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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 3 Aggression


Tyler, like Cliff who was mentioned earlier, was a few inches over six feet tall and weighed well over 200 pounds, perhaps even closer to 300, and he was only a freshman in high school. Tyler was a “gentle giant,” though. He had a wonderfully sweet spirit about him. In my class, he was invariably courteous, respectful, and gracious. He had a Southern lilt to his voice that just appealing; it said “I’m a nice guy, relaxed and laid back, and I just want to be your friend.” I always felt so tremendously bad for him as he squeezed himself into his already oversized desk; his belly rested on top of the writing surface. The next year, I would request tables for student teaming, but this year, I had desks, and Tyler didn’t fit, even in the larger desk I had gotten for him. Daily, he’d gasp and suck in air as he tried to push himself into a seated position. I noticed, and his peers noticed as well.

As you might imagine, his size and circumstances and demeanor invited the abuse of bullies and their cronies. One particular crony was braver than he was wise and was perhaps half of Tyler’s size. The bell had just rung to dismiss class, and as I always did, I went to the hallway to monitor the passing period. Tyler and the crony were coming my way. The crony was circling Tyler, mocking him, repeatedly and loudly, screeching in a high...

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