Trauma and its Impact

Trauma and its Impact

0.50 USBE Credit
Trauma impacts many students who walk the halls of our schools and sit in our classrooms or groups. It is important that we understand the prevalence of trauma and its impact on young children, including how it affects the body and can disrupt physical, social, emotional, and mental development. Understanding events that may lead to traumatic reactions, different types of trauma (e.g., complex, intergenerational, historical), and the impact of trauma on our students will help to better serve the students you work with.


To earn this 0.5 USBE credit microcredential you will submit two evidence items demonstrating your effective and consistent use of trauma-informed strategies to address the impacts of trauma. You will also complete a short written or video reflective analysis.


You will be charged $20 by the badge provider. You'll be charged at the point you submit your badge for final review.


It is not intended that an applicant be an expert in trauma, but understand enough to inform their interactions with students.


Trauma: An event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

Acute trauma: Trauma that results from a single incident.

Chronic trauma: Repeated or prolonged experiences such as domestic violence or abuse.

Complex trauma: Exposure to multiple traumatic events from an early age, and the immediate and long-term effects of these experiences over development.

Early childhood trauma: Generally refers to the traumatic experiences that occur to children aged 0-6.

Intergenerational trauma: The transmission of historical oppression and its negative consequences across generations; effects can be psychological, familial, social and cultural.


This scenario is part of a project The Hechinger Report did in collaboration with local public radio station WWNO in New Orleans. They wanted to do more to help readers understand the traumatic experiences many young children are dealing with at home:

When Sherlea’s mom is doing well, she can spend hours working with Sherlea working on a school project. They go to the movies, or bike around town, Sherlea loves these times. But when her mom drinks, Sherlea says she turns into a different person. She can become unpredictable and even violent. Sherlea’s mom has schizophrenia and she refuses to take medication that helps manage her symptoms.

When Sherlea lived with her mom, her mom assaulted a staff member of a mental health organization that provided them with housing. They ended up being evicted. Since then Sherlea has lived with her grandmother. And her grandmother has a rule: no drinking in the house. But it’s hard for Sherlea’s mom to stop.

Several months ago, her grandmother told her mom to leave the house because she was drinking. In response, her mother smashed one of Sherlea’s bedroom windows. Her window is still boarded up with wood. Fixing it requires two months worth of rent, a steep cost for her grandmother.

Besides feeling unsafe, Sherlea mourned something else, “It was my favorite window. It was perfect for selfies.”

Most nights, though, Sherlea just doesn't know where her mother is. She might be sleeping at the laundromat or in the streets. She might promise to come back then not show up. Or she might call out of the blue and ask for a ride back to the house.

Rochelle Gauthier, a social worker at Lawrence D. Crocker College Prep (Sherlea’s school) said, “This is stuff any adult would find hard to deal with, much less a young person. “

In fact, when she lived with her mother, life at home was so overwhelming that Sherlea would often sit in school with her head on the desk. She was frequently late and missed classes. She was going to fail a grade.

But Gauthier and her teachers at Crocker didn’t discipline her. They applied a trauma-informed approach. This approach is based on research that shows that children who have suffered traumatic experiences have a hard time focusing in school without first calming negative feelings and the impulse to flee or fight when something happens. How could geometry matter when you feel unsafe?

For many students at the school, and in New Orleans in general, experiencing trauma at a very young age is a very real possibility, whether in the form of gun violence, the loss or incarceration of loved ones, the stress of poverty, and more. Gauthier estimates that up to 70% of the students at Crocker have experienced such adverse conditions.

This trauma-informed approach is in stark contrast to the zero-tolerance approach, which meant even minor infractions of the rules landed students with an out-of-school suspension. Many students simply missed school, while the behavior that led to their suspensions continued.

In Sherlea’s case, applying the trauma-informed approach meant finding out what was happening at home, helping her learn some coping skills, and offering resources for her to rely on.

Gauthier's door is always open, and Sherlea pops in from time to time. But it isn’t just Gauthier's task. Trauma-informed methods are part of the classroom, the interactions between teachers and students, and among peers. It also enlists the students' family members.

Sherlea’s teachers are also available to lend an ear, or keep their room open for Sherlea to come in and work there when she needs a moment away from class. Beyond the classrooms there is also a school wellness center. It has comfortable seating, dim lights, and resources about grief and trauma. It’s a safe and neutral space to get away from it all.

Sherlea thinks it smells nice there.


Unit Plan: Submit a unit plan demonstrating your implementation of practices and strategies addressing the impacts of trauma. This should be a unit plan that you have already used with the learners you support.

Include a summary of your knowledge of the impact of trauma, being mindful to include information on the significance of childhood trauma and events that may lead to a traumatic reaction. In addition, explain how this information directly impacts your work. Identify at least two aspects of your unit plan that reflect this understanding. This summary should include researched-based information as well as personal/professional insights specific to your role. Summaries that include stories that highlight the application of concepts with students should have all student-identifying information removed.

Testimonial: Submit 2 written testimonials from students, parents, administrators, and/or
colleagues detailing how your understanding and application of trauma-informed practices has improved outcomes within your profession. The testimonials should demonstrate effective implementation of trauma-informed practices and should follow all district/charter guidelines for student privacy.

Candidates are required to make 2 evidence submission(s).

Review Criteria

Criterion 1: The evidence demonstrates that the applicant understands the various types of trauma, its prevalence and overall impact on children.

Criterion 2: The evidence demonstrates the applicant's ability to enact the concepts of trauma-informed practices in practice to improve student outcomes.


  1. Define trauma in your own words and describe how trauma might impact a student.

  2. Describe how your understanding of the impact of trauma influences the practices you implement to support students in the classroom, school, or group setting as well as the larger community.

  3. How does your understanding of the impact of trauma influence your interactions with both students and your colleagues?

Review Criteria

Criterion 1: Responses include what types of events may lead to a traumatic reaction and specifically speak to the significance of childhood traumatic events.

Criterion 2: Responses include personal/professional insights that demonstrate the applicant's understanding of concepts within their role in the school setting.

Criterion 3: Responses identify at least two ways the applicant applies the information learned in their current practice.


A little girl's school helps her deal with trauma at home
This storyboard seeks to highlight the personal experience of a child who is facing traumatic events in her life as she navigates elementary school.

Mental Health Technology Transfer Center
This webinar presentation (part 1* of 2) will discuss the types of trauma and its prevalence, how exposure to trauma can impact a students academic performance and seeks to enhance educators ability to act supportively helping students build resilience. *Only part 1 of this web series will need to be viewed to complete this credential.

National Traumatic Stress Network
This webinar presentation introduces interpersonal trauma and its impact on children, discusses traumas impact on the body and development as well as reviews types of trauma.

National Traumatic Stress Network: About Child Trauma
This document covers information on various events that may lead to a traumatic response, childhood traumatic stress, adversity and risk and protective factors for youth.

Perspectives and Resources: Understanding the Impact of Trauma
This document describes various types of trauma and its impact in early childhood. Intergenerational and historical trauma introduced as well as the role culture plays. In addition, some screening and assessment information can also be found.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Understanding Child Trauma - English Version
This brief seeks to educate on childhood traumas prevalence and impact as well as the importance of having a supportive network of caring adults.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Understanding Child Trauma - Spanish Version
This brief seeks to educate on childhood traumas prevalence and impact as well as the importance of having a supportive network of caring adults.

TAKE10 is a classroom-based physical activity program, developed with the assistance of health professionals and education experts, combining academic instruction with 10 minutes physical activity breaks to get kids moving without sacrificing time dedicated to academic learning.

USBE Trauma-Informed Professional Learning Modules
The Utah State Board of Education’s Trauma-Informed Learning Modules are available through Canvas and are designed to help participants develop the knowledge and skills necessary to become trauma-informed and trauma-aware.


Scott Eyre
Scott Eyre
Ileana Morocatalan
Ileana Morocatalan


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