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17 Sep: Personal & Professional Boundaries: Self-Disclosure

By Dr. Will Henson In writing our Personal and Professional boundaries video for the ParaSharp© series, we outlined several important boundaries educators needed to be aware of. One that needs some important discussion as the school year gets started is maintaining healthy boundaries around self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is talking and sharing information about yourself.  Here are some things to remember to keep self-disclosure healthy and helpful to your students: The Headline Rule: Before you disclose something, think about how it might sound as the headline on tomorrow’s newspaper. Imagine that you tell students that since you are an adult you drink beer and think this is okay. The headline might read “Mrs. Smith Defends her Drinking Habit.” The Political Campaign Rule: Before you disclose something, imagine you…

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06 Sep: Starting the Year Off…Hard or Soft?

Starting the Year Off…Hard or Soft? by Dr. Will Henson It’s time to meet this year’s group of students.  How do you start the year off right?  Some say you start with a softer, relational approach, get to know students and then lay down the law. Some say you start off hard, and let kids know you aren’t messing around.  So, who is right?   Well,  the answer is neither.  It’s just as bad to be too soft as it is to be too hard. Here are three things you need to know to set the year off right: Make your expectations clear: From the start, let the students know what you expect out of them.  Don’t wait until they mess…

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26 Aug: Willow’s Cousin Luna

Willow’s Cousin Luna by Dr. Rick Robinson My friend and colleague, Will Henson, beautifully described the attunement and connection process in his wonderful blog, My Friend Willow.  He relays to us the importance of our nonverbal presence and how we can signal safety to another being with the tone of our voice, pace of our movements, facial expressions, and body posture. And critically, when Willow is allowed to approach people at her own pace she has a much better chance to successfully manage feelings of threat. It turns out that, in a coincidence far to big to ignore, I too have learned a lot from a little white rescue dog.  Luna was feral during her puppyhood, and the spunk and…

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05 Aug: My Friend Willow

My Friend Willow by Dr. Will Henson My friend Willow came and visited our house last week. Willow is a little white dog and she’s a rescue. I don’t know what happened to Willow but she certainly has plenty of signs of trauma. She is afraid of new people, especially men. She growls when unknown people come too close. But it’s pretty easy to win Willow over. In fact, what I find is that most people intuitively know how to work with her as long as I tell them she’s had trauma. Once they get that she’s had a difficult past, they move slower, talk softer, and allow Willow to approach them. I think all this is made easier because…

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09 Jul: Sunshine, Skills, and Solutions

by Dr. Rick Robinson For most of you, the school year has ended, and perhaps enough time has passed that your fatigue is being replaced with a bit of energy and focus on recreation, gardening and other such things. I wanted to share a couple of thoughts you might find helpful as we move into summer. About 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a training program that was conducted by Dr. Bruce Perry, a leading expert in the field of child maltreatment and trauma. He introduced us to a concept, “State Dependent Functioning,” that has not only informed my practice in working with children and adolescents, but also hinted at ways an enjoyable summer in the…

06 Jun: End of Year Transition Strategies for Students with ACES

Year End Transition Strategies for Students with ACES by Dr. Rick Robinson I have visited a number of schools over the last month, collaborating with them on their implementation of trauma informed practices, or a “Culture of Care.” Teams have been working hard to both consolidate progress that has been made this year, and to outline next steps for the coming school year and the strategies they will use to implement them. Importantly, regardless of the specific strategies that are adopted, we think predictability and relational safety are the pillars upon which a Culture of Care rests, and provides the overall sense of well-being and safety students need to optimally develop. It is inspiring to hear stories from educators regarding…

29 May: Let It Go

Let it Go by Dr. Will Henson I was recently consulting at a school on the Oregon coast. A student was sent to the office because he was extremely dysregulated and was causing problems in the class. I knew this student was often highly reactive to small problems and I had consulted with the principal about him many times. It was apparent he was not ready to talk and process what happened, so I ended up playing a card game with him. After our first game, he wanted to play another, so I said, “Okay, but only if you do something for me.” He looked suspicious, but I explained the plan as follows; “If I play another game with you,…

13 May: Teaching Social and Emotional Skills

Teaching Social and Emotional Skills A person’s emotional world is governed by the limbic system. Academic learning processes like analysis take place in a person’s neocortex. Research shows that the limbic system learns best through three processes:(a) Motivation(b) Extended Practice and(c) Feedback So let’s talk about what this means for the teaching of social and emotional skills to kids: The standard academic sit and get approach isn’t going to be very helpful in helping kids learn social and emotional skills. Social and emotional skills have to be learned and ingrained in the neurotransmitters and neural pathways of the limbic system. Here are a few things to keep in mind when teaching social and emotional skills: (1) Create Intrinsic Motivation: Make…

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30 Apr: Regulation: The Most Important Skill of All

Regulation: The Most Important Skill of All There are a lot of important social and emotional skills that kids (and adults) need in order to do the core tasks of life: be happy, make good choices, deal with difficult situations, succeed at school and work, form lasting relationships (and so on). But of all the skills people need, there is nothing more important than the ability to self-regulate. In our videos and materials we talk a lot about how regulation is about more than just emotions.  Regulation includes the ability to manage one’s: * attention (being able to direct and sustain attention the right things) * emotions (being able to feel feelings and manage them without over-reacting to them) *…