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Trauma-Informed Practice Training for Teaching Artists

Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation

Trauma-Informed Practice Training for Teaching Artists Logo

Program Website
Year:
2019
State:
Pennsylvania
Winner Status:
Honorable Mention
Program Type:
Training and Skill Building
Target Population:
Providers and Caregivers
Setting:
Community

Nature of the Problem

How can artists who teach in communities become informed and active partners for addressing trauma in young people? As teaching artists (TA’s) work in increasingly complex settings with young people whose lives are challenged daily by poverty, violence, and intolerance, a new set of skills becomes essential. At the Bartol Foundation, we asked, “What if teaching artists were given training in trauma-informed practice AND how apply this training to how they teach?” The Bartol Foundation, a small Philadelphia foundation, has developed and piloted an in-depth training in trauma-informed practice for teaching artists who teach young people in and out of school settings, predominantly in communities impacted by trauma. Often, these TA’s have not been trained as educators but work through instinct, intelligence and heart. For over a decade, the Bartol Foundation has presented free professional development to 300-400 TA’s in the Philadelphia area each year. The trauma training integrates best practices in behavioral health and arts education to support artists working at the intersection of youth development, social justice, and education. In our first two cohorts, almost 90 artists applied for the first 24 slots. Now we want to scale it up. Reach more artists. Train more trainers. Have more impact.

Program Description

The Bartol Foundation has developed and piloted an in-depth training curriculum that aligns the theory of trauma-informed practice with specific teaching strategies for TA’s. The five-session, 20-hour training includes the following topics: Trauma and the Brain; Trauma, Trusts and Beliefs; Trauma and Behavior: Building Resilience in Young People; Boundaries, Reflection and Self-Care; and Incorporating Trauma-informed Practices into Lesson Planning and Activities. The training includes a 60-page handbook (attached) that also incorporates case studies and practical applications, plus guest presenters in behavioral health, art therapy, and specific art forms. TA’s receive a stipend of $200 upon completion. Each cohort joins a learning community for ongoing training and support. Leader designer and facilitator Mindy Early is Director of Education for Philadelphia Young Playwrights and has over 100 hours of trauma-informed training. Mindy has built a curriculum that combines a strong foundation in the science and theory of trauma with practical strategies for TA’s to use in the classroom. This training is open to all TA’s who then work for multiple organizations. Priority is given to artists of color and those working in settings with students most affected by trauma such as incarcerated youth, immigrant and migrant youth, and LGBTQ youth.

Disruption

TA’s often come to their teaching without a background in education and rely on the organizations that employ them to provide training. But in our 2018 survey of almost 150 TA’s, less than half reported receiving professional development through the organizations they were affiliated with. In addition, 60% reported securing work on their own. Small, community-based organizations (often working in communities most impacted by trauma) are without the capacity to provide their own professional development opportunities. Bartol’s training is open to all; enabling TA’s to invest in their own professional development without relying on an employer. TA’s receive a $200 stipend for their participation, compensating them for lost wages over the 5-session training or cost of child care. This training also incorporates best practices from the field of behavioral health, building a bridge between theory and practice, specific to the needs of artists working with young people impacted by trauma.

Leadership

First, this program has developed specific training curriculum and materials that can be shared with others wishing to engage the arts as a strategy for addressing trauma in young people. This expands the paradigm beyond only trained arts therapists to other artists working at the intersection of the arts, education, youth development and social justice in communities impacted by trauma. Second, we have developed a model for building bridges between the theory and science of trauma-informed practice and a specific, allied field. The combination of theory and practice, the curriculum structure, and the creation of learning communities is a model for others who want to incorporate trauma-informed practice into related fields working with youth and others impacted by trauma. We are excited to share this approach not only with those in the arts but with others who want to become trauma-informed.

Scalability

For the two pilot programs, we received 88 applications for only 24 slots. We have already received multiple requests for training locally and nationally. The opportunities for scaling up include: 1) offering this training locally 3-4 times each year; 2) developing a related “train the trainer” curriculum for education and program directors at arts organizations; 3) training at least one additional lead facilitator to increase our capacity; and 4) facilitating an ongoing learning community for those who have completed the training. The initial pilot phase is supported by the William Penn Foundation. We are already in conversation with other funders such as The Philadelphia Foundation who want to offer this training to their grantees by sponsoring their own training cohort. These fee-for-service contracts would share the training more broadly and generate income to support training cohorts open to all.

Results/Outcomes

The Scattergood Foundation consulted with us to develop and administer pre- and post- surveys focused on the change in attitudes and knowledge about trauma. The first cohort demonstrated increased positive attitudes about trauma, as well as increased knowledge about ACES and trauma. In addition, we developed a rubric to assess whether the TA’s final lesson plans incorporated specific trauma-informed practices such as establishing a safe, creative culture and classroom rituals, giving students choice; and, constructing lessons that enable students to take creative risks comfortably. Overall, incorporating trauma-informed practices was present or strongly present in all of the lesson plans in 5 of 8 categories, with more work needed in developing low-impact participation, affirmations, and reflection, which will be strengthened in the next pilot phase. Most importantly, the first 12 artists in the training estimate they will teach over 1700 students at over 40 schools and community sites this year.