Revisiting Trauma-Informed Care and The BLM Uprising in a June 2020 SSWNetwork LIveChat
Chat Transcript from June 3, 2020
We had a great conversation that day on SSWNetwork about ideas for a trauma-informed re-opening response for both the COVID-19 crisis and the BLM uprising that was happening around the country, and that is still challenging all of us as we head into 2021. For some additional further ideas on how to develop an antiracist school social work practice, see the following articles and strategies we’ve published on SSWN:
WORKING TOWARDS ANTI-RACIST SCHOOL MENTAL HEALTH PRACTICE
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 03, 2020
Michael Kelly11:00 amHi everyone, we’ll get started in just a minute…
Michael Kelly11:01 amAll right, welcome everyone to the Wed. LiveChat, I’m Michael Kelly, Loyola Prof, co-editor here, and Director of the SMHAPP certificate. Today we’re going to be digging into this policy brief on trauma-informed considerations for re-opening schools:Considerations-for-COVID-19-Trauma-Informed-Response.pdf
Michael Kelly11:02 amTake a look at it now if you haven’t yet, and in the meantime, let’s do a quick intro of where you are and how you’re doing today…
nicole rooney11:04 amHi – I’m a school social worker in Florida – first day of summer break for me
Annette Ramirez11:04 amHello
Pitou Ireland11:04 amHello from Pitou in sunny Colorado. Looking forward to today’s discussion.
Amy Messenger11:05 amHello, my name is Amy. I’m a school social worker in Providence, RI. I feeling pretty deflated and tired… I wish I could be with my students more then ever right now. School doesn’t get out for use until 6/18.
Michael Kelly11:05 amNicole, thank you for spending your first day of break with us!
Annette Ramirez11:05 amI am a school social worker in Cicero, Illinois.
Jody Kristoff11:05 amJody, from NW Indiana, checking in. I’m am feeling optimistic about the future, grateful for people coming together to promote equality!
Michael Kelly11:05 amAmy, thanks for saying that, I hear you. We’re going to get into the recent events as well as COVID and re-opening today.
Michael Kelly11:07 amAll right, looks like another fine group, let’s get into today’s work. First, the situation we’re all in right now related to the murder of George Floyd and many others by police, and the aftermath and uprising that’s happening.SECLUSION, RESTRAINTS, EBP, AND THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE: Revisiting Our First SSWNetwork LiveChat In This Time of Uprising For Black Lives – School Social Work
In this article, I’m re-posting our first-ever SSWNetwork LiveChat, co-led by two amazing school social workers, on their experiences working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, specifically around understanding how seclusion and restraints in some ways embody schools AS prisons for vulnerable youth, many of them black and brown students who have IEPs and/or attend special therapeutic schools in their home state of Illinois.
Michael Kelly11:08 amThis is an article we just published on SSWN today
Michael Kelly11:09 amDraws on the great work done by SMHAPP students Penny and Ryan on discussing seclusion and restraint practices in IL and how that feeds the school-to-prison pipeline, primarily for black and brown students.It was our first-ever LiveChat (from way back on December 7th, 2019, which feels like a long time ago right now to me)
Qualtrics sophisticated online survey software solutions make creating online surveys easy. Learn more about Research Suite and get a free account today.
Michael Kelly11:11 amWe are also actively seeking article idea submissions for SSWN on these topics and I wrote the following: “Submit article ideas about how you are responding to this multi-faceted crisis right now in our country, as many school years have ended or are coming to a close. Some potential directions your article ideas could go (just a partial list, feel free to suggest other ideas, too): examples of how you’re talking to your students this week about the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many other black and brown people by police; if your school is already out for the Summer, examples of how you and your school are planning to incorporate these serious issues further into your school re-opening plans for Fall; an examination of what having armed police in schools means for schools that claim to be trauma-informed; and finally, a personal reflection on your own lived experiences with systemic racism and white supremacy, either as a SSW of color or a white SSW who is struggling to figure out how to be an anti-racist practitioner.”
Michael Kelly11:12 amFinally, we published SSWAA’ statement of solidarity with BLM hereSSWAA Solidarity Statement With Black Lives Matter – School Social Work
As school social workers, we must all step into the discomfort of this conversation as this impacts every one of us when we serve children and teenagers in the schools. If we serve Black youth and other youth of color, we must be willing to assess where we are in our own journey of anti-racism.and there are some really good resources/references to explore further in looking at our own anti-racist practices.
Michael Kelly11:13 amSo that’s a lot coming at you quickly there, my apologies! 😁
Michael Kelly11:14 amSo before we get into the pdf I linked to re: TIC and re-opening, let me open the floor for the group to share how they’re doing today as we continue to see massive protests around the country–how are you doing, how are your teaching colleagues, students and families doing?
Michael Kelly11:15 amfloor is open…
Annette Ramirez11:15 amOur district social workers had a meeting yesterday morning via zoom on how to respond to the recent violence in our community.
Michael Kelly11:16 amI know you had posted as well on the network Annette.
Annette Ramirez11:16 amOur students are hearing sirens, gun fire, etc Since our last day is Friday we wanted something in place
Michael Kelly11:17 amDo you have a sense of what your plans are yet, Annette to share with us?
Annette Ramirez11:18 amAs of now were are working on a list of agencies in the community that are available via telehealth and we are putting together coping strategies.I feel like the district is looking to us for a plan
Michael Kelly11:19 amDo you have any questions for our group here/me that we might help you and your team with Annette?
Annette Ramirez11:19 amWe were asking for a scripted statement for teachers to use with their students
Michael Kelly11:21 amWhat do you all think, do you have any similar scripted stuff you could share, or suggestions for Annette to bring back to her team?
Annette Ramirez11:21 amFamilies are afraid and making plans to stay safe
Amy Messenger11:21 amI would love to have some insight and/or discussion related to those of us supporting youth at the high school level. Many of our adolescents are feeling particularly triggered by this period of undeniable racial unrest in this country. Additionally, young people are reaching out to us social workers/psychologists/support professionals about ways to take action and get involved in local protests. Obviously, we cannot explicitly advise students to join actions/protests during which they may be in harms way. But, we also cannot deny that our older students are beginning to enter roles in their communities that are more autonomous and based in personal agency.
At a time like this, counseling sessions and empathy-based therapeutic processing (“ I hear you…” “ That must be so hard for you…” type discussions) sometimes feel invalidating and out of touch to youth belonging to marginalized groups. Are there any resources folks can share that are particularly geared toward adolescents/young adults? Or could some of our more veteran providers on the high school level share how they are addressing students’ request to be connected to collectives of local activists?oops.. new to this lunchtime chat- I received that from a coworker asking for support
Amy Messenger11:22 amIf anyone has any thoughts/resources
Michael Kelly11:22 amI like this PDF you just shared Jody, cool stuff!
Annette Ramirez11:22 amThank you
Jody Kristoff11:22 amThe above link contains a framework from Dr. Lori Desautels.
Amy Messenger11:22 amthank you
Jody Kristoff11:23 amShe has a new book coming out this fall on positive approaches to discipline using TIC
Michael Kelly11:24 amThese are great topics, and really relate to the larger topic today as we consider re-opening, so let’s take them as we go. First to Jody’s info–I think it will be essential to encourage/challenge schools to closely examine how they do discipline and what their procedures are in the wake of both COVID & re-opening as well as this uprising time.
Pitou Ireland11:24 amThe National Center for PTSD has a link on tips for helping kids after a disaster
Michael Kelly11:25 amA major, complicated topic that I challenge you all to consider is whether we can claim to be a trauma-informed school in 2020 and have armed police walking our hallways, as there are in MANY American schools, especially in urban contexts.
Michael Kelly11:26 amPitou, I like that National Center’s stuff, thanks for that tip. If you have any specific links there you like, please put it in the chat today as we go…
Michael Kelly11:27 amTo Amy’s question re: youth and activism. I would honestly not worry a lot about guiding them: the Chicago youth activists I’m following right now on Twitter are finding each other through social media and are amazing in how well-organized and supportive they are–they are going to really transform this city.
Michael Kelly11:29 amThe larger clinical question I would have Amy that I would welcome the group to weigh in as well is how to explore this new facet of their work with you in this serious time. If I were in my middle school or high school practice years, I would spend a lot of time exploring what being an activist means to them right now. Why do they feel called to act? What does “acting” mean to them, to those that love them? What could be the risks of speaking out and possibly putting their bodies on the line (everything from increased risk of COVID exposure if they’re in a big group and/or get arrested to police brutality or other violence)?What do other people think?
Michael Kelly11:30 amAnd does what I just wrote there make sense to you, Amy?
Amy Messenger11:32 amYes it does, thank you.
nicole rooney11:32 amThose are the thoughts I have had when thinking about all of this – what’s the level of comprehension – how can they be safe
Michael Kelly11:32 amright, Nicole? They are still developing, and adolescents can think they’re invincible, but they also have a vital part of them that wants to change the world, too, and this world really needs changing imho.
Pitou Ireland11:33 amThose are good questions to ask a youth who would like to participate. I think also questions to ask a parent – would you let your child participate?
Jody Kristoff11:33 amYes, yes, makes a great deal of sense. Listening with empathy and compassion, along with creating a safe place to have these discussions is of utmost importance.
Michael Kelly11:35 amI agree Pitou–parents will need to be consulted by a youth that wants to take action, though that could be a fraught relationship that I would be cautious about wading into myself–we are seeing lots of families that are experiencing and viewing these recent events differently (along with their understandable concern for their kids’ safety).
Pitou Ireland11:35 amI would also like to ask to the youths what is your purpose, what is it you are trying to accomplish? I think that the youth want to be part of the protests but then what?
Pitou Ireland11:36 amYes, Michael, I am sure parents are ambivalent as to how to keep their child safe and yet allow them to experience history in the making.
Michael Kelly11:37 amFair stuff to explore with a young person–they might not fully understand what the ramifications are, or they might surprise us with how much they already know and are prepared to do to fight for justice right now. I always think of the Birmingham AL young people who went to jail en masse during the civil rights movement and how that in many ways was a turning point in that city–young people can be super-powerful.
Michael Kelly11:38 amWhat about Annette’s query about a script for teachers? I have thoughts on this but I’d be curious to know what ideas you already have Annette and what others think?
nicole rooney11:39 amI feel like scripts inform a message sometimes rather than contemplate the actual questions participants may have
Annette Ramirez11:41 amI just felt like it should be acknowledged and many families are not completing assignments because of the crisis situations and that should be understood
nicole rooney11:41 ami think guidance around ideas and organizational directions can be helpful to have real discussion but I know that leaves some loose ends that schools / admins may not be comfortable woth
Michael Kelly11:41 amI hear you Nicole on that–the challenge with a script is 1. it’s hard to get the info and tone right and 2. it can often feel forced, even when it’s not meant that way. My thought would be how can you coach and advise teachers with a broad outline of topics for them to just have a real conversation with their students.
Annette Ramirez11:42 amYes we asked for a statement from the administration since many teachers are asking what to say
Michael Kelly11:42 amAnd to your point about work completion–for sure, many kids and families were already overwhelmed and stressed by the pandemic, and now this situation–many families and kids I know are struggling to get through the day, period, right now.
Annette Ramirez11:42 amAnd becasue we have pre-k-8th grade
Jody Kristoff11:42 amI’m at the elementary level, and planned on offering classroom visits to read a story and conduct lessons. I was going to take a closer look at these resources:
Image description: Illustration from All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman. Children of various races and faiths pointing to locations on a world map.] If you’re nervous about talking about race with your kids, these books about racial diversity will give you an easy place to start destigmatizing difference & celebrating racial diversity.
Annette Ramirez11:43 amthank you
Michael Kelly11:43 amthanks Jody for that resource.
Michael Kelly11:44 amIs it okay if I shift gears in a minute to the Oregon PDF I shared?
Annette Ramirez11:44 amsure
Amy Messenger11:44 amYes of course
Michael Kelly11:44 amgreat thanks.
Pitou Ireland11:44 amExample script – I know we are under great stress. When people’s lives are disrupted this way, we all feel more scared, angry, full of rage. It is important to not make big decisions right now. A crisis time is not a great time to make changes, we have already experienced too many changes. Get yourself into a routine, complete your school work and also we can discuss the protests as we can.
Michael Kelly11:45 amIn addition to using the TIC principles to guide our work moving forward, it’s important
to keep these general TIC practices in mind.
● Support regulation – when stressed, people have a harder time managing
emotions and staying regulated. Build in time for regulation practices like
breathing, grounding exercises, and movement. Model the calm behavior you
want staff to mirror.
● Prioritize relationships. Social support and connection can actually buffer a
stress response. During times of stress, it’s important to find ways to connect
and support each other.
● Explain the why behind decisions. Understanding why something (like a policy
or practice) is happening can give people a sense of control and decrease a
● Help staff know what to expect to the extent possible. In uncertain times,
having any amount of certainty or predictability is helpful. We aren’t suggesting
that you provide answers that you don’t have; however, sharing information
when it’s available will decrease stress.
● Reframe behaviors. It’s important to remember that emotional regulation and
impulse control are more difficult during times of stress. People may not be
showing up as their best selves during this period of fear and chaos. We need to
give everyone grace and realize that challenging behaviors are a reflection of
the stress we are under. We need to all exercise patience and understanding.
Give people the benefit of the doubt.
Annette Ramirez11:45 amLove it
Michael Kelly11:45 amI just pasted a long-ish excerpt from the policy brief.In this chunk are a lot of the key components of trauma-informed care and how they might be playing out right now for those of us still in school, and for the rest of us as we head back in the Fall.
Michael Kelly11:46 amTake a minute and scroll through them, and if you could, please note the ones that seem particularly relevant to your school context right now.
Pitou Ireland11:49 amI appreciate the key components except explain the why. I don’t how we can explain the why when we don’t know the why. You know the saying “because I said so” that is how I interpret some of the explanations from the district administrators.
nicole rooney11:50 amBecause we are just beginning summer I think knowing what to expect is really relevant- everyone wants to know what we are going to see in August
Jody Kristoff11:50 amI feel every point is relevant, and needs to exist cohesively. I feel so much of this needs to be modeled to help keep the momentum going and growing.
nicole rooney11:51 ami was in a committee meeting to make SEL plan fortune district for our return to try to train and support teachers
Michael Kelly11:52 amgreat comments everybody–it’s very hard to model being trauma-informed as SSW and educators if we aren’t seeing it modeled to us as professionals from higher-ups. It’s also hard to be clear about what is going to “be” in August, as the public health experts I’m following on Twitter and elsewhere are unwilling to say anything definitive right now, other than that they fully expect there will be a “2nd Wave” of COVID based on previous pandemics.
Michael Kelly11:53 amThe question will be if the U.S. ever really finished the “1st Wave” to know when we’re in a 2nd wave or not, given how we’ve handled COVID so far.
Michael Kelly11:54 amSo I’m reluctant to give anybody homework at this time of year 🙁 but I’m wondering if people might be willing to take this policy brief to their school leaders/fellow SSW to see what they think, and how it might inform what they’re doing/planning?And then come back here on Friday and report out a bit?
Annette Ramirez11:54 amSure I can share it
nicole rooney11:55 amYes – I can do that
Michael Kelly11:56 amgreat! and when/if you do, make sure you also clarify to your colleagues that this is a doc that is grounded in arguably the most widely-used framework for Trauma-Informed Care–the SAMHSA guidelines (that’s the graphic at the top of our LiveChat today)
Amy Messenger11:56 amOn Monday I am joining a Zoom as part of the team to consult on SEL lessons upon our return to school. My thought was to use this document to help guide parts of that discussion. I can report out, but it wouldn’t be able to happen until next week.
Jody Kristoff11:57 amCan you share the link to the graphic, so I can add it?
Michael Kelly11:57 amNo problem, Amy, we can start the process Friday and keep going on it into next week too–our LiveChats are going through 6/12 for this cycle.
Amy Messenger11:57 amok
Jody Kristoff11:58 amTY, Professor Kelly!
Michael Kelly11:58 am
that’s the graphic I was referring to, btwSo good stuff everybody, thanks for being here and see you Friday!
nicole rooney11:59 am👍
Annette Ramirez11:59 amThanks!