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Building Resilience in Students Impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences

Building Resilience in Students Impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences
A Whole-Staff Approach

Foreword by Gary R. Howard

December 2019 | 248 pages | Corwin

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

"I cannot think of a book as needed as this one. It provides educators with a deeper understanding of the impact of childhood trauma on the educational experiences of young people, and it also gives us tools to support our students who have the most need while practicing necessary self-care to continue to serve them."

Lydia Adegbola
New Rochelle High School, NY

How many times has an educator flown on a plane and been reminded to first put on his or her own oxygen mask before assisting others? As many times as we have heard this directive, we may not have reflected upon its importance to us. This book provides a wealth of research, resources, and tools to assist any school or district in accomplishing its mission to reach all students and to recognize the impact that ACEs have, first upon the student, but also upon the educator who is likely dealing with the ‘fallout’ of each student’s experiences. Never have I seen such a comprehensive book that provides both research and potential solutions in the form of systems and approaches. This is a must read for all educators!”

Lynn Lisy-Macan
University at Albany-SUNY

Adequately covering the content is one thing, but actually relating the material to all of us who work in education by providing stories makes this book even more meaningful and powerful. Whether you are a superintendent or a custodian, Building Resilience in Children Impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences is impactful and will change the way you view ACEs.

Dustin Johnson
High Point University

This entire book helps readers understand that kids may not be victims, but they are equally traumatized when they see things happening to those around them. It demonstrates that second-hand trauma does indeed exist. It goes a step further and has the reader analyze how he or she would react and how to go about creating a plan of action and then reviewing the plan. How can we go any further if we don’t look at our interventions? This is a practical book that educators needed yesterday. Using it equips school counselors, nurses, social workers, and teachers with the knowledge and tools to help children through trauma.”

Delsia Malone
AL Department of Early Childhood Education

This book is very important and relevant for practitioners. This is a topic that is so important right now—there are many children who struggle because of early traumatic experiences and act out in the classroom—and there are few resources to help a classroom teacher understand and instruct them. This book includes strategies that a school can take to meet these challenges and help to make life and learning better for these students. In a so-called ‘regular classroom’ those challenges are possibly fewer in number, but they are still there—students with ACEs are in all classrooms, and the approach advocated by the book’s authors is very useful to teachers.”

Rebecca Rupert
Monroe County Community School Corporation, Bloomington, IN

This book addresses a critical area of need in today’s society, which spills over into our classrooms and schools. It 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. Thank you for this important work! Every educator must read this book!”

Marine Avagyan
Saugus Union School District, Sunland, CA

"For TESOL professionals, who often find themselves on the forefront of the “new normal” and are the closest to students whose behavior may express how they feel better than their limited English ability can, this book, with the transformational pedagogy it represents, is indispensable."


Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1 - Romero

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781544319414