Toxic stress, school discipline, and unconditional love

Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85% « ACEs Too High.

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)
  • 50 expulsions
  • 600 written referrals

2010-2011 (After new approach)

  • 135 suspensions (days students were out of school)
  • 30 expulsions
  • 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?”

I want to learn how to do this.

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