In my health class I promote lifelong health and well-being but one area in which I could improve is understanding and fully appreciating the role of adverse childhood experiences, and the impact they have on health and opportunity. This week’s blog post and questions specifically addresses this topic and comes from Tammy Wynard, a wonderful educator, awesome presenter and someone I am fortunate to call a friend.
Happy New Year! The ever changing season where everyone wants to ‘improve’ somehow, and where some feel gluttonous about their past behaviors. We are inundated with physical and emotional ploys to get better, faster, stronger, etc. . . . to counteract our woeful ways. Does this resonate with you? Your students? How you interact with your students?
What if the major lifestyle disease that we as a society have succumbed to are not just managed by our own free will? We know that through social determinants of health there are many complex influences as to the well-being of ourselves, our students, and our communities, but it is very easy to get caught up in the improvement mode this time of year.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Tammy Wynard and I am the Department Chair for Kinesiology and an Assistant Professor at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. I have a blended background of working in public health and in school health education. I have taught for a large suburban health department, for two hospitals, a middle and high school, and finally in higher ed for the last 15 years. Imagine my shock and amazement with me being in the education and public health field for 20+ years that I didn’t even start to learn about Adverse Childhood Experiences and their impact on the major leading causes of death and disability until 5 or so years ago!
Luckily, we are catapulting down a hill at such a fast pace, our break neck speed is both long overdue and concerning. Let me take you on a short journey.
Have you heard about
- Adverse Childhood Experiences? (ACEs)
- Trauma Informed Practices? (TIPs)
- Trauma Informed Schools?
- Trauma Sensitive Schools or Classrooms?
Let’s Dig In!
ACEs is about Childhood Trauma and thus it may be about you. In the U.S., an estimated 70% of all people have experienced trauma at some point in their lives. That translates into 224 million hurting children and adults in the United States alone. As you will see the amount of individuals in our country that have at least one ACE is a high majority, let alone those that may have more than one.
It is imperative to work through your own trauma to understand how it impacts you as an educator, and how it is most definitely affecting students you will be teaching. Educators and those in the Human Service field often experience what is called Secondary Trauma or Compassion Fatigue, a large area that I present on when I provide presentations or workshops.
As a first step, please go to this site and complete the ACEs scoring sheet so you know your score.
After you get your score, stay on that page and read through the initial findings of the study, as it will create a framework for moving forward.
If you want a visual summary of the findings, you can watch this quick 5 Mins ACEs primer video:
Since the release of the findings from the original study 20 years ago, there has been hundreds of studies done regarding ACEs globally. This research has translated into many trauma informed practices happening in medicine, faith communities, health care, and education. Please remember that this is not a program, it is a LENS through which we see people (students, colleagues, parents, clients, etc. . . .). It is an approach to the interpersonal nature of working with people so they can have felt safety, trust/connection, and emotional regulation skills – three very important components for students to have in the school setting. Having this lens is necessary when implementing common programs and processes in school such as an SEL curriculum, PBIS, etc. . .
An additional key to remember is that ACEs affects all students in all races and socio-economic statuses. We do know that communities themselves have high ACE scores due to the nature of violence and systemic discrimination, which adds even more complexity to our work.
My focus has been on advocating for requirements in teacher and administrator preparation programs to have ACES and TIPs information and implementation strategies throughout, and it is a slow by oh so purposeful mountain that I am climbing. My research focuses on the major gaps in professional preparation and existing professional development related to ACEs and TIPs.
Here are some essential viewings for educators and other professionals that suggest starting with:
Purchasing and viewing these two DVDs that clearly explain the need for Trauma Informed Practices and Trauma Sensitive Schools.
What else can you do?
There are so many strategies and insights that I can share here that are applicable to schools and classrooms, but the one drawback that I am seeing is that professionals want to jump to implementation before taking the time to be fully informed. This lens takes time to digest and plan for, of course they are some tools that teachers can use now (one favorite is an understanding of flipping the lid which you can see here…
…but a firm foundation will only help in the long run for successful cultural change.
See how Milwaukee is taking steps to be the most trauma informed city here: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/milwaukee/2018/09/24/can-milwaukee-become-most-trauma-informed-city-country/1370492002/
Addressing trauma’s impact on learning does not depend on having full information about a student’s traumatic experiences.
The best approach is to ensure that trauma-sensitive learning environments are provided for all children, regardless of whether an individual student is known to have a traumatic history.
You can contact me directly for conversation outside of Twitter, or to request a presentation or workshop at email@example.com. I also have additional information about my consulting services available on my LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tammy-wynard-61229b62/
I did my best to provide a useful compilation of many additional resources for you here:
Childhood Trauma and Informed Practices Resource List
Wisconsin Department of Education: Fantastic modules on becoming Trauma Sensitive Schools and Teachers https://dpi.wi.gov/sspw/mental-health/trauma/modules
- The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family, Dr. Karin Purvis, Dr. David Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine – You can access Chapter 4 for free here which is very helpful for educators- https://child.tcu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/The-Connected-Child-Chapter-Four.pdf
- The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris
- The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson
- Creating Healing School Communities: School-Based Interventions for Students Exposed to Trauma, Dr. Catherine DeCarlo Santiago, Dr. Tali Raviv, and Dr. Lisa Jaycox
- Trauma-Sensitive Schools: Learning Communities Transforming Children’s Lives, K-5, Dr. Susan E Craig – Secondary Level Version Too
- Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom, Kristin Souers with Pete hall
- Plumb, J.L., Bush, K.A., & Kersevich, S.E. (2016). Trauma-sensitive schools: An evidence-based approach. School Social Work Journal, 40(2), 37-60.
Trauma Informed Education Podcast – available on different platforms
Trust Based Relational Intervention for the Classroom Links:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBW9RKLvTR5C46ey7gy3NuA – You Tube Channel
Q1: Have you heard of ACEs and/or TIPs before? If so where and when? #slowchathealth
Q2: Why do you think it took so many years for the results from the original study to get to the professionals? #slowchathealth
Q3: Share a story of how you have seen trauma play out in your classroom or school? #slowchathealth
Q4: Do you think we should teach about ACEs to our students in Health Education class? #slowchathealth
Q5: What are you going to do next to share this information, or to increase your own knowledge base on ACEs and TIPs? #slowchathealth