Building Resilience in Students Impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences
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Building Resilience in Students Impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences

A Whole-Staff Approach
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Victoria E. Romero
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Adobe DRM [Hard-DRM]

Nearly half of all children have been exposed to at least one adverse childhood experience such as poverty, divorce, neglect, substance abuse or parent incarceration. This book uses trauma-informed strategies to show how to make a whole-school change to establish a healthy social-emotional climate for students and the staff who support them.

Use trauma-informed strategies to give students the skills and support they need to succeed in school and life

Nearly half of all children have been exposed to at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE), such as poverty, divorce, neglect, homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence, or parent incarceration. These students often enter school with behaviors that don’t blend well with the typical school environment. How can a school community come together and work as a whole to establish a healthy social-emotional climate for students and the staff who support them? 

This workbook-style resource shows K-12 educators how to make a whole-school change, where strategies are integrated from curb to classroom. Readers will learn how to integrate trauma-informed strategies into daily instructional practice through expanded focus on:

  • The different experiences and unique challenges of students impacted by ACEs in urban, suburban, and rural schools, including suicidal tendencies, cyberbullying, and drugs

  • Behavior as a form of communication and how to explicitly teach new behaviors

  • How to mitigate trauma and build innate resiliency through a read, reflect, and respond model 

Let this book be the tool that helps your teams move students away from the school-to-prison pipeline and toward a life rich with educational and career choices.

"I cannot think of a book more needed than this one.  It gives us the tools to support our students who have the most need while practicing the self-care necessary to continue to serve them."

—Lydia Adegbola, Chair of English Department
New Rochelle High School, NY 

"This book highlights the impact of trauma on children and the adults who work with them, while providing relevant and practical strategies to understand and address it through reflective practices."

—Marine Avagyan, Director, Curriculum and Instruction
Saugus Union School District, Sunland, CA

Transform your school with trauma-informed strategies for teacher and student well-being. Learn more about consulting.

Foreword by Gary R. Howard



About the Authors

Chapter 1 ACEs and the New Normal

ACEs Are an Equal Opportunity Occurrence

Lost in Translation

The New Normal

Chapter 2 Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask Before Helping Others

Burnout or Compassion Fatigue?

The New Normal: A Case Study Intervention

Self-Care Is an Ethical Imperative


Chapter 3 It’s Easy to Have High Expectations—Hard to Grow a New Mindset

Knowing Myself Precedes Teaching Students

Knowing My Students and Knowing Pedagogy-Growing Mindset

Knowing My Strengths, Knowing the Strengths of My Students Fosters Resiliency

“I Can’t Learn From You Because You’re White”

Progress Not Perfection

Knowing Myself and Responding to Change Are About Self-Care

Knowing Myself Matters—Because When Negative Bias Shows Up, Students Are Miseducated

Good Teaching Is Not Enough—The New Normal Warrants Transformationist Teaching

Chapter 4 The Effects of Trauma on the Brain

Acknowledging That Trauma Is Sitting in the Classroom Is Transformational Teaching

ACEs and Learning

ACEs and Behavior

Trauma Has Many Forms

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Chapter 5 Teaching Behaviors, Differentiating Interventions, Changing Pedagogy

Relationships Precede Learning

Talk, Trust, Feel, Repair

Schools and Classrooms Have a Culture and Culture Is Learned

Response to Intervention (RTI)

Looking at Behavior Management Through a Trauma-Informed Lens

Change Is Hard and Leadership Matters

Talk, Trust, Feel, Repair: My Rookie Year

Schools Are Ideal for Social Working

Chapter 6 Plan With the End in Mind: Visioning a Compassionate School

The Innovative School District PreK–12th Grades

SEL Data Team/Self-Assessment Checklist

Case Study: ISD’s Response to Behavior Interventions

Changing Positions to Change Lives

What Does It Mean to Work in a Trauma-Informed School or School District?

Chapter 7 From Theory to Practice: Transformationist Actions Convert ACEs to Aces

Transformationist Schools and School Districts

Transformationist Instructional Staff

Transformationist School Counselors and School-Based Social Workers

Transformationist School Psychologists and School Nurses

Transformationist Support Staff (Office, Cafeteria, Custodial, Bus Drivers)

Chapter 8 The Process, the Plan, the Transformation

The Process

Step 1: Assessing Capacity

Step 2: Building Capacity

Step 3: Implementation

Step 4: Evaluating Program Effectiveness

Where Is Our Sense of Urgency?

The Plan: Implementation Guide to Transformation


Evaluation and Planning

Chapter 9 In Their Own Words

Antwone Fisher

Cleressa Brown

Conor Black

Maria Gonzales

The Salomon Martinez Family

Additional Reading and Resources

Glossary of Terms