The Principal Makes Rounds
Claudia Rojas (bio) promotes the importance of establishing a rapport with students and teachers in a trauma-informed school.
During that advisory period, which is a 30-minute period, that's sacred time for me, because that's when I'm walking into the different classrooms, I'm greeting students, I'm greeting teachers. I'm finding out who got here on time, who didn't; who came in uniform, who didn't. Do I have substitute today? And I need to introduce myself to the substitute and let them know if they need help call us in the office, I'm the principal. It's just making myself present so that students can see it's not just my teachers who care here, but it's also our principal.
Just having communication I think having rapport with students makes a huge difference. I mean saying, "Hello," sometimes to a child it makes a difference. Smiling at them, making them feel welcome. Because what we also understand is that sometimes before they get to our gates, before they get to school, they might have already experienced something either at home or on the way to school and so just the checking in with them makes a big deal.
I'll have students who I'll see in a class and I'll say, "How are you doing today?" They'll tell me, "Oh, you know what, I'm already not having a good day." "All right, let's go outside. What's going on?" We'll talk about it and then I'll say, "Are you going to be able to function today in your classes or do you need a break? Do you need a timeout?" Or, what's even more amazing is, sometimes they'll ask their teachers, "I just need five minutes. Can you give me five minutes to step outside and take a deep breath?" or what have you.
Again, because we are trauma-informed the teachers instead of saying, "No, you need to sit down and get back to work," "OK step outside." Then the teacher will eventually go out and talk to the student or if something more serious comes up, then obviously they'll send them down to me and then we'll decide what needs to be done to help that child at that time.
Excerpted from an interview at CBITS Summit 2013 in Santa Monica, CA.