Catherine Sadowski


Link to mini-course: Teaching Children Affected by Family Violence

About me

This is my final semester in the CDIT program and I am so excited to be completing my degree. I am certified in mathematics grades 5-12 and am currently teaching Algebra 1 in Jamestown, NY at an alternate setting where most students are those who have behavioral issues. My job is certainly challenging but also extremely rewarding. Both of my parents work in education (Mom is also an Algebra teacher in the same school district and Dad is a Superintendent) and I honestly went into teaching for the summers and weekends off! Although I do appreciate those perks, I absolutely love what I do and could not picture myself as anything but a high school teacher. My husband, Ryan, and I have 2 daughters (Luna-4 and Piper-2) and a silver labrador named Bruce.

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My Topic/Purpose

The topic of family violence and how this affects the way students learn, their relationships, and how to address this in the classroom is unfortunately one that many of us deal with on a daily basis. These students have different needs and there are certain techniques that work best when approaching students with this type of trauma. For this wiki-page I aim to cover this topic. After completing the course, students will be able to teach children affected by family violence given several techniques every single day in their classroom.

Needs Assessment

1. Instructional Problem

“Family violence is by far the most prevalent and devastating source of childhood trauma, effecting many more children than other sources such as accidents, disasters, and medical conditions,” (Craig, 2008, p. 2).

Unfortunately, trauma caused by family violence is not uncommon among school age children. These children are affected negatively by this domestic violence. At school they could be angry, frustrated and aggressive and classified as underachieving in their academics (Holt, 2015). Not only does this affect their academics, it also affects their relationships with both adults and peers, and their general development (Craig, 2008). Educators should be trained at identifying the signs of family violence and how to provide a supportive environment where they may thrive and learn.

Peckover & Trotter (2015) explain that these children need special support and safeguarding and that the ways in which professionals deal with their needs could be enhanced or expanded upon. UNICEF (2006) reports that nearly 275 million children have been impacted by domestic violence globally. That is a lot of children who need special attention when they come to school traumatized by what has happened at home. By informing and educating all school personnel, students will be given a greater chance at overcoming their trauma and have a chance to perform to their full potential.

2. What is to be Learned

Educators will learn how to spot students impacted by family violence through problem behaviors in school and will learn techniques to support children impacted by family violence.

3. The Learners

The learners will include current and pre-service teachers in the K-12 setting. They will have had interactions with students who have been impacted by family violence and will understand the need for special care for these students. Instruction will be geared toward middle and high school teachers but can be modified to suit elementary teachers as well.

Learner Analysis

Learners in this course include teachers and professionals working with students grades K-12 in a classroom setting. Participants will have varying degrees of knowledge and experience working with students affected by family violence.

4. Context for Instruction

Participants will learn the provided content online through this mini-course. An Internet connection and Internet friendly device is required to participate with the content.

5. Exploring the Instructional Problem and Solution

Learners will peruse modules within this course that will examine common problem behaviors of students impacted by family violence, the effects of family violence on their education and relationships, and techniques to help support these children in the classroom. Learners will engage in activities that will allow them to practice techniques presented and develop plans for when these students appear in their classrooms.

6. Goals of this Mini-Course

One goal of this course is to help educators recognize that some problem behaviors by students are the result of the inability to process the traumatic events they are experiencing at home. The second goal would be for teachers to respond appropriately to these behaviors in a kind and compassionate manner as to provide students with a stable and caring learning environment at school, unlike the unstable and scary environment at home. The third goal is that through implementing techniques to care for students impacted by family violence would be that they may perform to their full potential and begin to overcome their trauma.

Performance Objectives

Course level objectives

Participants will be able to:

  • Identify student problem behaviors during interactions as ones triggered by family violence
  • Understand that students may be suffering academically because of family violence before being critical of their performance
  • Provide a supportive and caring environment where students may thrive at all times
  • Design protocols on how to respond to students traumatized by family violence appropriately and compassionately in a classroom setting

Task Analysis

Lesson 1: What is family violence? Signs of trauma

  1. The learner will define family violence (prerequisite)
  2. The learner will identify the necessity of being able to identify trauma in the classroom (prerequisite)
  3. The learner will watch video on childhood trauma
  4. The learner will read signs of trauma (prerequisite)

Lesson 2: Effects of family violence on academics, emotions, and relationships

  1. The learner will read an article on the effects of family violence on academics
  2. The learner will read about the effects of family violence on emotions
  3. The learner will read about the effects of family violence on relationships
  4. The learner will view a video on the effects of family violence
  5. The learner will complete a quiz on the effects of family violence

Lesson 3: Methods to help students cope

  1. The learner will hypothesize what type of approah would be beneficial to helping students of trauma cope
  2. The learner will research ways to respond appropriately and compassionately when students have experienced family trauma
  3. The learner will justify why these methods would be helpful to a student who has experienced family violence
  4. The learner will create a cheat sheet of “go-to” strategies to consistently utilize in their classroom to create a safe, compassionate, and supportive learning environment

Curriculum Map

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References and Resources

Behind closed doors. (2006). Retrieved October 5, 2016, from

Craig, S. E. (2008). Reaching and teaching children who hurt: Strategies for your classroom. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Pub.


Peckover, S., & Trotter, F. (2015). Keeping the focus on children: the challenges of safeguarding children affected by domestic abuse. Health & Social Care In The Community, 23(4), 399-407. doi:10.1111/hsc.12160