I’m delighted to share that my new book Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools: Your Guide to Creating Safe, Supportive Learning Environments for All Students will be released in early 2019 and is now available for pre-order from Brookes Publishing.
This book is really about one word — hope. It’s about cultivating hope for all students, including the many who have been affected by childhood trauma. And, it’s also about kindling hope for educators who want to make a positive difference but may feel overwhelmed by the behavioral and academic challenges caused by trauma.
We now know more than ever about the neuroscience of toxic stress, including how it affects youth in their development. We also understand much about how to help and promote resilience; showing that relationships come first is key. The great news is that when we implement trauma-responsive strategies and build trauma-sensitive schools, we help all youth, not only those who have experienced trauma. In fact, entire communities can be transformed.
Step by step, I walk readers through learning about the effects of childhood trauma, explain the paradigm shifts necessary for beginning to help traumatized students, and detail how we can use a trauma-informed response to intervention (RTI) process to meet the needs of all kids. We do this in trauma-sensitive schools by actively and intentionally working together to help students feel safe, be connected, get regulated, and learn. Incorporating restorative discipline practices is also important in trauma-sensitive schools, and I explain how to get started. Throughout, I emphasize that we must take care of ourselves and our colleagues so that we can be well while doing our jobs well.
While this book has always been a professional project aimed at helping both certified and noncertified educators in practical ways, writing it was also personal for me. That’s because I’m a presenter and educator with experience helping students (some traumatized, some not) as a former special education teacher and current school counselor, and I’m also an experienced parent in the world of trauma.
When I began writing the book more than a decade ago, I had a rather naive sense of hope about how to help youth who have been deeply hurt. It didn’t take long for trauma to teach me a thing or two though — namely that its effects can make things downright messy and hard. I often compare my years of dancing with trauma as being a bit like a trek down the rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll’s (1865) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Sometimes, it feels like everything I have ever known or believed has not only been turned upside down but has also been twisted inside out or distorted altogether.
Along the way, I lost several chapters in a computer crash and then, put the manuscript on hold. Eventually, I unearthed my old drafts, laughed at some of the ideas from my earlier years, and ultimately had a little talk with myself by saying, “I see how deeply you’ve cared and how you’ve never given up. There have been no quick fixes, but you have learned lots, the progress has been meaningful, and you have never stopped trying your heart out. Every kid is worth it. You have lived and breathed this truth so dig in and reach out to other helpers. We have important work to do together. It will take knowledge in our heads and compassion in our hearts. Let’s get to it.” With that, I began the process of rewriting the chapters.
The book is better now than it ever would have been before, offering more truth and more genuine help for educators who are truly changing brains and changing the world — one relationship at a time. To check it out and to order, click here. I very much look forward to partnering with readers as we do this important work of building trauma-sensitive schools.
Want to learn more right away? Consider joining me in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Monday, January 21, 2019 for Ms. Jen’s Level I Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training. Check out my website at MsJenAlexander.com for more information.