Becoming a Trauma-Informed Leader
Becoming a trauma-informed school leader involves understanding the impact of trauma on students, staff, and the school community while implementing strategies to create a safe and supportive learning environment. Here are some steps to becoming a trauma-informed school leader:
- Educate Yourself: Educate yourself about the effects of trauma on students, staff, and the school community. Attend trauma-informed workshops/trainings, read articles and books on the topic, and understand how to recognize signs of trauma.
- Create a Trauma-Informed Culture: Create a culture of safety and support by promoting trauma-informed practices throughout the school. Encourage staff to build relationships with students, provide opportunities for self-expression, and give students choices and autonomy. Consider implementing a trauma-informed school model or program.
- Provide Professional Development: Provide professional development opportunities for staff to learn about trauma-informed practices and how to recognize and respond to signs of trauma in students. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers training and resources for school leaders.
- Foster Collaboration: Foster collaboration between staff, parents, and community resources to create a support network for students. Collaborate with community organizations to provide resources and services for students and families.
- Prioritize Self-Care: Prioritize self-care for yourself and staff to prevent burnout and promote well-being. Encourage staff to take breaks, engage in self-care activities, and seek support when needed.
Below are additional resources on building a trauma-informed school community:
Becoming a Trauma-Informed School
A trauma-informed school is where all school administrators, teachers, staff, students, families, and community members recognize and respond to the behavioral, emotional, relational, and academic impact of traumatic stress on those within the school.
Trauma-Informed School Goals:
- Implement trauma-informed practices within a predictable structure as a comprehensive, schoolwide approach
- Promote and build supportive relationships between staff, students, families, and the community
- Develop effective, positive school discipline that does not re-traumatize students
- Build student capacity to address trauma, support regulation, and build resilience by teaching social and personal competencies
- Empower students by offering choices and opportunities to participate and belong
- Create a safe and welcoming climate for all students
To participate in the Resilient School Community Initiative through the Division of Student and Family Services requires a commitment to successfully completing the steps below:
- Form a trauma-informed team of three or more staff
- Complete the six-hour training: Building Strong Brains: Strategies for Educators
- Participate in a book study of “Help for Billy”
- Create an action plan with a minimum of the following five components: training, staff self-care, family engagement, strategy implementation and data
- Collect attendance, discipline, report card, teacher retention, and school climate data
- Participate in a monthly community of practice calls
- Complete the three-hour training: Six Pillars of a Trauma-Informed School
- Participate in monthly community of practice calls
- Embed trauma-informed practices into the culture of the school
- Update each component of the action plan created in year one
- Continue the data collection of year one
- Continue to update the action plan
- Receive tailored, need-based support based on peers and the department
- Continue the data collection
For more information on becoming a trauma-informed school, contact Kristi.Steel@tn.gov.