Art Sphere's Trauma-Informed Arts Program Strategy
Art Sphere Inc.’s Trauma Informed Arts (TIA) plan will start with our teachers. Our teachers not only represent many different ethnic and cultural communities but also are now and will be teaching pre K – high school age youth in various settings (in person, hybrid and online) in different communities and locations; therefore, we must incorporate flexibility and creativity into our teaching methodology in order to help as many children as possible who may be affected by trauma.
We believe it is important for each teaching artist to have time to reflect on their own experience so that they are able to administer programs that have personal integrity and meaning. We will incorporate four principles. Learn nonviolent methods of dealing with problems and stress at the link below.
Our teachers will learn how to assess those who may be at risk. They will be coached on what to look out for – what are the signs. Students experiencing trauma may show up at times with behaviors where they appear to be dazed, self-destructive, act out, or exhibit inappropriate or impulsive comments that are in response to being anxious, withdrawn, angry, sad or overwhelmed.
Many times, our students will find relief when they simply find themselves in a nurturing and non-judgmental environment where they can get guidance to identify their needs and explore these feelings safely. Taking time to consistently and routinely check in and listen to students, and share empathy, is key building necessary relationships of trust for them to feel heard, understood, accepted and have the time and space to process suffering so they can heal.
There are no bad feelings: once students are able to accept what they are feeling they are able to move on to explore other emotions.
In addition to developing the specific curriculum for each Art Workshop on the theme of “A Journey” to emphasize process over product (such as Mindfulness through the Arts; Literacy through Art and many more) we will be incorporating TIA tools into our lesson plan templates to provide a classroom schedule roadmap. This will include a safety plan, check ins, modeling, low impact and alternative project options of varying skills and levels of engagement as well as opportunities for discussion, reflection and closure.
To make sure that all teachers have the same information and the help they need to handle difficult situations that may arise in the classroom, we will be sharing our training and research on our Drive where teachers can continue to share resources, research and learnings as teachers on this ”journey.” We see our class time with youth as a precious container and retreat for students where teachers will provide dependable, reliable and predictable adult support when many other areas of our students’ lives are chaotic. Please see the self-reflection checklist that we will ask our teachers to fill out and which will be used in our Team Meetings as a tool to further their learning and conversations.
We will teach our teachers the skills they need to have to manage the classroom and additionally how to teach the soft social skills that they can help their students learn and keep engaged in creative play, finding their flow and experimentation.
Since our classes are made up of various races, cultures and ethnicities, we want to be culturally appropriate and will draw heavily on our teachers to help us determine what is and what is not culturally appropriate and draw on their talents and knowledge of materials.
We want ALL of our students to grow emotionally, socially, creatively and artistically. We will help our teachers reach out to their students to help them find the ways they learn best. Our approach, based on Howard Gardner’s “theory of intelligences,” helps the individual student find what strengths they have and provides several different learning strategies, such as literacy, dance, and music, to supplement the art curriculum so that the student can find the best ways to express themselves.
External validation from teachers and peers helps students gain the confidence to achieve mastery that aids learning. More importantly teaching affirming self-talk, strengthens students’ abilities to find and appreciate their unique perspectives, talents and voice. Their ability to make thoughtful decisions for longer term considerations improves the quality of their choices. It is central to ASI’s philosophy that all students should reach their own level of achievement that will increase their mental health, self-esteem, knowledge and drive to go on learning. We will encourage activities where students are empowered to lead discussions, share their expertise and mentor others.