Healing School Systems
Ximena Portilla; MDRC
This brief describes the experiences of three educational systems that are striving to address the adversity that affects their school communities. They are shifting away from reactive, student-level interventions and exclusion in response to challenging student behavior, and toward whole-system approaches focused on healing, prevention, and cultivating psychologically safe and supportive environments for all. A whole-system healing-centered, trauma-engaged approach moves beyond viewing trauma as an individual experience and recognizes that there is collective trauma affecting the entire school community, thus, a need for collective healing. This brief is based on lessons learned from conversations with state and district leaders, who shared their insights on how they are recognizing the presence of chronic stress and trauma in their staff members and students; interrogating their systems, policies, and practices; and providing resources to the teaching workforce, so educators can both be healers for students and receive healing support for themselves.
It comes with a companion case study that includes advice from leaders found here.