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09 Oct: The Importance of Breathing

The Importance of Breathing By Dr. Rick Robinson I have had the chance to visit a number of schools that are implementing Trauma Informed Practices during the month of September and have often found myself in conversations with educators about ways to maintain feelings of calm and the regulated states that they experienced at the start of the school year. To that end, I would like to talk a bit about an effective, efficient and affordable tool we each have at our immediate disposal – our breathing. A critical element of Trauma Informed Practices involves adults developing day-to-day regulation skills, as well as self-care and wellness skills for the near and long term. Science tells us that only a well-regulated adult…

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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….

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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,…

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05 Sep: The Two Sides of Trauma

The Two Sides of Trauma by Dr. Will Henson One of the most important revelations for educators who adopt a trauma-informed lens is understanding how a student’s dysregulated behavior might be part of “fight or flight” response. For example, a student being confronted by an adult might perceive danger (even where there is none) based on their history. They may then find their heart racing and overall physiology gearing up to meet this imaginary threat. This is what we call “hyperarousal“. When I give trainings on trauma I often carry with me a rubber tarantula which I suddenly place on an unsuspecting educator’s table. I do this to show people that “fight or flight” responses aren’t logical or rational. They involve…

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21 Aug: Pay Attention to What You Want More Of

Pay Attention to What You Want More Of by Will Henson PsyD There’s a simple rule I use when working with kids of all kinds – I pay attention to behaviors I want to see more of. And conversely, I don’t pay attention to behaviors I don’t want. Many educators I’ve observed pay positive attention (e.g praise) to behaviors they like and negative attention (e.g confrontation) to ones they don’t. The problem is that if you do the latter you are letting the child direct your attention, and often the inappropriate behavior is an invitation to you to attend to them in a negative way – such as a power struggle. Try this instead: Show a lot of interest in…

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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…

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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…

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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…