Create a Safe and Supportive School With Trauma-Informed Practices

Childhood trauma in our schools. It’s a reality. You see its impact everyday. You deal with the impact everyday—generally in the form of office referrals.

It’s beginning to impact the culture of your building.

You notice your staff—and you—are showing signs of compassion fatigue. Your students can’t afford for you or your staff to burn out. They deserve the best possible school experience.

You know there’s a better option. Continuous office referrals are not the answer. Let’s face it, by the time the student has come to your office the damage to the teacher-student relationship has already occurred. The loss of instructional time has been significant. And most likely only going to increase.

You know there’s a better way of interacting with students. You understand the importance of pre-referral strategies. But the strategies that have worked for you and your staff in the past aren’t working anymore. You know you need a different approach to address the needs of students who have experienced trauma.

The solution—create a safe and supportive school environment for all students with the application of trauma-informed practices.

What do these practices look like? How can you learn how to apply them?

You don’t have time to read another book. You don’t have time to leave the building to attend a conference. You certainly don’t have time to get your Masters in Social Work.

But …

Do you have 15-minutes a day over the next 10 days to devote to learning about trauma-informed practices?

Chances are you do. Because you want a better experience for your students. Practical Trauma-Informed Course

Based on my 15-years of experience as a teacher and principal, I’ve designed a course that will provide you with the knowledge you need to confidently address the behaviors you witness daily. You’ll feel confident talking to your staff about trauma-informed practices and how they will help all students feel safe and supported.

In short, less than 15-minute lessons, you will gain a deeper understanding of the following:

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
  • Self-care for yourself and your staff
  • Trauma and brain development, including the role of the prefrontal cortex
  • School-wide compassion fatigue
  • Do’s and Don’ts for dealing with the effects of childhood trauma
  • Power of positive relationships
  • Emotional first aid

You will learn how to:

Establish self-care habits Deal with students when they are experiencing or reliving crisis Address compassion fatigue in yourself and your staff Talk to parents about the impact of trauma on their child’s behavior

Arm yourself with knowledge of how trauma impacts the brain. Learn bite-sized strategies to de-escalate students who are functioning in “fight, flight, or freeze” modes.

Yes, you can deal with even the most challenging students.

Are you ready to gain the knowledge you need to implement trauma-informed practice? Click here to gain access to all 10 lessons.

I strongly believe that the first—and most important—step is taking care of yourself. As administrators, we must put the oxygen mask on ourselves first to better take care of our students and staff.

Take 15-minutes right now to experience lesson 1 of the Practical Trauma-Informed Course for free. This lesson will guide you through the process of developing a personal self-care plan. Click here to get the full course with 10 lessons.


Self-Assessment and 66-Day Challenge

Self-Care Assessment- Answer these 6 questions to see how well you’re taking care of yourself.

66 day challenge tracking sheet - Courtesy of

Additional Resources


  1. 72 Ideas for Self-Care- Want to implement self-care but don’t know where to start?  Here is a list of some ideas to get you started.

  2. 10 Self-Care Apps to Help get you Centered in 2019- If you’re looking for some more guidance and accountability to make a commitment to self-care, these 10 apps will help keep you on track.

  3. Choose Yourself- In this TedTalk, James Altucher, renowned author of Amazon Best-Sellers Choose Yourself and The Power Of No, reveals how at one point failure led him to consider suicide, and how he turned his life around by following five key practices of self-care.

  4. Self-Care for Educators-This Pinterest Board is dedicated to all things self-care and is specifically for educators.

  5. Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work - We believe we should work hard in order to be happy, but could we be thinking about things backwards? In this fast-moving and very funny talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that, actually, happiness inspires us to be more productive.


  1. Nadine Burke Harris TED talk about the ACE Study.

  2. Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences- This two-page handout gives a nice overview about what ACEs is, how it affects our students, and ways to build resilience.

  3. The Truth about ACEs- This infographic provides some staggering fact and statistics about ACEs.

  4. Signs and Symptoms of Childhood Trauma- This table from the Center for Child Trauma and Assessment Services and Interventions outlines the signs and symptoms of childhood trauma based on age.


  1. 15 Best Meditation and Mindfulness Apps- This site helps you find the best mindfulness and meditation apps for your specific needs

  2. 17 Top Meditation and Mindfulness Podcasts- It is important to actively reinforce the concept of mindfulness and refocus your attention on the present moment. This is a skill that can be learned with time, and there are several podcasts out there to help you practice.

  3. Yoga with Adriene YouTube Channel

  4. Wish vs. Can- It’s common for educators to feel a perpetual sense of failure when they aren’t able to fix all of the trauma their students are facing. One way to help build some healthy emotional boundaries is to identify what you wish you could do versus what you can actually do. Take some time to jot down what you wish you could do to help your students vs. what you can actually do.

  5. The Administrators’ Guide to Preventing School-Wide Compassion Fatigue- While it is important to be able to recognize organizational and individual symptoms of Compassion Fatigue, it’s even more important to be able to prevent it.  Here are some great ideas to incorporate into your school to promote a happy, healthy work environment

  6. How to Keep from Reaching your Breaking Point- This article will teach you how to recognize stress and ways to deal with it


  1. Learning brain vs. Survival Brain

  2. Storybrand podcast clip - Stating a fear or anxiety positively helps calm the person down. Giving a feeling a name is really powerful.

  3. How Stress Affects your Brain- This four-minute easy-to-follow video explains the effects of stress on the brain and how to reverse those effects.

  4. How Can Trauma Affect the Brain? - This easy-to-understand two-page handout describes three regions of the brain that are affected by trauma and the implications for those effects.  Since the damage to these regions doesn’t have to be permanent, this resource also provides tips for how to support your students’ brain development even after experiencing trauma.

  5. This is your Brain on C-PTSD- This visual demonstrates the thoughts that can cloud the mind of someone with complex post traumatic stress disorder.

  6. 10 Exercises for your Prefrontal Cortex- We know that trauma can affect the brain.  We also know that we can reverse the effects of that trauma.  This infographic provides ten exercises to help reverse the effects of trauma.


  1. How Labels Help: Tame Reactive Emotions by Naming Them. This article explains how naming your emotions can help you keep them under control.

  2. What Trauma Taught me about Resiliency- Charles Hunt, the founder of The Audacity Firm, LLC, uses his personal story of trauma to illustrate that resilience is one of the most important traits to have, is critical to happiness and success, and can be learned.

  3. 8 Ways to Support Students who Experience Trauma- The impacts of trauma can be far-reaching, long-lasting, and impact students' ability to access their education. This article describes eight small ways to make classrooms more friendly and supportive to students managing the impacts of trauma.

  4. Resilience Guide for Parents and Teachers- The American Psychological Association has put together a guide to help our children manage stress and feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.  


  1. Actions of Students in Schools who have Experienced Trauma- This infographic outlines 6 common ways that traumatic experiences may present themselves in the classroom.

  2. Reunion Video- Be prepared with some tissues as you watch this reunion between a student who experienced trauma and her mentor.  The bottom line is this: we need to be there and believe in ALL of our students.

  3. Trauma was Hiding in this School: How Teachers Found Out and what they’re Doing about It- This article introduces a school where trauma runs deep among its students. It discusses behavioral signs they look for and effective strategies used to help students be successful as a whole child.

  4. The Language of Children- This letter, written from the perspective of a child who has experienced trauma, decodes common misunderstandings about behaviors seen in children with these types of adverse experiences.


  1. Respect Agreement Template- This simple template can help you get the conversation started about expectations for respect in the classroom and gives you a place to record the ideas

  2. Teacher-Student Interaction Tracker- Keeping track of positive-negative interactions can be as simple as just keeping a tally on a sticky note. However, if you’re looking for more specific information, this tracker could be a good tool to use during an observation.

  3. Easy Ways to Create Positive Interactions with your Students- While getting to a 5:1 positive-negative interaction ratio may seem daunting, it can be easy and natural. This poster gives you a multitude of ways to incorporate them into your every day with students.

  4. Asking vs. Telling Example- This video helps you assume the role of a child and explore what they are thinking, feeling, and deciding when they are told what to do vs. asked questions. Although this example is for parents, it is easily applicable to the school setting as well.


  1. The Arousal Cycle - This video explains the four steps every time a cycle happens. Traumatized people have a distrust of the natural arousal cycle.

  2. Arousal and Reactivity in PTSD This lists many of the ways that those who experience PTSD deal with arousal and reactivity issues.

  3. Dos and Don’ts of a Trauma-Informed Classroom- This infographic provides six easy tips on how to create a classroom that is sensitive to all of your students’ needs.

  4. How Judges can show Respect- This Judge explains how utilizing simple principles of fairness and treating people with dignity has made an impact and changed lives.  If she can do it in the courtroom, we can do it in schools!

  5. 10 Things about Childhood Trauma Every Teacher Needs to Know- When things get tough and you’re finding it difficult to maintain your affect, these are good reminders of why you shouldn’t take challenging students behaviors personally.

  6. Talking to Teens about Stress - From the APA about talking with Teens about stress.


  1. Avoiding the Savior Complex - In this podcast I riff for a bit about this topic. As educators, we are not the saviors of mankind! We are there to help parents educate their kids. It is not our sole responsibility.

  2. Talking with children about trauma - Tips for parents

  3. Parental responses to child experiences of trauma following presentation at emergency departments: a qualitative study - While a dense read, gives great advice about how to help parents talk with and deal with trauma their child has experienced.

  4. Parenting a Child who has Experienced Trauma Fact Sheet- This brochure gives parents a great starting point to educate them about what trauma is, what causes it, how to identify it, and how to help.

  5. Helping Children Cope with Trauma- Many times parents come to schools to notify them of a traumatic event that has happened in the family (a death, divorce, homelessness etc.).  This site will help you give parents advice on how to handle the traumatic event to lessen or prevent the potential impact it may have on their child.

  6. “When I was Your Age…” - This article addresses common pitfalls when talking with kids about challenges they are facing.


  1. 7 Ways to Practice Emotional First Aid- Psychologist, Guy Winch, lays out seven useful ways to reboot your emotional health

  2. Guided Meditation for Taking Care of Yourself- Follow along with this guided meditation to develop a mindset for self care.

  3. Positive Affirmations for Teachers- Help your teachers maintain a healthy and positive mindset with these posters.