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Supporting Students Experiencing Trauma



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Introduction 0:54

Understanding Trauma

Defining Trauma 2:27

The Trauma Spectrum 3:53

The Impact of Trauma 3:57

Recognizing Trauma in Your Students

General Signs of Trauma 2:17

School-Specific Trauma Reactions 3:57

Selecting Trauma-Informed Strategies

General Overview 3:11

Building Relationships 3:53

Effective Communication 5:29

Student Empowerment 3:18

Trauma and the Art Classroom

Predictable Classroom Environment 5:32

Positive Classroom Management Systems 2:51

Redirection and Warnings 6:08

Logical vs. Punitive Consequences 5:00

Trauma’s Impact on Educators

Challenges for Educators 1:20

Strategies for Thriving 3:51

Trauma Sensitive Art Activities

Art Activities That Support Self Regulation 2:21

Art Activities to Support SEL Learning 3:54

Responding to Art in a Trauma-Sensitive Way 1:23


Conclusion 1:10

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Supporting Students Experiencing Trauma

3 PD Hours

  • 1 Identify the signs and symptoms of trauma in students.

  • 2 Organize a trauma-sensitive classroom environment and management system.

  • 3 Develop effective communication strategies and classroom activities to support students who have experienced trauma.

Trauma responses are playing an increasing role in the everyday behaviors of K–12 art students. Helping these students find success within our art programs requires adjusting our instructional practices to meet their needs. In this PRO Learning Pack, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional Chris Cusak will broaden your understanding of trauma. She will explain how to recognize possible signs of trauma in your students and explore specific trauma-informed strategies that you can immediately implement in your art classroom.

Connected K-12 Art Educator Framework Competencies

10. Expectations
A. Creates and communicates clear expectations and consequences
B. Creates and communicates clear routines and procedures
11. Relationship Building
A. Builds rapport and positive relationships with students
B. Creates and maintains an environment of respect

Chris Cusack

Chris Cusack

School Social Worker and Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Christine Cusack works full-time as an elementary school social worker in the near west suburbs of Chicago. She has a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Northeastern Illinois University, a master's degree in Social Work (clinical concentration) from The University of Chicago, and an education specialist (EdS) degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) from National Louis University. She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP), and provides clinical supervision to social workers working towards their clinical license. Chris also has experience in adult inpatient behavioral health. Many children face obstacles and barriers to their success; as a school social worker, she dedicates herself to removing those barriers so that every student can maximize their potential. Her combined social work and behavior analysis training gives her a unique lens through which to view behavior and provide social-emotional and behavioral support to students, parents, and educators.


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