Will Henson

Close-up of teacher’s computer monitor

23 Nov: Positive Experience is the Medicine Students Need

By Dr. Will Henson Trauma-informed practices are becoming the new norm. One of the key parts of this whole movement is that educators have stopped focusing on just the student, and started changing the practice to also focus on adults. We have realized the importance of prioritizing safety, establishing predictability and building relationships. It’s amazing how it can impact our students when we focus on the things we as educators can control. How does all this help, and ultimately, change the kids we work with? I’ve talked in the past about how interventions that target only our thinking brain – the prefrontal cortex – are not enough. Interventions like talking through problems, being taught skills, or being given incentives are…

d-a-v-i-d-s-o-n-l-u-n-a-2gSfZ9Baph8-unsplash

17 Dec: Holiday Break Wellness

Holiday Break Wellness  by Dr. Will Henson Since I started working in the world of education, and especially since diving deep into trauma-informed practices, I have realized the importance of educator wellness.   Education is a relational business, one in which we don’t just bring our skills, but ourselves. We can’t fill the needs of students if our own cup is empty. Our ability to be whole and healthy is at the heart of how successfully we educate.   Despite what the holiday season is supposed to represent, it can often be synonymous with stress. You’ve got two weeks off! Let’s talk about how to use it.   Here are three tips for being well this season: Be Present. Instead of spending…

Change your mindset!

09 Dec: Educators: Three Helpful Mindset Shifts

Educators: Three Helpful Mindset shifts More and more, educators are encountering challenging student behaviors. While we may be making progress in identifying students who need extra support, and providing services for these individuals, educators can still get in their own way when it comes to addressing challenging behavior. A lack of recognition about the way that Adverse Childhood Experiences influence behavior can lead to undesirable outcomes. Here are a few unproductive ways I sometimes hear educators use to try to resolve challenging behavior: What will he (or she) work for? This and other variations of thinking “we just need to find the right motivator” is an unreliable approach. Children with behavioral issues can not suddenly acquire the frontal lobe functioning…

feliphe-schiarolli-hes6nUC1MVc-unsplash-1

12 Nov: 60% of Educators Have NO Training in Trauma-Informed Practices

60% of Educators have NO training in Trauma-Informed Practices. By Dr. Will Henson I’ve been working with kids with challenging behavior for 28 years. I use trauma-informed practices because they are the most effective intervention I’ve found.  As a consultant, I’ve gone to this almost exclusively and moved my client districts toward this. I often wonder: why isn’t everyone using this approach? A recent study showed that while 63% of educators had been trained to use PBIS, and 52% had training in de-escalation strategies only 27% of educators had training in Trauma-Informed practices (another 13% were unsure if they had). Meanwhile, data shows that up to 45% of students in school today are reporting the critical level of 3 or…

Frustrated boy

29 Oct: What Does Being “Trauma-Informed” Really Mean?

What Does Being “Trauma-informed” Really Mean? By Dr. Will Henson I was recently asked to consult on the case of a young man with fairly severe behavior issues.  When I arrived to meet with his school team, they described to me a student who had a substantial trauma history. I asked if they knew what Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) were, and if they had been through trauma-informed training. The team said they had been through training, which consisted of a book study, and they felt that everyone was well-versed in trauma-informed practices. Then they handed me the student’s behavior plan. Nothing in the plan reflected trauma-informed interventions. None of the responses, none of the proactive strategies, and none of the…

shutterstock_12040321

01 Oct: Self-Care for School Staff

SELF CARE FOR SCHOOL STAFF Staff self-care has become an increasingly salient topic in education over the last several years. As educators learn more about trauma we; (a) Understand the increasing demands on us to be well-regulated so we can help other students feel safe (b) Recognize the impact of stress on our own well-being, health and performance (c) Acknowledge that students are not the only ones that have ACEs. Learning about ACEs often leads us to see the ongoing impact of our own adverse experiences. In this post I want to talk about self-care with the hope educators can both understand what it means to engage in self-care, and give you some strategies to get going! Self-Care Mindset 1….

shutterstock_151905908

19 Sep: How do kids achieve success?

How do kids achieve success?  When I consult on cases for school districts, I often find that students who are failing have encountered one of two polarities: (a) People have given them too little support or (b) People have lowered their expectations of them. It’s hard to wrap our minds around the idea of doing two things at once; simultaneously giving a student more support while at the same time expecting more. In order to do these together let’s look at both: SUPPORT is helping a student grow. It’s not doing things for them, or letting them play on an ipad all day. Support is assistance that helps lead a student to action. It could be believing in them, encouraging,…

Flames Clip Art 22584

02 Aug: Proactive or Reactive?

PROACTIVE OR REACTIVE? Imagine a friend tells you they have had three major kitchen fires in the last week and asks you what to do next time it happens. Are you going to teach them how to use a fire extinguisher? How to dial the fire department faster? You are probably going to wonder what in the world is going on in that kitchen that causes fires to keep happening. Whenever I give a talk on behavior, educators throw me scenarios where wildly dysregulated kids are doing dangerous things and they ask for solutions. The problem is that their question starts when they are pretty much out of options. The real magic of managing behavior (and kitchen fires) isn’t in…

boundaries sign

20 Jul: Personal and Professional Boundaries- Protective Strategies

Personal and Professional Boundaries: Protective Strategies In the last post I talked about 5 types of personal and professional boundaries. In this post I’m going to cover a few key protective strategies you can use to protect yourself : 1. Documentation: When something happens that makes you feel uncomfortable, such as a student tries to cross one of your boundaries, document it and tell colleagues about it so you have a record. 2. Prepare Responses: Prepare responses for when students attempt to cross one of your boundaries. 3. Double Coverage: When working with a student that may attempt to violate boundaries (especially physical or sexual boundaries) make sure you are never alone with that student. We’ve included more detail on…

boundary field

11 Jul: Monthly Series: Personal and Professional Boundaries

PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL BOUNDARIES Maintaining healthy personal and professional boundaries is an important skill for educators. The more support a student needs from you, the more you need to be aware of special circumstances and issues around personal and professional boundaries. In this post I’m going to review some of the types of boundaries that educators need to know about. Staff-Student Boundary: This involves differentiating yourself as an adult and a staff member. If you dress or act like a student or if you engage in too much joking around, you will jeopardize your ability to work effectively with students. Work-Home Boundary: This boundary involves keeping your personal life separate from your work life. You should not visit or communicate…