Helping teachers learn to recognize trauma among their students is having a positive impact on students and their families.
In Kristin Portis’ classroom at Franklin School there is a row of cups. Each cup is for a different mood. Each child has a Popsicle stick with their name on it. When they come in to class in the morning, they place the Popsicle stick inside the cup which represents their mood.
“If I notice that kids are mad or upset, I will pull them aside one by one first thing in the morning and have a conversation with them about their feelings, so they can express their emotions,” Portis said.“We get on a personal level and build relationships, so they know we’re not just teachers. We’re also people that care about them.”
In Central Illinois, six schools are part of a pilot project which helps teachers, administrators, and all adults working with kids to be trauma-informed. When children are affected by trauma, their brains develop differently from those who have not had to deal with trauma.
“It’s not just one incident,” said Franklin School Principal Stephanie Strang. “It’s a series of incidents. We’re all trying to get our minds around it. It’s complicated.”