Los Angeles: Teachers to get "extra training in how to help their students cope with trauma"

Jan 16, 2018, LA School Report: LA teachers step up interventions as students’ fears increasingly impede their ability to learn Throughout Los Angeles, the scope and intensity of students’ fears are greater this school year than ever before, teachers say. The possibility of their parents being deported, domestic violence, homelessness, racial tensions, and even fears of terrorist attacks are affecting children more than ever, according to administrators and teachers at both LA Unified district schools and independent charter schools. At KIPP LA, teachers saw that those fears were impeding so many students’ ability to learn, and school counselors could not keep up, that they asked for the tools so they could respond directly to their students’ increasing needs for social-emotional support. So starting this school year, teachers at 12 of the 14 KIPPcharter schools in Los Angeles have been getting extra training in how to help their students cope with trauma. … Studies have demonstrated a link between exposure to community violence and other traumatic events that trigger developmental challenges including decreased IQ and reading ability, lower grade-point averages and graduation rates, higher school absenteeism, increased expulsions and suspensions, and difficulty concentrating. “Some kids as young as our students in kindergarten come to school with high levels of stress and anxiety from home,” Tarver said. … Teachers at KIPP LA are being trained to identify and respond to trauma-related symptoms through the trauma-informed schools approach, which prepares them to recognize a child’s past experiences that can lead to disruptive behavior, difficulty engaging, or trouble learning. One of the newest techniques they have been incorporating is called “Calm Classroom.” Students from kindergarten to middle school are led each day by their teachers to breathe and relax two to three times during the school day for about 15 minutes, such as before starting a school period, after lunch, and before dismissal time. … The trauma-informed approach has been in place in LA Unified for almost 20 years, but the district is also starting to use the “calm classroom” practice at some elementary schools, which Escudero says looks something like yoga sessions. She also said it will also be introduced in middle schools and high schools. A handful have started to pilot the practice this year, including Gage Middle School, which has added a meditation time for students. She also noted an increase in suicidal behavior among students both locally and nationally. This month, LA Unified began an online mandatory suicide prevention training for all employees….