K–12 Trauma-Informed Resources for Coping with Tragedy & Loss

By: Leila Nuland, PhD

In the wake of the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, K–12 educators are under more pressure to provide trauma-informed support to students, families, and staff. Here are resources to assist K–12 leaders and educators in their response to trauma and their support of their communities.  

“Behavior is the language of trauma. Children will show you before they tell you that they are in distress.” 

—Micere Keels, founding director of the Trauma Responsive Educational Practices Project; associate professor of comparative human development at the University of Chicago 

There are few things more heart-rending than watching our children face trauma and few endeavors more important than finding ways to guide them through it and point them in the direction of hope. 

Every generation of children faces its own crises and cataclysms — events that often shape and color their memories of childhood and their outlook on the world as a whole. But it’s impossible not to feel that today’s K–12 students are growing up in a particularly complex reality, one that often outstrips its generational predecessors when it comes to trauma, risk, and fear. Never is that clearer than in the aftermath of tragedies like what we saw unfold on May 24, 2022, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.  

Between the pandemic, increased politicization of education, and heightened urgency around diversity, equity, and inclusion, school districts around the nation were already struggling to effectively guide and support their students, faculty, and communities amidst trauma and discord. Now, reeling from the tragedy of yet another horrific shooting, those same districts find themselves trying to provide additional emotional care and trauma-informed support to students, families, and staff as they grapple with the sadness and fear that naturally follows such a senseless act of violence.

Hanover Research is committed to helping the K–12 education community as they work to develop safe, caring, trauma-sensitive school environments around the nation. With that in mind, we’re providing the following resources available on demand — with no subscription, sign-up or log-in requirements — to help guide and inform your efforts to support your communities in the midst of tragedy.

Trauma-informed resources to help students and families in your K–12 school district

  • Learning Loss Through Traumatic Events. Although developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this report provides relevant resources for understanding the impacts of psychological trauma on students and how districts can implement and promote trauma-informed practices in schools. 
  • Student Anxiety and Mental Health. This report discusses the nature of adolescent anxiety, screening mechanisms, various mental health service delivery models, and universal supports and targeted interventions to improve student well-being. 
  • Best Practices for Trauma-Informed Instruction. These best practices provide classroom-based strategies for identifying, supporting, and instructing students experiencing trauma. 

Trauma-informed resources for supporting teachers, staff, and counselors

For K–12 students and stakeholders, this is a time for honesty, healing, and hope

As part of Hanover’s K–12 practice, I am constantly in awe of the work being done by educators around the nation and of the selfless dedication and compassion they demonstrate every day. Many of us at Hanover are former educators ourselves, and many more of us have our own children whom we send to school each day. And so, our hearts go out to our peers, colleagues, friends, and families who find themselves not only trying to support and protect young students, but also trying to navigate their own fear, anxiety, and heartache.  

At times like these, it’s critical that district- and school-level leadership provide a safe, supportive environment for engaging in honest discussion and promoting healing, not only for students and staff, but also for their broader communities. Now, more than ever, it’s critical that we listen, speak, and empathize with one another as we grapple with the enormity of recent events and how they affect everyone, especially our children.  

We’re sincere when we say to please reach out if you need assistance or have any questions. We at Hanover are here to support you — and the communities that rely on you — in any way that we can.

 

— Leila Nuland, PhD, Managing Content Director, Hanover Research

K-12 students need trauma-informed support amid recent school shootings and other threats to school safety

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