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Trauma Informed Educational Practice

Working Definition

Peer support is a system of giving and receiving help founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful. (Mead, 2003)

Why It’s Important to Student Learning and Academic Success

Through shared understanding, respect, and mutual empowerment, peer supporters help people become and stay engaged in learning and reduce the likelihood of leaving (SAMHSA, 2022)

Students who participate in peer support arrangements may have more social interactions, access a wider range of social supports, maintain, or increase their academic engagement, and develop more friendships. Peers also may benefit from involvement by developing new advocacy and support skills, deepening their commitment to inclusion, learning more about themselves, improving their attitudes related to people who are both similar and different than them, and forging new friendships; more academically engaged (Travers & Carter, 2022).

Promoting Inclusion, Social Connections, and Learning Through Peer Support Arrangements (Carter et al., 2015).

Classroom Tools

Classroom Audit Materials

  • How are peer supports integrated into the service delivery approach? (SAMHSA, 2014)
  • Trauma Informed Climate Scale (TICS-10) (Hales et al., 2019)
  • Qualitative indicators of peer support efficacy via feedback from educators and students, i.e.,
    • access to social support
    • engagement in class
    • learning
    • new friendships
    • feeling seen and heard
    • belonging and inclusion (Travers & Carter, 2022)

Theoretical and Evidence-Based Practices

Social learning theory postulates that peers, because they have undergone and survived relevant experiences, are more credible role models for others (Pierre, 2013).

Critical Pedagogy

The trauma informed care principle of peer support challenges us to uplift practices and policies that honor that:

  • Everyone has a role to play in healing and liberation.
  • Consent and shared power are crucial to [trauma informed educational practices].
  • Solidarity and fellowship are key to dismantling power structures that contribute to and sustain oppression
  • Voice of lived experience matters, both for informing systems, healing, and reclaiming of one's story.

TED: Hearing Our Voices: Peer Support and Mental Illness

"When you speak to me about your deepest question, you do not want to be fixed or saved; you want to be seen and heard, to have your truth acknowledged and honored. If your problem is soul deep, your soul alone knows what you need to do about it, and my presumptuous advice will only drive your soul back into the woods." (Parker Palmer)

More evidence

Required Institutional Supports for Success

Creating opportunity and policy for peer support to exist in all environments is to create antiracist policy, thus dismantling normalized systems of hierarchy/superiority currently alive in our institutions, systems, and communities (Hristić, 2020).

Professional Development:

Interrelated Concepts

  • According to SAMHSA, effective peer support is rooted in providing a sense of safety; trustworthiness and transparency; collaboration and mutuality; empowerment, voice, and choice; and awareness of cultural, historical, and gender issues.
  • Teacher academic support (Huang et al., 2010)
  • Peer support is a key vehicle for establishing safety and hope, building trust, enhancing collaboration, and utilizing stories and lived experience to promote healing. (SAMHSA, 2014) | 503.943.7111 or 800.841.8261 | 5000 N. Willamette Blvd., Portland, OR 97203-5798
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