Thank you, Katie Raver, for sending me this blog post about a principal at a high school for troubled kids who changed the approach to discipline — with amazing results.
Here are the numbers:
2009-2010 (Before new approach)
798 suspensions (days students were out of school)
600 written referrals
2010-2011 (After new approach)
135 suspensions (days students were out of school)
320 written referrals
It’s a long article with a lotta good info about chronic trauma and family problems and how they affect learning. It describes a measure of toxic stress called the ACE score.
The two simple rules for creating a school environment that doesn’t retraumatize already-traumatized kids:
Rule No. 1: Take nothing a raging kid says personally. Really. Act like a duck: let the words roll off your back like drops of water.
Rule No. 2: Don’t mirror the kid’s behavior. Take a deep breath. Wait for the storm to pass, and then ask something along the lines of: “Are you okay? Did something happen to you that’s bothering you? Do you want to talk about it?”