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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 8 Conclusion


If this book could be tossed in a dryer metaphorically and shrunk down to one simple sentence, that sentence would simply read, “Treat students like people you really care about.” When our own children come running to us with a scraped knee, we don’t respond the way some teachers sometimes do. We don’t say, “Thanks for sharing, Tomas. Now please return to your assigned area.” We don’t say, “Can we discuss this at recess? Right now, we’re studying this historical event.” We don’t say, “If that’s not on the upcoming standardized test, neither of us have time for it.” Instead, we say, “Oh, sweetie, let’s go inside and clean that up. Maybe a kiss will make it feel better.” Then, once inside, we focus everything we’ve got on cleaning and covering his or her wound, and we listen with rapt attention as our precious child tells us the whole story of hitting a stick in the street and falling off the skateboard. When a student of trauma is in our classroom, we bear a responsibility – a sacred responsibility – to be as empathetic to his or hers needs as we are to our own cherished children.

Often, in our busyness to complete non-instructional tasks and in our stress over the ultimately worthless things that outsiders place upon us like higher standardized test scores or covering the mandated curriculum, we neglect to devote sufficient time or attention or passion to what has lasting value, to what ultimately matters – a student...

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