When I trained as a teacher a few years ago (well 15 to be exact) we had a small half day session on special needs & that was that. I did a little more as my first placement school had a significant number of children with Down’s Syndrome and I actually wrote an essay (with research & everything) on EBD (emotional & behavioural difficulties) within school.
Nothing prepared me for the after effects of trauma. No mention was ever given to these children. The first time I ever thought about it was in Feb 2009 when we did our prep course. I returned to school after that course and moved a pupil I had been having significnant issues with…from the front of the classroom (because she was unable to stop talking) to the back, the TA who was with me thought I had gone mad….but it worked, she did so much better. As it happened I was in the rare (for my school) position of knowing this particular child was a child in care.
And I want to write this in defence of all the teachers who have never considered the effects of trauma on a child, at the same time as shouting ‘JUST LISTEN’. It isn’t the teachers fault that they haven’t learnt about these issues, they are simply not told. But it becomes the teachers fault when they think they know better than the parents, than last year’s teachers, than social workers… And that is the problem that my boys have suffered from, and my friends children, and those Twitter friend’s children, and the pupils that go to the school at which I work who have suffered trauma.
And I want to make this clear, trauma comes in many, many forms. Yes, the children I am talking about on the whole are adopted or in care (because those are the circles I mix with) but what about those whose parent has died or who has seen an adult relationship break up in a unpleasant manner? What about those who no longer see a parent? Let me be clear, these children, these pupils are innocent bystanders to whom bad things have happened. It is not their fault. None of it.
Teacher to teacher I beg you. Don’t believe you know better, go out and become educated on the after effects of trauma. Work alongside parents, because they have to cope the pupil you send home. Listen when a social worker tells you something won’t work. I ask you please, think about those children in front of you and what they have been through; and give them some understanding.
I can’t speak as an adopted child, I can only speak as a parent of two. If you had been through what they had been through you too might struggle. And again, I ask, none of this ‘well they are with a loving, stable family now’ because truly that does not repair the damage that has been caused. If you have ever had anyone you are close to, die, does been somewhere different actually take your grief away? It does not matter what birth families have done, or not done, there is a primal belonging, if a child is removed that belonging does not go away, no matter what age they were.
Just think, just listen, just try to understand.