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Teaching, Learning, and Trauma, Grades 6-12

Teaching, Learning, and Trauma, Grades 6-12
Responsive Practices for Holding Steady in Turbulent Times

Foreword by Diane Sweeney

July 2020 | 176 pages | Corwin

Transform challenging classroom experiences into opportunities for lasting student-teacher relationships, professional growth, and student engagement 

Chronic stress, anxiety, and trauma have startling effects on teachers and students. The pandemic and distance learning have exacerbated behavior issues and emotional dysregulation, making it difficult for students to engage, learn, and maintain healthy self-esteem. 

In Teaching, Learning, and Trauma, the authors guide you through the process of creating a learning environment that combats the negative effects of chronic stress and trauma. They show you how to establish rituals and routines, develop personalization, and implement effective student engagement practices that create a relationship-based culture and effectively improve student achievement. This book includes:

  • Self-assessment tools to help teachers make informed decisions
  • Examples of self-care plans and schoolwide policies for maintaining healthy boundaries in and out of school
  • Real-world vignettes and samples of teacher work
  • Planning documents and reflection questions to guide educators in identifying strengths and growth areas

Using a synergistic approach, this book unites compelling research data, theories, stories, and best practices from trauma-informed schools, relationship-based psychology, and effective instructional design to dissolve obstacles caused by chronic stress and trauma.

Foreword by Diane Sweeney
About the Authors
The Intersection of Teaching, Learning, and Mental Health

The Integrated Approach: Using the Five Lenses

Intended Audience and Outcome

Organizational Features of This Book

Why This Book, and Why Now?

Essential Background Knowledge: ACEs

The Impact of ACEs on Learning

Chapter 1. In Their Natural Habitat: Understanding and Teaching Adolescent Learners With Chronic Stress and Trauma
Understanding Adolescent Learners With Chronic Stress and Trauma: Why Is It Important?

Student Experience

Adult Experience

Foundation for Effective Practice #1: Adolescent Development—My Brain Made Me Do It

Foundation for Effective Practice #2: Identity Formation—Who Am I?

Foundation for Effective Practice #3: Risk-Taking and Psychological Safety

What Works in the Classroom: Adolescent-Centered Teaching and Learning

Taking Understanding School-Wide

Chapter 2. Self-Regulation Is the Key to Calm
Self-Regulation: Why Is It Important?

Student Experience

Adult Experience

Foundation for Effective Practice #1: Understanding the Body’s Reaction to Stress and Dysregulation

Foundation for Effective Practice #2: Strategies for Regulating

Foundation for Effective Practice #3: Don’t Take It Personally

What Works in the Classroom: Cultivating Self-Regulation

Taking Self-Regulation School-Wide

Chapter 3. Self-Care: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
Self-Care: Why Is It Important?

Student Experience

Adult Experience

Foundation for Effective Practice #1: Avoiding Burnout

Foundation for Effective Practice #2: Recognizing Vicarious Trauma

Foundation for Effective Practice #3: Navigating Mixed Messages and Cultural Norms

What Works in the Classroom: Translating Self-Care Into Teaching and Learning Practices

Taking Self-Care School-Wide

Chapter 4. Know Me to Teach Me
Knowing Students Well: Why Is It Important?

Student Experience

Adult Experience

Foundation for Effective Practice #1: Listen

Foundation for Effective Practice #2: Provide Choices

Foundation for Effective Practice #3: Trust Their Wisdom

What Works in the Classroom: Knowing Students Well

Taking Knowing Others School-Wide

Chapter 5. Healthy Relationships in Complicated Times
Healthy Relationships: Why Are They Important?

Student Experience

Adult Experience

Foundation for Effective Practice #1: Defining Boundaries

Foundation for Effective Practice #2: Creating Awareness

Foundation for Effective Practice #3: Setting Limits

Foundation for Effective Practice #4: Accepting Personal Responsibility

What Works in the Classroom: Cultivating Healthy Relationships

Taking Healthy Relationships School-Wide

Chapter 6. Conflict Resolution: What to Do When Things Fall Apart
Conflict Resolution: Why Is It Important?

Student Experience

Adult Experience

Foundation for Effective Practice #1: Punishment Doesn’t Work

Foundation for Effective Practice #2: Ownership, Accountability, and Empathy Matter

Foundation for Effective Practice #3: Clear Communication Is the Ticket

Foundation for Effective Practice #4: Assume Good Intentions

Foundation for Effective Practice #5: Preparation Is Key

What Works in the Classroom: Accommodating Conflict

Taking Conflict Resolution School-Wide

Chapter 7. Integrating It All
Integrating Practices in Teaching, Learning, and Mental Health: Why Is It Important?

Student Experience

Adult Experience

What Works in the Classroom: Teaching and Learning With Trauma in Mind

Foundation for the Integrated Learning Model #1: Social Capital

Foundation for the Integrated Learning Model #2: Self-Efficacy

Foundation for the Integrated Learning Model #3: Locus of Control

Taking the Integrated Model School-Wide


"After 30 years in education, I rarely come across books that provide NEW ideas and provoke strong debate among my colleagues. THIS is that book. It is filled with stories and linked knowledgecrucial information, reallythat reflects the reality and truth of our relationships in schools. The stories are told with nuance and grace and demand attention, consideration, and conversation in order to increase the odds that schools can truly continue to develop better humans–students and their teachers alike–every day. The authors live this truth. I believe them and I aspire to work with a fraction of their intensity, knowledge, passion, and skill to serve young adults and grownup educators."

Sam Bennett
Instructional Coach, Education Consultant, Author of "That Workshop Book"

"Oh boy, do I need this book! If you work with teens, you know they can be quirky. Add chronic stress and trauma to the mix and one can feel at a loss on how to keep the teaching and learning going. If this is a trend you are noticing, this book will not only explain why teens act the way they do, but also provide instructional strategies that honor and harness their behaviors—and your own—to keep engagement high. The authors help readers understand the science behind teen behaviors, provide useful strategies to re-engage students, and give you hope that you can continue to do the job you love of teaching teens! Teaching, Learning, and Trauma is a must-have for any educator working with adolescents—a just-right book for our complicated times." 

Cris Tovani
Teacher, Author of "I Read It But I Don't Get It"

“Successful schools are not transactional. Rather, they operate as healthy communities where teachers and students understand one another as people, and from that foundation build meaningful working relationships. In their new book, Teaching, Learning, and Trauma, O’Drobinak and Kelley offer teachers and administrators the practical tools necessary to build these types of school communities. Thoughtfully grounded in the realities of the classroom, the book explores real-world scenarios with which each of us is familiar and provides an account of how to transform those challenging classroom experiences into opportunities for lasting professional growth.”

Michael J. O’Hagan
President, Arrupe Jesuit High School

"This book goes beyond giving tips on classroom management. The authors do a great job not just focusing on student stress, but also on teacher stress and how to mitigate it. They give the educator an opportunity to step into a student’s shoes while bringing in cultural awareness that extends across all races and social economic classes."

Kendra Simmons
Educational Consultant, Center for the Advancement of Transformative Education (CATE)

"Teaching, Learning, and Trauma offers a compelling message of hope for educators across all disciplines. It moves from an idea to implementation and is easy to read for busy educators. It offers practical solutions for facilitating the process of handling chronic stress in schools and is the one tool that will enhance the culture and performance of one’s school."

Debra Paradowski,
Associate Principal, Arrowhead Union High School, WI

"Emotional trauma can influence all parts of the school experience for both students and adults. This book is a great resource and a reminder of the importance of building relationships."

Lena Marie Rockwood, Ed.D.
Assistant Principal, Revere High School, MA

"This book is highly relevant to the changing landscape of teaching and learning. Teaching with trauma-informed practices is extremely important and necessary for today’s learners. The authors offer practical strategies to assist the teacher to create a safe environment for all student...and themselves."

Brenda Green
Staff Development Teacher, Cabin John Middle School, MD

"Authors Brooke and Beth have a genuine warm approach to topics educators have wrestled with over the years. This book uses stories that one can relate to and that are relevant to all educators, especially at the secondary level where teens are experiencing trauma and schools are not equipped to handle it. "

Sari Glazebrook
LCSW, CADC, EMDR Trained, North Suburban Special Education District, IL

"This is an invaluable resource for teachers and administrators who are serving students who experience chronic stress and trauma. Each chapter provides real-world examples, resources, and strategies that can be implemented immediately in order to mitigate the impact of chronic stress for both teachers and students."

Jennifer Craft
Supervisor, Secondary English Language Arts and Literacy, Montgomery County Public Schools, MD

"Teaching, Learning, and Trauma is well-written, with strong examples and clear expertise of the subject matter from the authors. This book aims to sincerely help educators."

Steve Reifman
National Board Certified Elementary School Teacher and Author, Santa Monica-Malibu USD, CA

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