Trauma Doesn’t Stop at the School Door

My newest book with Columbia Teachers College Press and a sidequel to my book, Breakaway Learners, is now available for pre-order on Amazon and Columbia Teachers College Press.  Publication date is June 2020, in time for faculty and staff development and classroom use for Academic Year 2020 – 2021.

The title to this blog is the book’s title, and the book probes and offers suggestion for how to facilitate student success for those students PreK—College who have experienced trauma.  Real in the trenches suggestions at macro and micro levels, all grounded in their and empiricism.

The ebook is discounted at the TCPress site.  And TCPress will provide steep discounts for sales to groups or sales for events in which I participate, whether by SKYPE or ZOOM or FaceTime.  Reach out to me or Michael McGann at the Press.  I did a webinar from the Yes We Must Coalition on the book and it is available for a free download from their website.

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We Don’t Teach Educators Enough About Trauma

Hardly a week goes by without some trauma in the US.  Some events are nature made; some are human-made. There appear to be fewer and fewer “safe” places and spaces.  The usually “safe” places – schools, universities, churches, concert venues, public streets – are not safe. 

And, there is constant media coverage of whatever horrific event is going on, making their reach even broader.  There are also anniversaries of past traumatic events – from Sept. 11th or Kent State.  Both children and adults are affected, those who are at the events and those who know people at the events and those feeling the impact of the events from afar.

Add to these large “T” events, defined as big one point in time trauma, this reality: there are a growing number of young people who are experiencing small “t” trauma in their daily lives. These are young people exposed to drugs, shootings, parental or guardian or familial abuse, hunger, homelessness, and illness (one’s own and that of family members).  The exposure to these traumas change a child’s brain hard wiring and can affect their health and well-being through adulthood.  Yes, really.  And small “t” trauma is “big” in terms of its effect.

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Coronavirus, Trauma and Children

We read and hear about the coronavirus almost every minute of every day.

As an educator, I read about how educational institutions are preparing for the virus in the US; some student abroad programs are being cancelled. Student enrollment going forward will change as some students will struggle to gain access to the US. The role and use of online learning will take on new meaning and new dimensions, even among those who were reticent. One nation closed schools for a month.

As a person with expertise in trauma and its impact on students across the US educational pipeline (see: Trauma Doesn’t Stop at the School Door (TCPress June 2020 with pre-order), this virus and the threat of its spread has me worried. As I reflect on students, teachers and families, I know that prior trauma can be retriggered by new trauma. And the new trauma doesn’t have to be in our backyard. (Were I an economist, I’d be fretting about trade and the markets.) And teachers/professors will feel the impact of the virus even if the virus has not directly touched their community. It will touch their classrooms, dining halls, residential halls, athletic events, student centers and health facilities.

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Trauma and Adult Learners

We live in a world surrounded by trauma. There’s no doubt about it. 

The trauma comes from a myriad of sources including childhood adverse experiences, natural disasters and shootings in locations commonly considered safe.   The fact is that trauma produces symptoms.

While symptomology differs from person to person (even within the same family), it affects the capacity of individuals of all ages to learn and retain information.

Here’s why.

When a person experiences trauma, it affects their bodies and their brains. The immediate response to trauma is autonomic and when our nervous system is activated, we cease using the cognitive portions of our brain. We use our primitive brain to survive.  And, as we all know, we need our cognition to be operational because that is where most learning is enabled. 

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I Beg to Differ on How to Deal with Trauma “Anniversaries”

I have been focused of late on trauma and its profound effects on students across our educational system. Most recently, I have addressed how to think about trauma “anniversaries” and the complexities that are entailed in remembering and honoring and commemorating natural disasters and other unspeakable events like school shootings, suicides and deaths by overdose.

In particular, I have been thinking about the need to plan commemorative events because there are so many people affected and so many possible approaches that we need to reflect long and hard on how to do what is best for survivors. Whole communities are involved.

It is in this context that I read a piece published by the Viva Center, founded in 2010 and dedicated to addressing mental health. Here is the link to the article that made, in several words, my blood boil:

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Here Are 5 Things We Should Do To Improve the US Education System

An Interview with Penny Bauder (originally published on Medium)

As a part of my interview series about the things that should be done to improve the US educational system I had the pleasure to interview Karen Gross. Karen has taught and continues to teach across the educational pipeline. A former college president and Senior Advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, she currently serves as Senior Counsel to Widmeyer Communications, a Finn Partners Company, and as an Affiliate to the Penn Center for MSI’s at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. She blogs/writes for many education outlets including WPo, InsideHigherEd, Chronicle, Aspen Journal of Ideas, DiverseEducation, and MEDIUM.

Karen is the author of numerous children’s books, and her mission is to encourage imagination, creativity, and inspiration through humor and fun, all while learning. She is also the author of the adult book, Breakaway Learners: Strategies for Post-Secondary Success with At-Risk Students, which provides a pathway for improving the educational success of low income, first generation, minority students. In addition, she’s the author of the forthcoming book called Educating for Trauma: Educating for Student Success which will be published by Columbia Teachers College Press in 2020.

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What is Lasticity?

What does Lasticity actually Mean?

Tapestry by Mary Corey March

This book offers a new way of understanding and then narrowing this persistent and unacceptable achievement gap, through the development of a construct (replete with a new word that I hope will enter the lexicon) called “lasticity.” As a threshold matter, this approach puts its attention on both the breakaway students who succeed (not fail) and the institutions that serve them. It is a move away from our current “deficit” model for education.

Lasticity is a rich concept and process and descriptor that explains the remarkable capacities of breakaway students and the needed and oft-absent or unrecognized capacities of the institutions that serve them. It is rooted in reciprocity. Lasticity, as defined and described here, is grounded in psychology, neuroscience, sociology, education, trauma theory and moral philosophy.

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Prediction in Education for 2017: Powerful Protests

The views expressed herein are my own and do not represent the opinions of any institution or entity with whom I work.

Crystal balls seem to be in short supply these days. Every day is filled with the unexpected and then the following day offers up even more surprises (not all of them good). When pollsters get things all so wrong, making a prediction for the world of education in 2017 is like walking down a street filled with potholes (of which there are many). Stated simply, it is easy to stumble.

That all said, here is my prediction — and what is perhaps more important than what I offer up here is a discussion of how folks within and outside inside institutions will respond if the prediction proves right. In other words, with the prediction comes a reaction and response that is needed — and, therein lies the deeper and more complex challenge. And, I hope LINKEDIN will circle back in 2018 and see how well the predictions panned out.

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Is a Presidential Inauguration Political?

Note: The views expressed are my own and do not represent the positions of any organizations or colleges with whom I work.

The President of Talladega College, the oldest Historically Black College in Alabama, just asserted that a presidential inauguration is a “civil ceremony celebrating the transfer of power.” This stance is what enabled President Hawkins to decide ultimately that the College’s Marching Band, despite considerable dissent on and off campus, could perform at the upcoming Trump Inauguration. The event was, after all, non-political.

I beg to differ.

I understand the value of students participating in democratic events, seeing our government in action and the peaceful (one hopes) transition from one leader to another.

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