February 2020 TIC Tip of the Month

As we enter the stretch of the school year between winter and spring, students may exhibit behaviors anytime of the school year that may cause educators concern, frustration and prevent curriculum delivery. Many of our students experience ongoing stressors, such as trauma exposure. The exposure to trauma may impact the student in various ways, including their brain and behaviors. Use a trauma-informed lens to view the behaviors as an opportunity to learn about the student, and as a result, provide appropriate interventions, that intervene and change behaviors. When student’s exhibit behaviors, the educator’s first priority is to stay calm, not react and not take the student’s behaviors personally. In situations when student’s exhibit negative behaviors, it is best to calm yourself with a deep breath and think, “do not take this personally”, “stay calm”. Furthermore, view the behavior like a scientist. It is best to observe the student’s behavior and ask what the behavior is communicating. Behavior is a form of communication. The following chart includes what flight, fight or freeze looks like in a school.

Withdrawing Acting out Exhibiting numbness
Skip classAggressive behaviorRefusing to answer
Daydreaming Defiance Refusing to get needs met
Avoiding others Screaming, arguing Give a blank look
Hiding or wandering Throwing things Feeling unable to move or act

Sours and Hall, 2017

Student’s may be acting like kids. However, often behaviors are caused by the lack of social or self-regulation skills and/or communicating there is more under the behaviors than meets the eye. Chart Citation: Sours and Hall, (2017). Fostering Resilient Learners.