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Trauma-Informed Classrooms

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The impact of students’ life experiences on their behavior has garnered increasing attention as schools strive to develop more supportive academic environments that address the needs of at-risk youth and facilitate continued academic engagement. Few events outside the classroom have as profound an impact on multiple domains of student development as traumatic life experiences. Traumatic events can include domestic violence, abused and neglect, school violence, loss of loved ones, and community violence, just to name a few. The range of student responses to trauma can vary from yelling to isolation. Students who have experienced trauma often have a distorted perception of the world and sense of not being safe. Creating an environment that fosters resilience and offers support to students who may experience a traumatic life event can potentially prevent unwanted disruptive behaviors in the classroom. This technical assistance bulletin provides a basic understanding of the impact of trauma and adverse life experiences, how those experiences can impact behavior in the classroom, learning how to recognize trauma, and strategies for creating trauma-informed classrooms.