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Elgin, IL: District staff told "behavioral issues in students can stem from difficulties [at] home"

April 2, 2018, Chicago Daily Herald: U-46 studying how trauma affects students, revising teaching approach http://www.dailyherald.com/news/20180402/u-46-studying-how-trauma-affects-students-revising-teaching-approach Behavioral issues in students can stem from a plethora of difficulties in their home and family lives, aside from the stresses of school. That's why Elgin Area School District U-46 is studying how trauma affects students and is training teachers and employees at five schools on providing trauma-informed care. … A trauma-informed approach is based on research about Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, which suggests a high number of traumatic life experiences, such as poverty, abuse, neglect, divorce, mental illness, incarceration or loss of a parent, severely affects students' ability to grow academically, said John Heiderscheidt, U-46 director of school safety and culture. Officials estimate roughly 30 percent of U-46 students are experiencing multiple ACEs and dealing with such children is "exhausting teachers" who suffer from compassion fatigue. "We are having trouble with growth as an organization, as a country," Heiderscheidt said. "Kids in toxic stress are operating in fight, flight or fear mode." … That doesn't mean misbehaving students get a pass, but with training, teachers can be better equipped to understand and meet their social-emotional needs, he added. "We hold them accountable. But trauma-informed care is really helping us understand on a more holistic basis on what's going on in their lives," Heiderscheidt said. "The first stages are awareness and training and what our purpose is as a community-based agency. Our goal is to become trauma-informed communities." … Teachers at these schools voluntarily are engaging in trauma care training, but the district's goal eventually is to train all employees through the resiliency teams…. Teachers are learning to respond and address what's happening in students' lives to cause agitation. They conduct mindfulness activities, such as breathing exercises and other meditative practices, to help students focus better and self-regulate emotionally. Mindfulness of the five senses also is reinforced during classroom instruction on core subjects. …