What is a Trauma-Informed School?
A trauma-informed school sets the context for growth and learning by cultivating a felt sense of safety, belonging, justice, and joy for all in its community.
- Acknowledge the damaging impact school has on historically marginalized people
- Acknowledge school structures induce trauma, perpetuate racism, and social inequities
- Recognize the unconscious power of survival systems in the brain and body
- Understand survival can look like aggression, manipulation, misbehavior, mental illness, emotional disturbance or disability, diminished academic gains, even poor employee performance
Trauma-informed schools therefore:
- Prioritize felt sense of safety and physiological state regulation
- Design and modify the physical environment to honor biological needs
- Hold space for cultivating community and collective synchrony
- Embody flexibility while balancing the need for predictability
- Empower and honor the members of its community
- Pursue equity, challenge internalized bias, and examine structures that perpetuate institutional racism
- Refine policies, procedures, practices, assumptions and habits to reflect a trauma-informed and equity-centered paradigm
Adapted from Dr. Bruce Perry’s Sequence of Engagement