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Using PBIS to Develop Trauma-Sensitive Schools

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Presentation on theme: "Using PBIS to Develop Trauma-Sensitive Schools"— Presentation transcript:

1 Using PBIS to Develop Trauma-Sensitive Schools
Nic Dibble, MSW Education Consultant, School Social Work Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

2 Overview Childhood trauma & its prevalence
Trauma’s impact on development & learning Trauma-informed practice & trauma-sensitive schools Resources & professional development to support change efforts in schools

3 What is trauma? Trauma refers to extreme or chronic stress that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope & results in feeling vulnerable, helpless & afraid Can result from one event or a series of events Event(s) may be witnessed or experienced directly Experience is subjective Often interferes with relationships, self regulation, & fundamental beliefs about oneself, others & one’s place in the world Trauma is not the event(s) but rather the impact of the event(s) on the individual. The very same event(s) may impact different people very differently. Trauma may be simple (single event) or complex/developmental (series of events). Examples of simple trauma are a serious accident, a disaster (e.g., tornado, house fire), a physical or sexual assault, or a medical event (e.g., amputation). Examples of complex/developmental trauma are being a witness to domestic violence; physical, emotional or sexual abuse; neglect; homelessness; living in homes with family members with untreated mental illness or substance abuse; and having a family member in the military deployed overseas in a dangerous setting.

4 Do you have students with these experiences?
Simple trauma Serious accident Disaster (e.g., tornado, house fire) Physical or sexual assault Complex trauma Witness to domestic violence Physical, emotional or sexual abuse Neglect Homelessness Living in homes with family members with untreated mental illness or substance abuse Having a family member serving overseas in the military Historical/generational trauma

5 Prevalence of Trauma in Students
13 of every 30 students in a classroom experience toxic stress from 3 or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) In WI, 58% of adults reported having experienced at least 1 ACE in childhood & 14% experienced at least 4 ACEs. Reported ACEs in WI Study Emotional abuse – 29% Physical abuse – 17% Sexual abuse – 11% Violence between adults in household – 16% AODA in household – 27% Untreated mental illness in household – 16% Separation/divorce of parents – 21% Incarcerated household member – 6% Nationally, 1 in 4 children have witnessed violence and 1 in 10 have witnessed domestic violence. In Wisconsin in 2013 5,466 substantiated allegations of child abuse or neglect 6,516 in foster care (on ) In Wisconsin • One in seven high school students reported seriously considering suicide • Youth suicide rate is 40% higher than the national average • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth (first is accidents) The Washington State Family Policy Council is a state-level interagency council partnered with 42 local affiliates called Community Public Health and Safety Networks (Networks). A centerpiece of the Council's work is the translation of ACE study findings into education materials.  Source: Washington State Family Policy Council

6 Trauma & Brain Development
Typical Development Developmental Trauma Cognition Social/ Emotional Regulation Survival Cognition Social/ Emotional Regulation Survival The upper part of the brain is the prefrontal cortex. It regulates judgment, decision making, moral reasoning, planning, impulse control, cause & effect thinking, comprehension skills, information processing, self awareness and self esteem, delay of gratification, and many other functions that involve rational thinking. The lower part of the brain mobilizes the body for action (i.e., fight or flight response) when danger is perceived and overrides the upper part of the brain. When a child perceives or is on watch for danger persistently (i.e., constant state of “yellow alert”), this causes higher and prolonged levels of cortisol to be present in the bloodstream, resulting in toxic stress, and the prefrontal cortex may be underdeveloped. The result doesn’t just change brain functioning; it can actually change the brain structurally. The typical child spends little time focused on survival and can devote most of her/his waking time to cognition and social-emotional functioning. For a child who has experienced developmental trauma, the triangle can become inverted with the majority of the brain’s attention focused on survival, leaving little left for cognition. Adapted from Holt & Jordan, Ohio Dept. of Education

7 Trauma affects learning
Adversely affects ability to … Acquire language & communication skills Understand cause & effect Take another person’s perspective Attend to classroom instruction Regulate emotions Engage the curriculum Utilize executive functions Make plans Organize work Follow classroom rules The Heart of Learning & Teaching Compassion, Resiliency & Academic Success (Wolpow et al, 2009)

8 Trauma affects school performance
Lower scores on standardized achievement tests (Goodman et al, 2011) Substantial decrements in IQ, reading achievement & language (Delaney-Black et al, 2002) 2.5x more likely to be retained (Grevstad, 2007; Sanger et al, 2000; Shonk et al, 2001) Suspended & expelled more often (Grevstad, 2007; Sanger et al, 2000; Shonk et al, 2001) Daniel & Zarling (2012)

9 Trauma changes our physiology fight, flight or freeze response
Noticeable Effects Hidden Effects Brain prepares body for action Adrenaline released Blood pressure rises Liver releases glucose to provide energy for muscles Digestion slows or ceases Cortisol released (depresses immune system) Pupils dilate Mouth goes dry Muscles tense Heart pumps faster Breathing rate increases Chest pains Palpitations Perspiration Hyperventilation This slide highlights the common noticeable and hidden effects when the “fight, flight or freeze” reaction is activated. When a child/youth perceives danger, the lower parts of the brain override the prefrontal cortex and the body activates. The child/youth cannot access learning in this state, because the higher part of the brain (i.e., prefrontal cortex) is not accessible.

10 What if this bear walked into this room right now?
How are you feeling? What are you going to do? Flee? Fight? Freeze? Are you listening to the presentation? Critical learning – to many students impacted by trauma, adults are “bears” that are sometimes very dangerous This slide is intended to help the audience understand the level of arousal that students impacted by trauma may feel sometimes in the classroom. You want the audience to think about how they would feel and what they would do. If the presenter continued to talk, would they be listening?

11 Misreading cues During early development, children impacted by trauma spend much time in a low-level state of fear learning to read adults’ non-verbal cues to keep themselves safe Their survival depends upon knowing when an adult is a “dangerous bear” What may be innocent or neutral looks, actions, & touches from others at school are not interpreted by the student as benign It is difficult for the student to re-learn these cues as meaning different things in different environments Adapted from Chris Dunning

12 Impact on student’s view of world
Developmental Trauma Typical Development vs. The world is not safe People want to hurt me I am afraid No one will help me I am not good/smart/ worthy enough for people to care about me It will never get better I need to establish personal power & control I live in a predictable & benevolent world I am worthwhile I am hopeful & optimistic about my future I have the ability to impact & change my life How a student views the world greatly impacts how the student interprets her/his environment, including the behavior of the people in it. Overtures to help the student may not be understood as such by the student. Efforts by the student to exercise power are not intended to disrupt the classroom but rather to establish some personal control over his/her life. Trauma Informed Care

13 Higher baseline state of arousal
Students exposed to significant, on-going threat will "re-set" their baseline state of arousal such that even when no external threats or demands are present, they will be in a physiological state of persistent alarm (constant “yellow alert”) As external stressors are introduced (e.g., a complicated task at school, a disagreement with a peer), student is more likely to be "reactive" than peers Fight, flight, freeze Over-reading possibility of threat leads to lower brain functioning & impulsive acts e.g., striking out physically or verbally, leaving the classroom, shutting down Student views his/her actions as defensive & justified Adapted from Chris Dunning

14 Key Triggers for Students Impacted by Trauma
Lack of personal power or control Unexpected change Feeling threatened or attacked Feeling vulnerable or frightened Feeling shame Positive feelings or intimacy Triggers can be internal and/or external Trauma Informed Care

15 Trauma & behavior Behavior is the language of trauma, especially for children Most children lack the language skills to describe how they are feeling, so behavior is their expression Most expressive behaviors used by these children are considered “negative” Reactive, impulsive, aggressive, withdrawn, defiant Other behaviors – perfectionistic, lack of trust in adult & peer relationships Many of the most challenging behaviors are strategies that have helped the child to survive abusive or neglectful situations & have been generalized to other environments (e.g., school) Adapted from Chris Dunning The Heart of Learning & Teaching Compassion, Resiliency & Academic Success (Wolpow et al, 2009)

16 How do we see these students?
Uninformed view Trauma-informed view Anger management problems May have ADHD Choosing to act out & disrupt classroom (e.g., disrespectful or manipulative) Uncontrollable, destructive Non-responsive Uninformed response Student needs consequences or maybe an ADHD evaluation Adapted from Daniel & Zarling (2012) Maladaptive responses (in school setting) Seeking to get needs met Difficulty regulating emotions Lacking necessary skills Negative view of world (e.g., adults cannot be trusted) Trauma response was triggered Trauma-informed response Student needs to learn skills to regulate emotions & we need to provide support

17 The needed perspective shift
“What’s wrong with you?” “What happened to you & how can we help?” In order to understand and support students impacted by trauma, we need to change how we view them. We must stop seeing them as willfully acting out to disrupt the classroom or consciously refusing to engage with learning. Rather, we need see that their responses are adaptive patterns based upon their personal experiences and may be maladaptive in school, they are seeking to meet their needs, they have difficulty regulating emotions, they lack important skills to be successful in school, and they believe that adults cannot be trusted. Classroom supports and other interventions must address these issues. The intent is not to intrude into the student’s personal life but rather to understand the student’s behavior. A student may choose to share part or all of her/his personal history or not.

18 Teacher responses to student outburst
“Emma just transferred into my 5th grade classroom after being placed in foster care. I wanted to make her feel welcome. I moved to put my hand lightly on her shoulder when I was explaining an assignment & she slapped my hand away. Then she stared at me defiantly.” Teacher response #1 – teacher-centered Teacher response #2 – student-centered

19 Uninformed teacher response
“Why she just decided to slap me is beyond me. I was trying to be helpful & welcoming. Her reaction was totally out of proportion to the situation. Physical aggression simply cannot be tolerated or excused. She needed to learn that right away. There had to be immediate & significant consequences if I’m to maintain order in my classroom. When I tried to remove Emma to the office, she just lost it. Instead of complying, she chose to struggle & started kicking me. I don’t like to see students suspended from school, but Emma needs to learn that she cannot behave that way in school.”

20 Trauma-informed teacher response
“I must have frightened Emma without meaning to. It’s clear she does not want to be touched. She may have other triggers, as well. Right now she is hyper-aroused & feels cornered. If I put any extra demands or expectations on her right now, she could escalate & that will just make the situation worse. I told her we would talk about what just happened when she calms down. I need to help her feel safe or she won’t be able to learn in my classroom. I need to find out more about what her needs are, maybe from her school records or from her foster parents & the caseworker. If I need to, I’ll contact our Building Consultation Team for support.”

21 What can educators do to support students impacted by trauma?
Recognize that exposure to trauma occurs to many students, not just those in foster care Learn the signs & symptoms of child traumatic stress & how they manifest differently in different age groups Recognize that a student’s “bad” behavior is sometimes an adaptation to trauma Understand the impact of trauma in different developmental domains (cognitive, social, emotional) Adapted from Chris Dunning 21 21

22 Trauma-informed practice
The trauma-informed educator Can integrate understanding of how trauma impacts learning into planning for the student Understands her/his role in responding to student traumatic stress Grounds behavior management in student self-regulation, not compliance Adapted from Chris Dunning 22 22

23 Trauma-informed practice
The trauma-informed educator Creates a safe classroom & school Offers interventions that increase self worth Forms strong relationships to enhance sense of trust Emphasizes the relationship consequences of behaviors Helps student learn relationship skills Teaches student how to self-regulate emotions & restore sense of calm Adapted from Chris Dunning

24 Trauma-sensitive schools
recognize the prevalence & impact of traumatic occurrence in students’ lives & create a flexible framework that provides universal supports, is sensitive to the unique needs of students & is mindful of avoiding re-traumatization. Adapted from Helping Traumatized Children Learn This slide represents the needed cultural shift in a school and the need for systemic supports for students.

25 Why use the PBIS framework for trauma-sensitive schools
Why use the PBIS framework for trauma-sensitive schools? The fundamental purpose of PBIS is to make schools more effective & equitable learning environments Rob Horner, Co-Director of the OSEP Technical Assistance Center for PBIS Predictable Positive Rob Horner shared this information at the 2014 WI Conference. Consistent Safe

26 Wisconsin has chosen to build on the success of Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) to help schools become more trauma-sensitive. More than half of WI schools are implementing PBIS. PBIS and TSS are complementary when you consider the fundamental purpose of PBIS. The PBIS characteristics shared by Rob Horne align well with the 5 Trauma-Informed Values of Safety, Empowerment, Collaboration, Trust, & Choice. Department of Public Instruction Trauma-Sensitive Schools Resources

27 Using the PBIS Framework to Support Students’ Mental Health
Tier 3 Individualized services Case management Monitoring (e.g., Check & Connect) Coordination with community-based treatment Parent & caregiver training & support Tier 3 Comprehensive FBA & BIP 504 plans & IEPs Wrap-around programs Staff avoid “trauma triggers” Lethal means restriction Tier 2 Adult mentors SAIGs for SEL & CBT Community referrals Parent & caregiver education Monitoring (e.g., Check In – Check Out) Tier 2 Brief FBA & BIP Building Consultation Team Classroom supports Screening/SBIRT Pupil services accessible & approachable Staff awareness of higher-risk groups Tier 1 Instruction on SEL, mental health & suicide prevention Differentiated instruction Predictable routines Choices in learning activities Physical activity breaks Adults model emotional regulation “Calm zone” in classrooms Sensory opportunities to manage anxiety Tier 1 School policies promote safe climate Proactive behavior management Discipline system minimizes exclusion Comprehensive School Counseling Model School builds environmental assets Professional development Classroom consultation This slide shares examples of strategies to support students’ mental health at each of the three tiers. 27

28 What’s in the DPI toolkit?
Webcasts Understanding childhood trauma Steps to implementing trauma-sensitive practices in the school environment PowerPoint presentation with detailed speaker notes to use for a school building in-service Checklists Trauma-Sensitive Schools Checklist – may be re-administered over time to assess progress Review tool for school policies, procedures, protocols & documents

29 What’s in the DPI toolkit?
Trauma-informed practices for schools cross-referenced with key areas, strategies, & associated references FBA toolkit now revised to consider possible trauma history & be more collaborative with student Annotated list of resources Explanation of connection between PBIS & Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) Description of available training Links to national & Wisconsin ACEs studies

30 Professional development opportunity
Presently under development …. Multi-year professional development initiative to create trauma-sensitive schools School-based teams Primarily for schools implementing PBIS with fidelity at Tier 1 Possibility of accepting other schools with solid foundations in other frameworks (e.g., Tribes) Watch for more information in the future


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