Each year in October, NEA-Alaska holds its annual professional development conference, Fall Event. NEA-Alaska pays for travel for four individuals from each local to attend and locals can send additional members to the conference until we reach capacity. In years past, we have presented topics on building local capacity, social justice, minority leadership, and technology in the classroom. This year, we decided to solely concentrate on Building Trauma Responsive Schools.
Locals were encouraged to send teams of individuals who would be willing to come back to their districts and share the information they gained with their colleagues, district administrators, school board members, and with the community at large. They were even encouraged to bring some of these people to the conference to help with implementation. Thirty-seven locals sent a total of 150 individuals to take part in the conference.
With the help of the Illinois Education Association (IEA), NEA-Alaska modeled a successful conference that they have been holding for a few years. The movie, Resilience, was shown on opening night with a panel discussion that followed. Resilience is a one-hour movie that delves into the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and the birth of a new movement to treat and prevent Toxic Stress. Over the next day and a half, workshops were presented on: Toxic Stress, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and the Impact on Children and Adults; Executive Functioning; Mindfulness and Self Care; Social and Emotional Learning; Restorative Practices; Building Resilience; and Enhancing Success for All Students: Trauma Engaged Resources. Raquel Schroeder, an indigenous educator, talked about growing up in Alaska and how culturally responsive practices are important for students’ education and overall well-being. There was also time for team planning during each day. Along with help from the IEA staff, NEA-Alaska partnered with DEED, the Association of Alaska School Boards, the Alaska Children’s Trust, several principals, and at least one of our own members to help with the panel and trainings.
If your local had members attend, we encourage you to reach out to them for presentations and information that can assist you in your own work with students who have experienced trauma.