After completing a new certification from the State of Ohio, the media center specialist at the Delaware Area Career Center said she is excited to help students learn and develop at the school.
Grace Hammond said this week she was recently awarded the Trauma-Informed Care Certificate from the State of Ohio. The idea behind the certification, she added, is that “every professional who interacts with these children can have an impact on their lives.”
“We want to create supports, not barriers, and to help these students using evidence-based practices,” Hammond said. “In the DACC Media Center, I weave these best practices throughout my teaching and in the learning environment.”
Hammond said she was eager to get the certification and jumped at the opportunity when she saw it.
“Trauma-informed practice has never been more important,” Hammond said. “Students are coming back to school after historic challenge, difficulty and isolation. I first studied trauma in terms of Growth Mindset and resiliency in graduate school. There, I became interested in how students who have experienced trauma may have unique challenges at school but also bring unique, powerful strengths.”
Hammond said the Trauma-Informed Care Certificate allows her to take what she learned even further.
“In this program I learned evidence-based practices to support students who have been impacted by trauma,” she said. “Those impacts may show up as unskillful or disruptive behaviors, inability to focus, difficulty with others, difficulty engaging in the learning process, and so on. In trauma-informed teaching, we look at behaviors as communication and seek to understand what a student is trying to tell us that they need in order to learn.”
Hammond said it’s her job as a teacher-librarian to make the library a supportive space for students, especially during the pandemic.
“I try to make it both a vibrant space of energy and learning and also a refuge for students to reset when needed,” she said. “To me, this is more important than ever this year. In the Media Center, one of my primary goals is to create the conditions that students need to learn, explore, and develop persistence. My mission is to empower students to be engaged, confident learners. I work to eliminate barriers to learning so that students can discover themselves as explorers, creators, and even risk-takers who are willing to keep trying when the learning is tough.”
Hammond said “true learning can be messy,” and it requires falling and getting back up. She said she’s there to make students feel safe to take risks and grow.
“If we want students to persist in learning, to undertake that creative and often messy process, they need to feel safe and be safe taking those risks,” Hammond said. “The learning environment needs to be truly supportive. To me, that is where trauma-informed teaching comes in. (Trauma-informed teaching is about) creating a learning environment that is fully, proactively supportive to students who have experienced trauma and are navigating its many effects while trying to learn. For those students, it’s a big job, and we can help.”
Hammond said she has two current initiatives at the DACC Media Center; Brain Break Baskets, which give students themed-sensory-based activities to help them refocus or self-regulate; and Work Smarter Boot Camps, a six-week class focused on teaching students organizational tools and strategies that can reduce anxiety and stress when implemented.
Hammond added that she also teaches a class on digital health and wellness, and she asks students to examine their relationships with their phones and think about which behaviors are helpful and which ones are unhelpful.
“Teaching students to self-reflect on what is and isn’t working for them, without judgment, can be a trauma-informed practice,” Hammond said. “I try to help students shine a light on the knowledge and strengths they already have and help them find ways to focus and develop it.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.