Fifteen-thousand feet: what BC educators know and need to know to embed trauma informed practice in schools
Trauma informed practice in schools is a new field of education that has become part of policy in British Columbia’s public school systems as determined by the BC Ministry of Education. Though the Ministry of Education has mandated through policy that trauma informed practices must be embedded in school practices, there has not been any programming or professional development from the Ministry to assist BC educators in meeting this ideal. Existing statistics show that BC has a higher than average percentage of students with disability designations of “Behaviour Support or Students with Mental Illness” and “Intensive Behaviour Intervention or Serious Mental Illness”. BC also has one of the highest child poverty rates in Canada. These factors combined suggest that the rate of childhood trauma in BC may be significant. This study aims to identify what knowledge BC educators need to know to embed trauma informed practice in teaching practice, and compare that theoretical background to what a small group of BC educators already know and are actively doing to support students who have experienced trauma. A qualitative research methodology was used with interviews as a data collection instrument. Thematic analysis was applied. The results indicate that participants do not consider their practice to be trauma informed, nor do they have formal training to implement trauma informed practices. However, some of the practices BC educators are doing are consistent with trauma informed practice, though BC educators are not using the label of trauma informed to describe their practice.