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.

Trauma-informed schools:

  • 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

Adapted from Dr. Bruce Perry’s Sequence of Engagement

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