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Students of Trauma

A Handbook for Classroom Teaching in an Environment of Suffering

Dan Shepherd

Students of Trauma: A Handbook for Classroom Teaching in an Environment of Suffering provides educators with real world strategies for working with students who have experienced trauma and who express that trauma through depression, aggression, anxiety, hyperactivity, and suspicion. This handbook, based on current educational research and on the experiences of actual teachers, provides practical guidance to individuals working in schools with hurting young people. What sets this handbook apart from other trauma-informed education texts is its emphasis on specific and direct actions and attitudes that teachers can take today to make a powerful difference in the lives of their most troubled students. Students of Trauma will be a helpful addition to the libraries of classroom teachers, their administrators, and those who train them.

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Chapter 1 Introduction

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When Thomas was twelve years old, his parents divorced. Yes, this is a pretty common, all too ordinary tragedy. Some children seem to easily recover and have lives comparable to students who did not experience this family trauma. Unfortunately, for reasons that even the best psychologists cannot fully explain, Thomas never did fully recover. Interestingly, though, he was able to “keep it together” for most of his life; staying married for decades, holding steady employment, raising a son to productive, independent adulthood. The trauma, though, was always there. The personal pain. The feelings of inadequacy, of loneliness, of meaninglessness. Hurt – unrelenting and severe – was always under the surface of Thomas’s life experience. His wife always knew that something was wrong, but Thomas never really spoke about it, never really let his pain out even to the person he loved most and had shared more than half his life with.

Again for reasons that remain unclear, Thomas started to unravel. He started drinking more and more. Previously, he could not have been described as an alcoholic; he maybe had one beer a week, but now, alcoholic would be the only word to describe him. He drank constantly and heavily. He also started spending time with individuals who were likely a bad influence and who certainly were not helpful for his healing. His ownership of a low income rental property brought him into contact with individuals who themselves were trying to restart a burdened life – addicts, past criminals, people on...

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