RESPONSIVITY THROUGH MULTI-TIERED SYSTEMS OF SUPPORT IN A LINGUISTICALLY AND CULTURALLY DIVERSE SCHOOL: A TRAUMA-INFORMED APPROACH
1 Loyola Marymount University (UNITED STATES)
2 Pepperdine University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Educators in many high poverty schools in the U.S. are becoming increasingly aware of and responsive to the distinct needs of students and their families. Specifically, educators are recognizing the varied impacts of trauma on students--physically, emotionally and cognitively--where indeed these are intertwined. The ways in which these factors are related has become the focus of much medical and other research and is being understood and applied in educational settings, which extend beyond the school to the larger community. In the setting that is the focus on this study, many students and their parents are immigrants, fleeing violence, extreme poverty, or both. The majority of students speak Spanish or another language other than English as their primary language, but where English is the language of instruction. Educators grapple with how best to meet students' needs, where those include teaching rigorous grade level content standards in English, to students who are still in the process of acquiring English. While there is awareness of students' linguistic needs and effective pedagogical approaches to teach English as an additional language to English Learners, there is less understanding about how poverty, trauma and learning intersect. This study describes the ways in which one focal elementary school is attempting to address the multiple needs of students and families through a multi-pronged approach that includes targeted academic instruction, the adoption of school-wide values and behavioral expectations, a significant family-community outreach program with multiple components, and professional learning for educators, including in the area of trauma-informed schooling. These efforts are designed in part to provide continuity and stability, but due to students' academic achievement levels, the school is in "Needs Improvement" status, which allows for greater movement among students (who have the right to change schools as a result of the school's status) and less stability in the student population. In addition, attempts to maximize and target instruction for students in various areas such as math, reading, and English language, also result in greater movement during the school day, as students move to many different classes throughout the day and often for short periods of time. The authors share analyses and findings at both the macro and more micro levels in terms of policies, practices and interactions from data gathered through classroom and school event observations, focus groups, interviews with teachers, administrators and other support providers, questionnaires from school staff and parents, survey data from parents of English Learners as well as publicly available school level data. The authors share and describe the ways in which the school has attempted to address complex, multi-layered problems by compounding solutions to these problems through multiple tiers of support in a many pronged approach with the goal of creating spaces and contexts where students and their families succeed and indeed thrive. Finally, important “lessons learned” are shared as well as suggestions for further research.