Voice is a cornerstone of healing from trauma, yet trauma-responsive approaches to schooling rarely include children’s voices–their desires, insights, and expertise. In 2017, our research-practice partnership team designed an all-school trauma-responsive approach in two rural elementary schools that centered student voice and equity. With the support of TREE coaches and input from children, we introduced student-empowered social and emotional learning practices and developed a series of all-school curricular changes. The results were astonishing. Test scores went up, absentee rates dropped, and school climate improved.

This spring our book describing the approach and practices will be published with Harvard Education Publishing. We make a strong case that trauma-responsive schooling requires engaging with children and youth as full and active partners in school and community transformation.

“When people experience trauma,” educator Alex Shevrin Venet writes in her book, Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education, “it can feel as if the world becomes a little more broken. Playing a role in putting it back together can feel like healing.” Children have a key role to play in putting their world back together. Listening to their voices, taking them seriously, and seeking to promote their agency, control, and empowerment is critical to addressing and mitigating the adversity, stress, and trauma they and others around them experience.

We look forward to being in ongoing conversation with you about this work!