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Supporting Teacher Understanding and Intervention of the Effects of Trauma on Preschool Development and Behaviors in the Classroom

Esposto, Denise (2023) Supporting Teacher Understanding and Intervention of the Effects of Trauma on Preschool Development and Behaviors in the Classroom. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The consequences of trauma and chronic toxic stress on young children’s social and neurobiological developments are numerous and well-documented in the literature (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2020; Jimenez et al., 2016; Sciaraffa et al., 2018; StatmanWeil, 2015; Zeng et al., 2019). Children exposed to trauma during early childhood (0-5 years old) can have profound challenges understanding and growing in the world around them. Educators can play a vital role in a preschooler’s life, especially those children affected by trauma, through serving as a healing, loving, and encouraging individual in the school setting. My problem of practice (PoP) identified insufficient teacher skills for recognizing and addressing preschooler’s mental health and trauma as a concern in the Pittsburgh Public Schools Early Childhood Education programs. Interviews with preschool teachers prior to this project indicated that trauma knowledge was not provided in university courses or job-related trainings. My change idea included the provision of monthly professional development trauma training, including reflective practice activities with the teachers and paraprofessionals. The goal for these initiatives was to increase trauma awareness and enhance teacher identification and interaction with children exhibiting trauma related behaviors. I collected and evaluated data prior to and after the trauma-based professional development trainings. The results showed a greater understanding of children’s trauma related behaviors after attending the trainings. Future training will include the continuation of a trauma-informed care approach for staff introducing alternative interventions to help the v preschool child learn self-regulation, resolve problems in a typical manner, and provide behavioral strategies that will not re-traumatize the child.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Esposto, Denisedae10@pitt.edudae10
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee MemberBagnato,]bagnatos
Committee MemberLarson, Tracytracy.larson @pitt.edutkl7
Committee ChairAkiva, Tomtomakiva@pitt.edutomakiva
Date: 21 September 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 June 2023
Approval Date: 21 September 2023
Submission Date: 19 July 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 84
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Learning Sciences and Policy
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: child trauma, trauma-informed care, teacher secondary traumatic stress, trauma related professional development, school–university partnerships
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2023 20:40
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2023 20:40


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