Thirty years ago, I began my career in education and have served in about every position possible from a teacher to a superintendent. These experiences have allowed me to observe over a long period of time the many changes impacting our work in schools. One of the most significant changes involves the students walking through our doors. As wonderful and amazing as they are, many of our students are experiencing more and more mental health issues, and we are simply not prepared to meet their needs. I was brought up in the love and logic system of behavioral intervention and asked questions such as “Was that a good choice?” or “How do you think that made them feel?” While that cognitive approach still works for many students, it simply has no benefit to the plethora of children with significant needs.
In order to address this need, many school administrators are developing or implementing plans to support student mental health. While extremely important, many interventions are focused at the Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels without much focus on Tier 1. Therefore, we are missing the opportunity to be proactive in supporting the long-term mental health needs of all students. To provide the most loving support that children need, all staff members must be retooled. Understanding that “those” kids are ALL of OUR kids and should be supported by every school adult they encounter is essential.
When you learn more about the impact of trauma on childhood development, and how their brains become hard-wired due to their adverse child experiences, you will understand that it is not a child’s fault when they exhibit extreme behaviors. Of course it is their responsibility when behavior greatly disrupts the education and even the safety of their peers; however, it is also ALL of our responsibility to help children learn to use their voice and strategies to better regulate their own behaviors. By equipping our teachers and staff with a common language, strategies, and support, we can empower them to help meet the significant needs of our students. Teachers and staff need a common language, strategies, and support to help meet the significant needs of our students.
Multiple approaches exist to address a quality Tier 1 mental health support system, and most of them require an understanding of how Adverse Childhood Experiences (trauma) impact student behavior. For me, the best way to understand that paradigm shift was by participating in training regarding Trust Based Relational Intervention training. While I gained knowledge regarding the neuroscience of childhood adversity, TBRI provided me with a comprehensive approach to build resiliency in our students. I now have a completely new mindset on how to approach students who display extreme or otherwise challenging behaviors.
At Mt Vernon Community School Corporation, we are hosting Amy Abell and Alli Chance for a 1-day intensive training for school leaders. By design, participants will walk away with information that they can use right away when conversations develop around this subject in our schools. Amy Abell shares:
After this one day experience, school administrators and their accompanying team leaders will understand the needs of their most struggling students on a much deeper level. Not only will attendees leave feeling more equipped by their new perspective, they will walk away with a renewed sense of hope and compassion for even the most difficult students.
I encourage everyone to participate in Spark Hope: A One Day TBRI Experience for Administrators and other school leaders. Like me, you may be changed forever.
Click Here for more information and for links to Registration.