The Trauma of Poverty

Course Number: EDU 5515 C40
Instructor: Julia A. Erdelyi, M.A.
Location: Richmond Elementary School, 125 School Street, Richmond, VT
Dates and Times: Tuesdays-October 10, 24 November 7, 14, 28 December 5,12, 2017, January 9, April 3, 10, 2018 from 3:15 - 6:15 pm
Credits: 3 credits
Tuition: $1,420

Note: Please register directly with the Stern Center by calling (802) 878-2332. If you wish to take the course for Castleton credit, please notify Stern. Castleton registrations will be collected on the first day of class.

Course Description

Childhood poverty rates soared to new heights after the 2008 recession. The current figures show more than 15.5 million U.S. children living at or below the poverty line. Vermont’s childhood poverty levels are no less alarming. The Trauma of Poverty course explores impacts of high poverty on children focusing on their learning and social emotional development. Studying the impacts of poverty and high stress provides us with a new and very different lens to view many problems and experiences in classrooms. 

With an unprecedented rise of children in poverty, trauma and stress-related behaviors that create barriers to learning are predictable but have gone largely unrecognized in the daily life of many schools. For many children symptoms related to trauma and toxic stress levels are routinely misdiagnosed as behavioral issues and /or learning disabilities. Teachers and staff are often unprepared and untrained for the challenges that toxic-stress creates for an increasing number of children 

The Trauma of Poverty course focuses on defining, identifying and understanding poverty-related stress in childhood development, behavior and learning. Our goal is to help teachers and programs protect vulnerable learners and provide the knowledge and support needed to work with related challenges. The course is arranged thematically: 
• Module 1: Poverty and its impacts
• Module 2: Trauma, stress and the developing brain
• Module 3: Developing, evaluating and designing trauma-informed learning environments
• Module 4: Nurturing the nurturer 
• Module 5: Action Research Presentations.

Course Objectives

Course Goals: 
Participants will develop working understandings of 1) the extent of childhood poverty in Vermont and the US and the variety of relationships and connections between childhood poverty and trauma, 2) the potential impacts of adverse childhood events (ACE’s) and other traumas focusing on learning, behavior and child development, 3) how to develop and generate trauma-informed learning environments and practices and 4) self-care strategies for working with trauma in schools, and stress management strategies.

Course Objectives:
The primary objective is to help teachers and leaders to develop a trauma-informed lens and practice applying it to their experiences in classrooms. Participants will integrate emerging findings from psychology and brain research showing the impacts of poverty-related trauma on learning and behavior. Participants will apply their knowledge by developing and exploring what trauma-informed learning environments or practices apply to their schools. Participation is important as much of the applied section of our work will take place in discussions and/or case studies. Participants will develop self-care strategies and exercises that will provide grounding and support for teachers and others working in complex, sometimes stressful settings.

Required Texts

Required Readings/Texts are not included in the course tuition.
For All Participants: 
1) Perry B,and ‬Szalavitz, M. (2006),The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook--What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing; New York, NY, Basic Books
2) Downey, L. (2007), Calmer classrooms, a guide to working with traumatised children; Melbourne, Victoria, Austrailia, Child Safety Commissioner Available at: http://education.qld.gov.au/schools/healthy/pdfs/calmer-classrooms-guide.pdf


Required Readings/Texts for Graduate Students: 
1) Perry B,and ‬Szalavitz, M. (2006),The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook--What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing; New York, NY, Basic Books
2) Downey, L. (2007), Calmer classrooms, a guide to working with traumatised children; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Child Safety Commissioner Available at: http://education.qld.gov.au/schools/healthy/pdfs/calmer-classrooms-guide.pdf
3) Jensen, E. (2009), Teaching with Poverty in Mind, ASCD, Alexandria, Virginia
4) Glick, M. (2011) The Instructional Leader and the Brain: Using Neuroscience to Inform Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA. Corwin Press

Other Suggested Readings/Texts:
1) The Center for the Developing Child, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA 
2) National Child Traumatic Stress Network(http://www.nctsn.org/)
3) National Center for Trauma Informed Care: (http://www.samhsa.gov/nctic//) 
4) Massachusetts’s Helping Traumatized Children Learn (http://massadvocates.org) 
5) Washington State’s “The Heart of Learning and Teaching: Compassion, Resiliency, and Academic Success (http://www.K12.wa.us/CompassionateSchools/TheHeartofLearningandTeaching.pdf) 
6) Trauma Informed Organizational Self Assessment (http://www.familyhomelessness.org)
7) Van Der Kolk, B. 2015, The Body Keeps Score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma; New York, NY, Penguin Books
8) Colvin, G. (2010) Diffusing Disruptive Behavior in the Classroom, San Francisco, CA, Corwin Press.

For additional course information

Julia A. Erdelyi
(802) 878-2332

For additional registration information

Caitlin Niland
(802) 878-2332