A statewide trauma training summit for teachers took place on Monday. An estimated 10,000 teachers attended. The goal was to better understand the needs of students who have experienced trauma in their lives.
The Oklahoma Department of Education hosted the event at the Cox Convention Center.
“We really want teachers to understand how trauma affects the brain and how it affects learning,” said State Superintendent of Education Joy Hofmeister.
Research shows that violence in a home can stimulate a child’s brain causing behaviors often interpreted as being disruptive. Hofmeister said that was one of the main reasons for the summit.
“Teachers saying there is disorder, saying we have discipline issues. I feel unsafe in classrooms, we have children that are disengaged. It's really been in the last few years that we've really focused on why," said Hofmeister.
Dr. Bruce Perry, an internationally renowned expert on childhood trauma was the featured guest. He said feeling left out in a classroom can impact the behavior of a child in the classroom.
"By creating that relationally respectful environment and safe environment it makes it not only a better learning environment it really helps some heal," said Perry.
Perry also said that one of the best tools a teacher can incorporate in the classroom is rhythm.
"When you think of preschool, they learn the alphabet with a song, ABCDEFG,” Dr. Perry said singing the song. “But when kids grow older, we take rhythm out of the classroom. However, we have seen that when you reintroduce it kids learn better."
Perry added that a child who has suffered trauma earlier in their lives has a greater chance of experiencing physical, mental and emotional problems later in life.