RESOURCES FOR PRINCIPALS
PRINCIPALS PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN HELPING
STUDENTS AND TEACHERS COPE WITH A MAJOR DISASTER
"I REALIZE THAT MY TEACHERS & STUDENTS ARE VERY STRESSED BECAUSE OF THE DISASTER. WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP THEM?"
STEP 1 MANAGE YOUR STRESS
By being calm yourself you will model calmness for the entire school community
Watch this 12 minute video on Dr. Peter DeWitt's survey of stress experienced by school leaders during the Covid 19 pandemic.
"Of all the professions in the helping fields, school administrators may have the highest stress and burnout rates. All over the world, principals are facing unprecedented levels of accountability pressure and other stressors."
"Let’s face it: Stress is part of the job of a school leader. How can principals and other leaders manage the stress so they can be resilient and effective? We asked five experts to share their advice."
"school leadership matters, but it is one of the most demanding jobs in the professional world. So demanding that, according to their research findings, 42% of school leaders surveyed indicated a desire to leave the profession."
Watch this 12 minute presentation on how principals can lower their stress
"Increasingly placed under scrutiny, school administrators are under unprecedented pressure. They must work in dynamic, rapidly changing environments and are expected to adapt while remaining composed and positive. School administrators are expected to understand and work harmoniously with all stakeholders. According to Byrne-Jime ́nez and Orr (2012), school administrators are required to ‘operate in multiple dimensions at once, moving from individual capacity to group empowerment, to whole school improvement and back again’ (p. 33). Many school administrators are exhausted from their job demands (Cushing, Kerrins and Johnstone, 2003; Oplatka, 2017; Rileyand Langan-Fox, 2013)."
STEP 2 HELP YOUR TEACHERS AND STAFF TO LOWER THEIR STRESS
If teachers and staff are calm, this benefits students.
Read this article on how principals in New Zealand schools helped their students and teachers following an earthquake.
"Natural disasters can happen at any time. The impact they have on students, their families and the teachers relies on strategic and calm leadership by school principals. As schools are situated within communities, principals not only have a role leading within the school, they are also viewed as community leaders. This paper focuses on six New Zealand primary school principals and their experiences and responses during and after the Christchurch earthquakes....The principals displayed qualities of moral courage and actively worked towards improving learning conditions for students. They supported the students and teachers within their schools who were showing symptoms of post-traumatic after effects. Also, the principals provided leadership in a variety of ways in the wider community."
STEP 3 IMPLEMENT
STRESS REDUCTION APPROACH
This could take many forms:
a single stress-reduction approach, such as Deep Breathing or Meditation, or a comprehensive approach such as developing a Trauma Sensitive School.
Watch this 2 minute video in which a principal describes how a meditation program benefitted his school.
"Schools need reliable evidence about the outcomes of meditation programs before they consider if and how such programmes can influence learning agendas, curriculum and timetables. This paper reviewed evidence from 15 peer-reviewed studies of school meditation programmes with respect to three student outcomes: well-being, social competence and academic achievement. In total, there were 76 results where effect sizes could be calculated. The overall number of participants in the effect size analyses was 1,797. Of the 76 effect sizes calculated, 61 % were statistically significant. Sixty-seven per cent of the results had small effects on student outcomes, 24 % of the results had medium effect strength and 9 % showed a large effect of meditation upon student outcomes."
“We’re not just teaching kids to use the skills and tools, but we also teach them to be teachers,” said executive director Ali Smith. “Because they’re more likely to take the skills home and teach the parents, to teach people in their community, and that’s how we’ve seen the biggest change we made.”
Watch this 4 minute video by pediatric psychologist, Dr. Jill West from Ochsner Hospital for Children, showing an effective way adults can teach children to lower their stress by using Deep Breathing.
Cherokee Point Elementary School Principal Godwin Higa explains the effects of childhood trauma on students and the compassion-based philosophy the San Diego school has embraced to help build resilience in the face of adversity.
"...a meta-analysis of 213 school-based SEL programs strongly demonstrated that effective SEL programming can be achieved by utilizing only current school personnel and that it can be woven into the existing school-day curriculum..."
"Prior to the implementation of this approach, Lincoln High School had 798 suspensions, 50 expulsions, and 600 office disciplinereferrals in one school year (Stevens, 2012; Walla Walla Public Schools,2013). One year after existing school personnel implemented a trauma-sensitive approach within the regular school-day curriculum, there wereonly 135 suspensions and 30 expulsions (Stevens, 2012). Within fiveyears, the number of office discipline referrals decreased to 95 (WallaWalla Public Schools, 2013)."
"Schools are searching for innovative ways to meet the unique academic, social—emotional, and behavioral needs of adolescents, many of whom face serious personal and family challenges. An innovative practice that is currently being introduced into school settings is meditation. Types of meditation offered in school-based settings include mindfulness meditation, the relaxation response, and Transcendental Meditation. These practices, as cognitive-behavioral interventions that are available for use by social workers and other school professionals, help students to enhance academic and psychosocial strengths and improve self-regulation capacities and coping abilities."
"Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE for Teachers) is a mindfulness-based professional development program designed to promote teachers’ social and emotional competence and improve the quality of classroom interactions. The efficacy of the program was assessed using a cluster randomized trial design involving 36 urban elementary schools and 224 teachers. Analyses showed that CARE for Teachers had statistically significant direct positive effects on adaptive emotion regulation, mindfulness, psychological distress, and time urgency. CARE for Teachers also had a statistically significant positive effect on the emotional support domain of the CLASS. The present findings indicate that CARE for Teachers is an effective professional development both for promoting teachers’ social and emotional competence and increasing the quality of their classroom interactions."
Read this article on how principals can use the Trauma Informed Teaching approach to help students cope with stress and trauma.
Here is a useful guide for principals wishing to develop a Trauma-Sensitive School