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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 2 Depression


Janie was a co-worker of mine at the urban high school where I taught English for a short period. She was very skilled at her job, clearly committed to its ideals, but eager to retire early. I could not see why, before her time, she was so excited to give up such meaningful work, work that she excelled at. Others regularly sought her advice for their own improvement; she clearly had more to give. I asked her about it. We were friends, we had worked closely together for a number of years, but she paused in her reply. She hesitated a long time before answering. Finally, she spoke and quietly said, “Dan, I have been deeply depressed for over 30 years. I take all the medications, I have gone to counseling for decades, I’ve been hospitalized, and I’ve even tried some experimental therapies, but nothing seems to have any effect. My world is so dark and bleak that I just cannot face this anymore.” I never knew. Caught off guard by her frankness and by its unexpectedness, I mumbled something inane, and we parted. Janie had previously shared with me about her own childhood – one of poverty and parental drunkenness and gambling, one where she had to assume leadership for her siblings long before any child should. She had carried the burden of “adulting” for as many as forty of her fifty years, and the far too early challenges had nearly broken her. In her case, this lifelong trauma expressed...

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