In early October I had the pleasure of presenting with my friend and colleague Jen Goepfert at the Minnesota Association of School Administrators conference in Duluth. Our topic was on Secondary Traumatic Stress and educators – specifically addressing how STS impacts teachers and strategies administrators can use to help support them.
Jen has about twenty years of experience working with schools as a teacher and now an education coach. Check out the incredible work she does to promote more equitable and inclusive schools.
Teachers are regularly exposed to the trauma and struggles their students experience, whether that is racism, abuse or neglect from caregivers, bullying, or poverty, to name a few. Teachers may not be the first group of professionals you think of when considering work-related trauma, but their care and compassion for their students paired with trauma exposure can result in Provider Trauma.
As with other professions, there initially was a push to better understand and address the trauma students experience without the concurrent push to understand and support how educators are impacted by the students’ trauma they manage in the course of their daily work.
Part of our prep for the conference was finding resources for support for teachers. Jen quickly found one that blew me away, from an organization called STAT, or Support for Teachers Affected by Trauma. STAT provides an online course that explains what Secondary Traumatic Stress is and how to recognize it, self-care strategies, and assessment tools. Although it is geared toward K-12 teachers, the online course is thorough, accessible, and free to anyone, teacher or not.
I strongly recommend taking advantage of this resource and sharing it widely. As I took the training, I admit I had some “feelings” about it, as we say in my industry. Specifically, I was annoyed that there isn’t already an excellent, free training like this available and geared toward mental health providers.
After all, we’ve been talking about the impact of trauma exposure on professionals longer than educators. Why are we behind? (Easily another blog topic.) When I told Jen about my annoyance, she reminded me that the STAT training does what educators know how to do – teach. It’s natural that this group of professionals would pull together a training tool for each other. That is true, and lucky for us we can all benefit from their skills.