Students in urban education experience various types of trauma, e.g., abuse, neglect, divorce, community violence, etc. This experience of trauma leaves many unable to access the learning environment. Frequently, they have decreased attention; increased triggered responses, reduced awareness; and minimal coping strategies. The community of people surrounding the youth (parents/caregivers and teachers) are not trauma-informed; do not have a sense of their own trauma and its effects; and many are experiencing compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, or burnout. While schools frequently acknowledge the presence of trauma, there appears to be a disconnect in how to start the healing process. Many of the anti-social behaviors are punished without addressing the underlying causes of the behavior. As a result, many students are misdiagnosed with various disorders, e.g., attention, emotional, oppositional, etc. Trauma is frequently at the root of the problem. Providing students and their community (teachers and parents) with tools to help manage the behaviors and increase overall well-being is paramount. Incorporating mindfulness into schools improves outcomes for its practitioners. It boosts self-regulation, promotes pro-social behavior, reduces stress, and increases academic performance (students); and heightens the awareness of thoughts/feelings; enhances teaching and classroom management; nurtures resilience; and prevents burn-out (adults). Mindfulness brings the individual back to the present moment, which allows for integration in the brain. If not for communication between structures in the brain, experiences would be viewed through a traumatic lens.
Angela Marie Grice, PhD, CCC-SLP, is the owner of The Dialogue Group, a multi-faceted company based in Washington, D.C. that provides innovative solutions to various communication dilemmas. She teaches mindfulness and yoga to middle and high school students in Washington, D.C. Public Charter Schools and New Beginnings Youth Detention Center. Her work was recently awarded an Essentials Fellowship from 4.0 Schools, an organization that looks for individuals/companies that have pioneering ideas to improve education. Helping students from “hard places”, Dr. Grice incorporates mindfulness and yoga practices to minimize and cope with the impact of trauma. She is a native Washingtonian, who attended both George Washington University and Howard University. Her work in the Neurocognition of Language Lab as a post-doctoral fellow at Teachers’ College, Columbia University introduced her to mindfulness. As a native Washingtonian, it is important for Dr. Grice to “pay it forward”. Offering mindfulness-based practices to students from urban areas enables the students to better manage trauma. There is an increased prevalence of students who have experienced trauma in urban schools. This trauma leaves them unable to access the learning environment.
When not working, Dr. Grice loves spending time with her loved ones and dog, Blizzard.