Peter Murrell, ACTS Senior Research Associate
We are breaking new ground with our work of promoting educational resiliency. Our program of working with Baltimore City Schools in figuring out how to promote academic success through elevating children’s sense of well-being has begun in six of our partners schools through Project LIFTT. Talking and working with parents and teachers together is a powerful way to properly and effectively mobilize all the resources for lifting the academic development of our children.
Everyone can agree that the most successful performance of students and urban classrooms is based upon the principle of educating the whole child. This means not only focusing on the academic content of their classroom experience but also on the development of social emotional development and well being. The new ground we are breaking in our six LIFTT Schools is our community mobilizing practice of always beginning our work on a solid foundation of a shared idea of change. In each school community, we have been co-constructing a shared framework of what children in the school community need most to succeed and to overcome all barriers that threaten that success.
We know that many Baltimore city students arrive at school with significant stress and trauma. We want to have trauma-informed ways of supporting children in their academic experiences and their interactions with teachers and other students that are not overly clinical. We know that for many students, the involvement of counselors, social workers, and other mental health professionals may not necessarily be that helpful.
Not everyone knows what stress and trauma looks like in the day-to-day school experiences of teachers and students. Mental health professionals are not necessarily equipped to show how the everyday practices in school life should be transformed to become this supportive and emotionally safe space. But we are finding that teachers, families and parents joining together can build the working understanding we need to help all students.