A Teacher Policy Team made up of 18 Chicago public school teachers met between January and March of 2017 to discuss and research the impacts of trauma on students’ development, attitudes, and behavior in schools. Their experiences, verified by research, showed that traumatized students have a harder time succeeding in the classroom and being generally happy individuals. The Teacher Policy Team formulated a report including recommendations aimed at improve school climate and culture across the district.
Excerpt from Educators for Excellence Article:
As teachers, we know that the obstacles our students face at home do not stay there; they follow students into the classroom and, if not acknowledged and addressed, can harm their capacity to learn and negatively impact the climate and culture of our schools. At the same time, we also know that our students are bursting with curiosity and intelligence; It is our job as teachers to ensure that each and every one of them is able to rise to their full potential.
The Teacher Policy Team identified as “most vital” to the success of Chicago classrooms: social-emotional learning, trauma-informed schools, and restorative justice, and then suggested ways to overcome challenges and capitalize on teachers and students’ strengths. The report consisted of a plan aimed at strengthening the climate and culture of schools through addressing the trauma impacting students’ social and emotional health, as well as assuaging punitive disciplinary policies and practices in the schools which were unfairly punishing and dismissing kids who needed support. The report was designed for district and administrative school leaders, but was created by teachers according to their experiences and the perspectives provided by members in the Chicago community.
Educators for Excellence (June 2017). “Sounding the Alarm: Building the Climate and Culture Our Schools Need.” https://e4e.org/what-we-do/policy-solutions/sounding-alarm.