There has to be a better way – that’s what many teachers realize when dealing with challenging behavior from students. Trauma specialists have begun production on a nationally-distributed training video for teachers, recording potential solutions to these issues. Students at two Francis Howell School District (FHSD) schools are getting the opportunity to participate by performing roles in the video. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get some face-time in a video, and also help teachers reach better solutions.
Heather Forbes, a licensed clinical social worker and author, specializes in working with kids who manage trauma (many resources are available at thetraumainformedschool.com). The video she is helping produce with students and teachers at Castlio Elementary and Francis Howell Central High School could be the key to helping students in crisis so they can focus on learning.
"Having a film crew in my classroom was a fantastic learning opportunity for my students,” said FHC drama teacher Cori Nelson. “The actors involved saw what a production company does and the backstage side to filming. It was an incredible chance for an acting student to see a possible career path." Students were able to role play some challenging behaviors that teachers and students experience in the classroom.
“There is an increase in the level of stress that kids are going through,” Forbes said, “in their families, in our culture, and in our world. What we’re seeing, especially in the younger grade levels, is that there is a high level of very challenging behaviors. It is different from what it was even five years ago. There is an increase in the intensity and the frequency of these behaviors.”
And that’s where the trauma training video comes in. Dr. Jerry Cox, a clinical psychologist and school district consultant for St. Charles County, knows what it means to teachers and students alike. Dr. Cox said, “We’re trying to help teachers better understand how kids who have had adversity in their life, how it impacts them in the classroom. If you can learn how to connect with those kids, to help them feel safe, you can also then help those kids be more emotionally-regulated, and therefore more available to learn.”
Senate Bill 638 was signed into law in June, and Dr. Cox is on the work group. “We’re trying to help all school districts become more trauma-informed in their practices,” he said, “because it’s tying back into our academic mission. We’ve been doing this in St. Charles County for about three or four years.”
“This has been so much fun,” Forbes said of working with the kids at the schools. “They are so involved in wanting to create a training program to help their teachers. They like the spin on it that they are now the ones teaching the teachers.”
While there may be no easy way to solve these common issues, FHSD, St. Charles County, and Heather Forbes are at least hoping they are recording some solutions.