Three weeks ago, the most unbelievable disaster occurred in our area. Fifteen tornadoes tore through the area. One was an EF-4 tornado that traveled 19 miles and had a width of 0.7 miles at it’s largest point. Another one was an EF-3 that traveled 10 miles.
One of the hardest hit areas was the town I have taught in for the past 19 years. We had 363 students who were displaced because of the tornado.
Two apartment complexes were condemned because of the damage that occurred. Another apartment building was ruined by a fire after the power came back on. Houses and vehicles were damaged. Some houses were destroyed. So much destruction.
When school begins in August, it’s going to be a different experience. Students will be not present. Simple procedures such as fire drills, tornado drills, and alarms will startle students. Some students will be suffering from PSTD. As educators, we need to be aware of this possibility.
Last week, I attended a trauma informed care professional development. Here are some take aways I took from this training.
#1 – Not everyone will process this trauma in the same way.
#2 – Some of the most important things to remember are sometimes a hug or a listening ear might be what a student needs in that moment.
#3 – It is NOT my job to counsel the students. I’m not trained to do that.
#4 – Students will go back and forth between re-experiencing the trauma to healing to recovery. And that’s okay. We all process trauma in different ways.
#5 – Our amygdala in our brain is the alarm system. When there is danger, it informs us so we can respond.
Meanwhile our hippocampas is our memory keeper. It’s sort of like a filing cabinet.
Some of those trauma memories from the amygdala has spilled into the hippocampus. Students might have flashbacks which is okay. We need to give them tools to help them regulate their feelings but not counsel them.
Also many students will have the freeze, flight, or fight mentality because of the trauma. Again not all students will process the trauma in the same way.
These are 5 of the take ways from the professional development.