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Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools

Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools

Your Guide to Creating Safe, Supportive Learning Environments for All Students
Author: Jen Alexander M.A., NCC, SB-R

ISBN: 978-1-68125-245-2
Pages: 248
Copyright: 2019
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Size:  7.0 x 10.0
Stock Number:  52452
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In the United States, at least one in four youth experiences trauma severe enough to negatively affect their school success.* Give hope and help to these students with this reader-friendly how-to guide, your springboard for building responsive, trauma-sensitive preK–12 schools.

Drawing on her extensive experience as a school counselor, trainer, and mother, trauma expert Jen Alexander delivers a comprehensive framework for building a safe, supportive school environment that helps all students learn and thrive. You'll start with an evidence-based introduction to the profound impact of trauma on a child's development, attachment, and behavior. Then you'll get an effective multi-tier system of support (MTSS) for developing a trauma-sensitive learning environment, including both universal strategies (Tier 1) and more intensive interventions (Tier 2 and Tier 3) for students who need more support. Compelling anecdotes and sample scripts illuminate challenges and solutions, and the included forms and worksheets are valuable tools for helping educators build the mindset and skills necessary for becoming trauma-sensitive. With this engaging, highly practical guide to what works and why, your school team will gain insights and develop action plans that make a real difference in the lives of all kids, including our most vulnerable youth.

  • make five key shifts in the way you view and approach students, so that you’re better equipped to support them
  • work together to prioritize resilience by actively putting relationships first in your school
  • implement universal instructional strategies that foster safety, connection, regulation, and learning for all students
  • use special supports, supplemental instruction, and coaching when universal strategies aren't enough
  • collaborate effectively with families and colleagues to meet each student's needs
  • incorporate restorative discipline practices that focus on restitution, not retribution
  • create a personalized self-care plan to promote wellness and reduce the effects of job-related stress

PRACTICAL MATERIALS: Creative activities for teachers, powerful case stories, sample dialogues and scripts for educators and counselors, reflection and brainstorming worksheets, downloadable forms, and templates and handouts for use with students.

Build resilience by helping all students
  • Feel safe
  • Be connected
  • Get regulated
  • Learn

Learn the essentials of trauma-sensitive PreK–12 learning environments and come away ready to help every student feel safe and ready to learn. Attend a 2-day Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools Institute March 17–18, 2020 in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Learn more and register.

* National Child Traumatic Stress Network Schools Committee, 2008
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Review by: Jody McVittie, Executive Director, Sound Discipline
Are you working with children who struggle because of their history of adverse experiences? You need this book—even if you already have a full shelf. Packed with stories, wisdom, and practical tools, this is a resource you'll come back to over and over again for ideas, support, and encouragement.
About the Online Materials
About the Author

Chapter 1: Trauma & Its Effects
  • What is Trauma?
  • Trauma Defined
  • Prevalence of Childhood Trauma
  • The Effects of Trauma on the Body

Chapter 2: The Role of Attachment in Development
  • Healthy Attachment
  • Attachment Issues
  • Attachment-Trauma

Chapter 3: Trauma's Impact on Youth at School
  • Faces of Trauma in the Classroom
  • The Effects of Developmental Trauma in School
  • Triggers in the Classroom
  • Common Approaches to Trauma in the Classroom

Chapter 4: The Trauma-Sensitive School Framework
  • What is a Trauma-Sensitive School?
  • Trauma-Informed Response to Intervention
  • Trauma-Sensitive Educators

Chapter 5: Paradigm Shifts
  • Paradigm Shifts for Trauma-Sensitive Educators

Chapter 6: Essentials for Trauma-Sensitive Schools
  • Essential #1: To Help Students Feel Safe
  • Essential #2: To Help Students Be Connected
  • Essential #3: To Help Students Get Regulated
  • Essential #4: To Help Students Learns

Chapter 7: Universal Strategies for Trauma-Sensitive Classrooms
  • Universal Strategies to Help All Students Feel Safe
  • Universal Strategies to Help All Students Be Connected
  • Universal Strategies to Help All Students Get Regulated
  • Universal Strategies to Help All Students Learn

Chapter 8: Supplemental and Intensive Trauma-Sensitive Interventions
  • Supplemental & Intensive Interventions for Helping Students Feel Safe
  • Supplemental & Intensive Interventions for Helping Students Be Connected
  • Supplemental & Intensive Interventions to Help Students Get Regulated
  • Supplemental & Intensive Interventions to Help Students Learn
  • We are in this Together

Chapter 9: The PACE Approach to Working with Traumatized Students
  • Follow, Lead, Follow
  • Playfulness
  • Acceptance
  • Curiosity
  • Empathy

Chapter 10: Trauma-Sensitive Discipline Practices
  • Restorative Discipline Practices
  • Trauma-Sensitive Consequences
  • Ending on a Positive Note

Chapter 11: Self-Care for Educators
  • Job-Related Stress
  • Final Lifeguarding Lessons
  • Self-care Plans


What are the principles of building trauma-sensitive learning environments, and how can you apply them in your school? Get practical answers from trauma expert Jen Alexander in this two-day Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools Institute, held on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 and Wednesday, March 18, 2020 in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Learn more and register.

Read a blog post
11 Things You Can Do Right Now to Build a More Trauma-Sensitive Classroom

At least 1 in 4 students has experience trauma that negatively impacts school success.
Learn more in this video from WeAreTeachers and Brookes Publishing.

Download the sample syllabus
Sample Syllabus: Building Trauma Sensitive Schools

Learn more about Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools!

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