include fitness balls kneeling chairs stools beanbag chairs cushions or mats the floor standing desks or high top tables scoop chairs and more For high energy students options such as a pedal exerciser and a marked pacing area in the back of the classroom should be available If traditional desks are used they Figure 2 4 String lighting from an eighth grade science classroom D O M A I N 2 R E G U L AT I O N 55

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Figure 2 5 A variety of seating options from different classrooms 56 CL A SSRO O M18 0

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need to be well organized to give the classroom the feeling of order and stability Figure 2 5 shows a variety of seating options from different classrooms DOM A IN 2 Create a Calm Corner One of the trademarks of a traumainformed classroom is having a sectioned area in the back of the room or off to the side designated as a calm corner or another name with the purpose of allowing students to take a break when needed see Figure 2 6 Some creative names teachers have created for this space are Peace corner Zen den Re center center Pit stop Break station Comfort corner PAL Peace and Love zone Hawaii so students can say I m going to Hawaii Antarctica definitely a place to cool down Figure 2 6 Calm corner Figure 2 7 Laminated bookmark with calming strategies The calm corner should be equipped with sensory and regulatory items soft rug pillows blanket lap pad stuffed animals beanbag chair etc books magazines and other regulating items to empower students to regulate back down and reset themselves The calm corner should be well defined as a separate physical space typically in the back of the classroom where it will not interrupt the other students The goal is for students who use this space to take a break and regulate their systems so they can return to their academics Posting a set of calming strategies empowers and reminds students of the ways they can calm themselves Or as shown in Figure 2 7 a laminated bookmark listing D O M A I N 2 R E G U L AT I O N 57

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calming strategies can be placed in a calm corner Students who go into flight mode often want to crawl under their desks to create a womb of safety Having a calm corner that allows for some privacy without obstructing the view as seen in Figure 2 8 can be very beneficial Boundaries and clear expectations need to be set around the use of a calm corner Students should understand when they can use the calm corner and how long they can stay whether they need permission from the teacher how many times a day they can use the calm corner and what the protocol is if they are not ready to return to their desks Students also need to understand the expectations of how to go to the calm corner without disturbing the rest of the class and how to return to their desks once they are ready While using a timer may seem like a logical tool to ensure that students do not abuse the use of this space watching a timer can actually increase a child s stress so this tool may need to be modified for some students Instead of an egg timer or a digital timer a sand timer may work well as it is visually Figure 2 8 A calm corner in a secondary classroom more relaxing However if any type of timer becomes too stress inducing the teacher can clarify that the student may stay in the calm corner until he feels calm or until he feels regulated enough to go back to his desk The teacher should monitor the time If it becomes longer than five or ten minutes this may indicate that the student will need a more intensive strategy to calm down Or if the teacher suspects the student is using the calm corner to avoid work she can lovingly mention that he will still need to make up the work he is missing and perhaps the two of them can do so during recess or another fun time in the student s schedule For the student who is regulated and uses the calm corner as an avoidance this conversation typically gets him right back to his desk Play Background Sounds Music played in the classroom can create a calming atmosphere and help settle students 58 CL A SSRO O M18 0

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DOM A IN 2 nervous systems Music free of lyrics classical music drumming instrumentals New Age ambient music and others is best because music is processed in the right brain allowing calming access to the emotional brain Language is processed in the left brain so music with lyrics is not as effective at calming and regulating The volume should be low as many students who operate at a high intensity often hear sounds much louder than others Additionally white noise machines or fans can be used to mask distracting noise coming from outside the classroom Use Background Sights Streaming a video of a nature scene rather than displaying a stagnant picture of a mountain or beach scene can be very effective in providing a calming environment Using such videos should be done in a way that is not too distracting yet is still effective in providing another level of sensory calming Use Aromatherapy Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years in China India Egypt and other cultures Recently it has gained more attention in the fields of science and medicine Natural oils such as lavender peppermint and sandalwood have been shown to improve mood and decrease anxiety The use of a diffuser in a classroom can be effective as long as the smell is not overpowering and consideration is taken ahead of time for any allergies Decorate with Nature and Pleasing Textures We decorate our houses with plants flowers artificial plastic flowers rugs pillows and other accessories to give them a warm and calming feeling Bringing these additions into the classroom can similarly help a classroom be a more soothing environment for students Plants especially counterbalance man made technology with the calming influence of nature Rugs can reduce noise from inside and outside of the classroom Pillows and other items that add soothing textures and colors can also be great additions Teachers have to be sure though that their district s guidelines allow such additions to the classroom Keep Pets Many students find connecting with animals easier and more regulating than connecting with people Having classroom pets can be the first step to helping these students connect see Figure 2 9 Animals such as bunnies fish guinea pigs mice and a bearded dragon D O M A I N 2 R E G U L AT I O N 59

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5 1 4 2 3 Language of Trauma

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LANGUAGE OF TR AUMA 12 Communication Shift 13 Right Brain to Right Brain De Escalation 14 Affect Tolerance 15 Nonverbal Communication 16 Positive Language

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DOMAIN 3 Language of Trauma T rauma changes how students perceive themselves and how they perceive themselves DOMAIN 3 in this world It shifts students to a deep perspective of fear Thus working with students impacted by trauma requires us to learn to view everything from this lens of fear Everything we say everything we do everything we perceive everything has to be viewed from this lens of fear if we are going to be successful in relating to these students Domain 3 reflects this concept of relating to students impacted by trauma through this lens of fear It requires us to shift how we communicate with students how we use language to describe their behaviors and challenges and how we stay aware of our nonverbal communication In essence it is about learning to speak the language of trauma Behavior is a form of communication Instead of dealing with challenging behaviors which are only a symptom we have to learn to interpret students behaviors to get to the root cause of what is driving them Our ability to relate to students and to understand what is being said by their behaviors determines our effectiveness in helping them in the long term In a trauma informed classroom we must learn to speak trauma as evidenced in the following components Communication Shift Right Brain to Right Brain De Escalation Affect Tolerance Nonverbal Communication Positive Language DOMAI N 3 L ANGUAGE OF TR AUMA 115

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12 Communication Shift Our students communicate with us all the time whether in appropriate or inappropriate ways both verbally and nonverbally Learning how to interpret what they are saying beyond the surface meaning of their language is a vital part of being trauma informed It means being mindful of how we interact with students when they are being inappropriate by taking a proverbial step back to reflect and not react but respond It requires learning to interpret negative behaviors and understanding that behavior is a form of communication It also requires making a 180 degree shift to get behind the lens of fear to demonstrate to students the lens of love In short it requires learning to speak trauma Interpret Negative Language Too often the language students use is taken at face value while the deeper meaning behind the language is lost For example if a student says I don t care about this assignment our first reaction is to think You need to care about this assignment Trauma runs deep within the heart of students so it demands that we too go deeper into understanding the words and expressions students use A simple statement such as I don t care about this assignment often has an entire childhood history behind it Perhaps Too often the language this comes from a student who was told I don t care about you by his parents or the adults in students use is taken his life either explicitly or implicitly at face value while the If students get the message that someone significant in their life does not care about them deeper meaning behind then why would they in turn care about anything in their life When children are nurtured and the language is lost lovingly cared for they respond to academic work with interest and concern They are reflecting in their academics what was given to them it is a blueprint that follows them throughout each day and into each activity they do Students like Andy have had someone take interest in them and thus have the ability to reciprocate and take an interest in their academics However if someone like Billy has not been the recipient of this type of care and nurturing it will show up in Billy s language and behavior in the classroom Learning to interpret the language of trauma is about getting into Billy s perspective to be able to truly hear and understand him Billy does not have the ability to express 116 CL A SSRO O M18 0

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his deeper truths nor does he desire to be vulnerable enough to share them What he is really saying here is I don t know how to care about this assignment because no one has ever really cared about me I don t have a frame of reference for knowing what it feels like to be cared for or to care for something myself It is a concept I am unfamiliar with But if you care about me and take interest in me I will be able to experience what this feeling is all about and it will motivate me to care about this assignment in the future Yet the teacher hears an utterly negative statement from Billy I don t care about this assignment so her perception of him is painted in a negative light DOMAIN 3 Instead of reacting to these types of negative statements it takes learning to listen carefully to what Billy is saying and then responding accordingly Table 3 1 gives examples of negative language interpretations On the left hand side is a list of what students typically say On the right hand side are the true interpretations of what the student is really saying Table 3 1 Negative language interpretations Interpreting the Language of Trauma Student s Comment Trauma Interpretation I hate you I hate myself You re really pissing me off I need you to know that I m about to hit my window of stress tolerance This sucks My life sucks I don t care I m too scared to try or I m too overwhelmed to try This assignment is stupid I feel stupid and this assignment is only going to make me feel more stupid She gets on my nerves My nervous system is overwhelmed You re not in charge of me I m scared you ll hurt me or reject me F ck off The only way for me to be OK right now is to disconnect DOMAI N 3 L ANGUAGE OF TR AUMA 117

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Understand the Lens of Fear When communicating with students impacted by trauma it is imperative to understand how their lens of fear will distort their interpretation of the world around them Everything that is said to them done to them and everything they experience will have a fearbased and negative slant to it These students bring to life the old adage that debates whether the glass is half full or half empty Billy will always see the glass as half empty This translates into some of the following subconscious thoughts that consume Billy throughout his school day Something bad is going to happen You re against me I ll abandon you before you abandon me If I don t win I m going to die I can t trust you Ever I m not worthy I am supposed to suffer and struggle I ll lie and cover up in a passive and covert way to the point where you question your own reality I ll demand perfectionism from myself and everyone around me to create a pseudo sense of stability for myself I will never give you the benefit of the doubt I ll simply expect the worst from you as a way to protect myself The world is too unsafe I ll stay in my own reality This lens of fear from which Billy s world is interpreted comes from living in unpredictability and uncertainty where life events have been or are hurtful scary and disappointing Billy lives in a world where joy and happiness are lost to anger and sadness To reduce the pain associated with negative outcomes Billy makes it a practice to expect the worst instead of expecting the best From Billy s lens of fear it is not whether something bad will happen it is about when something bad will happen Billy essentially does not know that he is all right He does not know he will be OK There is no knowing that all is well Ever Billy s actions reflect this fear based stance through many of the following behaviors and others Reacts quickly and fires back in anger Gives teacher an annoyed look 118 CL A SSRO O M18 0

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Puts his hoodie over his head Scribbles on a piece of paper instead of taking notes Avoids eye contact Refuses to participate Becomes obsessive Becomes defensive In a trauma informed classroom these behaviors are seen and understood to be driven from Billy s lens of fear instead of being seen as a bad attitude or deliberate attempt to annoy the teacher There is an understanding that Billy s comments objections and arguments are fear based Table 3 2 gives an example of how a teacher student dialogue In a trauma informed DOMAI N 3 L ANGUAGE OF TR AUMA DOMAIN 3 would play out showing the contrast between a traditional interpretation and a trauma informed classroom there is an interpretation of Billy s comments understanding that Billy s outburst in this example was coming from a fear of not being able to find his journal Billy s comments Instead of being able to say I can t find my journal when the teacher asked him if he was objections and OK he immediately pushed it back to her by arguments are saying that she was picking on him This was all done as a self protective response to avoid fear based getting into trouble for not having his journal and looking stupid in front of his peers Billy would much rather risk being sent out of the classroom due to inappropriate behavior than to look dumb or stupid in front of his classmates Billy also becomes defensive at the end of this dialogue Again it takes an understanding of what is driving this defensive reaction Billy is still working to posture himself away from being completely unprepared He does have his pencil so he is holding on to this one redeeming point to save himself To correct his defensiveness now would only ignite more defensiveness and then the dialogue would deteriorate into a useless and futile exchange The correction can happen later to build his self esteem and teach him how to develop a more evolved skill set to overcome the need to be defensive refer to Domain 5 Discipline and Empowerment 119

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Table 3 2 Traditional versus trauma informed interpretation of Billy s comments Interpreting through the Lens of Fear Traditional Interpretation Trauma Informed Interpretation Teacher OK class I need you to take out your journals and a pencil Teacher OK class I need you to take out your journals and a pencil Billy takes a little longer to do this and appears to be a bit discombobulated Billy takes a little longer to do this and appears to be a bit discombobulated Teacher Is everything OK over there Billy Teacher Is everything OK over there Billy Billy What Billy What Teacher Billy I m just checking in to see if you might need a little extra time or help Teacher Billy I m just checking in to see if you might need a little extra time or help Billy You re always picking on me Billy You re always picking on me Teacher Billy I m not picking on you I m simply offering help in case you might need it The teacher walks slowly over to Billy while speaking to the class Billy You always look at me like I m the one holding up the class Andrea doesn t have her journal out but you re not pointing her out in front of everyone The teacher squats down to Billy s level and lowers the volume of her voice Teacher OK class go ahead and get started by answering the three questions on the whiteboard in your journals for me Teacher Hey I m sorry that came across as me picking on you I want to make sure you have everything you need She notices Billy can t find his journal Teacher It s OK if you can t find your journal I ll get you a piece of paper and you can staple it into your journal later Teacher Billy enough You need to go sit outside the class until you can come back with a better attitude and stop this nonsense 120 CL A SSRO O M18 0 Billy responds in a defensive voice Billy OK Well I have my pencil

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DOMAIN 3 Take Mindful Steps Before Responding The mindfulness movement has been a great complement to the trauma informed movement To be mindful in the classroom means to pause take a breath interpret the student s language consider what is driving the student s behavior and then craft a thoughtful empathetic heartfelt response Learning how to be mindful allows teachers to stay in a place of balance and love when deciding what to say or do next It is an imperative step in helping educators respond instead of react A reaction is instantaneous It is typically driven by the desire to immediately change a student s behavior This type of reactivity draws from old patterns of thinking and old behavioral blueprints When we react automatically and impulsively we are using wellestablished neuropathways to dictate our behavior The problem with this is that we are asking our students to change how they respond and act yet we too must change Modeling mindfulness to our students before taking any type of action is key to showing them how to respond calmly with insight and empathy as seen in Table 3 3 Table 3 3 Modeling mindfulness to students Mindful Steps to Responding in the Classroom 1 Take a deep breath 2 Put the moment into perspective 3 Think about the student get into the shoes of Billy 4 Ask the question What is driving this behavior 5 Ask the next question What can I do at this very moment to improve my relationship with this student 6 Mindfully create an emotionally connecting instead of emotionally divisive response to Billy 7 Deliver this response to Billy taking into consideration the nonverbal communication associated with the delivery DOMAI N 3 L ANGUAGE OF TR AUMA 121

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The seven steps listed in Table 3 3 may seem complex and time consuming at first However the more they are practiced and the more they become the new normal and the new automatic response the more they will unfold in a matter of only a few seconds Classrooms are fast paced The pressure for teachers to meet curriculum goals and prepare students for state testing is deadline driven outcome driven and intense Taking these few seconds may feel overwhelming unnecessary and often accompanied by thoughts of I don t have time for this The reality though is that the more teachers take time for this the more time they will have to accomplish their academic goals and the more regulated Billy will be for his brain to be able to process and retain the academic learning 13 Right Brain to Right Brain De Escalation When students become highly dysregulated their brains are firing from the midbrain or even the reptilian brain The right hemisphere is the access point down into the midbrain so this means that students are operating from their right hemisphere not their left hemisphere when they are dysregulated The reason this is significant is that life is experienced differently in this hemisphere Left Hemisphere Mild emotions Routine established patterns Sequential processing Reality based Logic Language Science and math Certainty Protection Right Hemisphere Intense emotions Bottom up processing Face recognition Social cognition Get feeling survival Fantasy based Nonverbal communication Art and music Vulnerability Relationship Figure 3 1 Left hemisphere versus right hemisphere The left hemisphere interprets language and is responsible for logic sequential processing routines and certainty The right hemisphere when activated is responsible for highly intense emotions nonverbal communication relationships facial recognition 122 CL A SSRO O M18 0

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and survival Putting this knowledge into action it becomes clear that when a student is operating from his right hemisphere we have to change how we interact with this student Giving the student a lecture asking him to make a logical choice or giving directives that involve sequential actions is highly ineffective In fact these types of actions not only aggravate a student who is operating from the right hemisphere they increase the student s level of dysregulation Therefore when engaging with a student who is operating from the right hemisphere the communication with this student will have to reflect what we now know from brain science The communication is going to have to be a right brain to right brain connection Instead of giving solutions reminders of the rules rational explanations and logical consequences the communication has to connect with the student s intense emotions and be relationally based This is the art of de escalating a student DOMAIN 3 Time and again we have approached students from a left brain teacher to right brain student interaction only to have them erupt into an even deeper state of dysregulation moving from defiance disrespect or noncompliance to belligerence verbal abuse or physical aggression see Figure 3 2 cher Left Brain Tea Student disobedient refusing noncompliant disrespectful insubordinate defensive mean verbally abusive physically violent belligerent unsafe throwing threatening kicking Figure 3 2 Resulting behavior when interacting from the left brain teacher to the right brain student DOMAI N 3 L ANGUAGE OF TR AUMA 123

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