Standing on her Shoulders: Celebrating Meta L. Christy, DO, and African American Alumnae Trailblazers
Founder of GOAT Educators, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“Young people who have been affected by trauma need understanding, and then they need love. And love is without judgment—meeting them where they are. We hold them to certain standards and want them to behave in a specific way. But especially for Black and brown children who may not be used to acting that way, and who then come to school and are punished for it—they feel defeated and hopeless, and they’re being retraumatized in those schools, in essence. … Reverse the Adverse is trauma-informed care training for educators and mental health professionals who work with urban students affected by adverse childhood experiences. The foundation of trauma-informed work is for educators to reflect on their own biases, their own lived experiences and how those could be affecting management of the entire classroom. …We all have bias; I take educators through that journey of self-discovery. Then I teach them about trauma and how certain behaviors manifest in the classroom. … Teachers often come up to me after training and tell me how impactful it was, because now they’ve taken the time to digest and understand things they may have known on a surface level. They appreciate the simple strategies for turning around different behaviors, so they can move on with the instruction. … One way to deescalate is a pattern disrupt. You want to come to a student in a calm manner, no matter what—say the child is throwing chairs—and you never want to ask them what’s going on mid-incident. You give them time to calm down and let them know that once this is over, they can come to you. You’re letting them know you’re there when they need you. Now they have an adult that’s 100 percent attuned to what they’re talking about and what’s bothering them. … The problem is always that we want to fix things now. But this is a different way of teaching, a perspective change. Because if you lead with love and relationships and prioritize that from day one, a lot of the problems and issues we see will never occur, or won’t escalate as much. Research shows that compliance increases when you have good relationships. … Because of my own personal history with trauma, being able to help the students heals my younger self. I’m able to go back and understand—through their perspective, through their lens, their lives—why things happened to me.”
as told to Janice Fisher
Read more stories from African American female physicians, leaders and health professionals.
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