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Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists: Week 3 Reflections

So sometimes, we cry.

In week three of the Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists training, we focused on student behaviors that can be caused by trauma and how teaching artists can best support the needs of these students. While there is a lot to unpack about facing challenging behavior, the short version is:

  • First, handle yourself. You should have a “pause plan” to shift your perspective from being frustrated or insulted to being compassionate and concerned.
  • Next, build safety for the student by affirming their feelings and offering a physical activity to help them feel present like taking deep breaths together.
  • Then, give them a choice of what they do next which could include a break alone, talking to another teacher, or doing a different activity for a few minutes.
  • Finally, when they are calm is the moment to talk about what happened in a way that refocuses the student and expectations.

We were joined by this week’s guest artist, Josh Robinson (previously featured on a Bartol TA Spotlight), who shared his experiences helping people deal with grief through drumming. He gently touched the steel pan (that you see in the video) and there was a collective inhale as the unexpected soft echo of the notes filled the room. And yes, some cried. Then we created rhythms that built on words for what we missed about someone we had lost. We made music together and had our own small moment of healing.

Some of the teaching artists’ takeaways from this week’s session include:

  • Anchor rhythm to emotions.
  • Ask more caring questions when I see behavior that could be a sign of trauma impact.
  • The use of rhythm in a space with words, feelings, thoughts, and easily accessible ideas for anyone, but more specifically, for students.
  • Noticing space / incorporating self and group rhythm.
  • Trust can be built by creating.

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