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Creating a Peer Support Team

“As interest in trauma sensitivity starts to take root, the need arises for the focused attention of a leadership group or steering committee, led by the principal, to take on the many tasks that lie ahead. This steering committee functions much like a workgroup, closely collaborating with, and on behalf of, the entire school staff, strategizing, continually reporting back, soliciting input, and obtaining approval on the planning the group has undertaken. … It ensures that planning and actions stay focused on becoming a trauma-sensitive school. The members of the steering committee serve as guardians of the overarching vision, making sure that it does not get lost in the nuts and bolts of implementation.” 

Helping Traumatized Children Learn 2, p. 41

Safe Schools NOLA engages school leadership as the first step of all school partnerships. Within the charter school system that comprises New Orleans public schools, each school typically has a School Director and Principals representing different grade levels of the school. Initial discussions with the School Director and Principals provide insight into the school’s vision and priorities and help identify ways in which the school is already aligned with trauma-informed approaches. These discussions also inform the composition of the steering committee, which most typically has been the school leadership team in the Safe Schools NOLA schools. School leadership teams typically consist of the School Director, Principals, the Dean of Students, and Special Education and Response to Intervention Coordinators.

Safe Schools NOLA utilizes a Peer Support Team to support all aspects of implementation. Peer Support Team members meet bi-weekly with the Teacher Support Specialist to engage in shared learning, individual and collaborative goal setting, and critical dialogue around trauma-informed approaches within their school. They assist in the delivery of the professional development sequence, participate in the schoolwide needs assessments, and collaborate with the school leadership team in the action planning process. Check out our Peer Support Team Guide – PDF for a sample schedule and suggested meeting structures and topics.