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…


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…

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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) *…


15 Apr: 5 Second Interventions

5 Second Interventions by Dr. Will Henson I spend a lot of my time training staff and consulting to districts about challenging behavior. In almost every training I get the same question which is some version of this: “How do I find the time in my busy schedule to do all these behavior interventions?” It’s true that many interventions taught today require a lot of time of the educator. We are told to make plans, check in, teach skills, help the student evaluate their progress, stop and listen (etc…). Many of these require between five and fifteen minutes – or more! So in this post I’d like to talk about four interventions that take only between 1 and 5 seconds….

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10 Apr: Better Together: A Trauma Informed Approach to SEL Guide Available

Although they are commonly thought of as two separate initiatives, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and trauma informed practices support student growth more effectively when they are implemented together. SEL and trauma informed practices have many conceptual and practical similarities. At the same time, each has unique components that can help make the other more effective in helping students learn and grow. As educators look for ways to more effectively support student growth, there is logic in considering SEL and trauma informed practices not as separate or competing mechanisms, but as practices that work better together.  This guide provides examples of ways SEL and trauma informed practices, implemented together, offer a more powerful and comprehensive support for student growth than either can…

EdWeek Interventions

02 Apr: Why Aren’t Our Behavior Interventions Working?

Why Aren’t Our Behavior Interventions Working? by Dr. Will Henson If you missed our recent webinar with Education Week on this same topic, please check it out here. In this post, I’d like to discuss one of the key reasons why school-based behavior interventions work. As educators, we like interventions that make logical sense. It makes sense that: (a) If you do something right, you should get some kind of reward (b) If you do something wrong, there should be some type of consequence (c) If something goes wrong, you should come up with a plan to fix it (d) If you have consistent trouble in an area, you may need to learn some new skills to help you do better….

Self Care

25 Mar: Trauma Informed Series Exercises- Week 8- Self-Care Primer

WEEK EIGHT: SELF-CARE PRIMERby Dr. Will Henson We are at the end of our eighth week, and this week we are going to get you started thinking about self-care. Answer these questions for yourself or with your team! (a) Why would wellness and self-care be important for educators working with students?(b) Is self-care selfish? When is it selfish and when is it not?(c) What benefits do staff who take care of themselves give to students? To their co-workers?(d) What do you think the difference is between the term “wellness” and the term “self-care”? Please share with us some of your highlights from the 8-week series, or post your plans for moving forward! We’d love to hear from you about how…


18 Mar: Trauma Informed Series Exercises – Week 7- Relationship Builders

WEEK SEVEN: RELATIONSHIP BUILDERS by Dr. Will Henson Relationships are a critical component of working with kids who have ACEs. Kids who have ACEs take longer to trust adults and need more repetitions of positive adult interactions to help them succeed. So pick a kid. Any kid. You may or may not know they have ACEs. This week, you are going to have three positive interactions with that kid each day. Maybe it’s listening to them talk about something they are into. Maybe you are going to give a few more compliments, notice some more of their appropriate behavior, or just say hello. Three times a day. One week. And you have to mean it. You can’t fake a relationship!…