The Resilience Code Series
Trauma and Resilience
Certification for Educators
This 9-session professional development series is designed to substantially improve the knowledge and skills of teachers serving students with significant experiences of trauma, poverty and chronic stress. The series is designed to provide monthly training sessions coupled with consultation on implementation and problem-solving. The training sessions are ideally provided in-person, but technological modalities may be used if logistics make in-person training impractical.
While the emphasis is on building teacher skills and concrete practices in the classroom, training experiences also provide the developmental neuroscience basis for the skills being taught. The series design is also intended to allow participants to “stack” skills in that each subsequent training session builds directly on the knowledge and skill base established in the previous session(s). Each training session is 6 hours in length and may be offered in a single session, two 3-hour sessions or three 2-hour sessions. The sessions are also designed on adult learning principles and are engaging, interactive and highly relevant to classroom practice.
In between sessions, participants receive articles and additional tools related to the topic covered in the previous sessions to establish a culture of continuous support and abundant resources. Finally, participants and/or their leaders will have access to telephone, video-conference and email consultation to support implementation and solve implementation problems. The curriculum outlined below describes the essential components of each of the nine sessions in the series. Upon completion of all nine sessions, participants are eligible for certification. If participants successfully complete a comprehensive written exam and demonstrate via video in-classroom demonstration of skills, they will be awarded Certification as a Trauma-Responsive Educational Professional.
Session 1 - Resilience is Everything: How to Start the School Year with Resilience-Building in Mind
Experiences of trauma, poverty and stress have specific, identifiable effects on developing brains. Modern neuroscience has effectively mapped these brain changes, making them reliably predictable. This session teaches participants about the common behavioral and academic habits students with chronic stress histories bring to the classroom. Most importantly, the session introduces and defines the concept of resilience. Resilience-building is the most effective, research-supported response educators can implement to create in students the habits of thinking, feeling and behavior that lead to academic success. Participants will be taught the most important classroom systems and strategies for resilience-building so that they can start the school year prepared and empowered to build student resilience throughout the academic year.
Session 2 - Understanding and Responding to Traumatic Stress in the Classroom
The trauma-informed movement is sweeping through education. Now almost every educator knows something about childhood trauma and its devastating impact on student learning, behavior and quality of life. We also know that building student resilience is the antidote to a traumatic experience. But now that we are trauma-informed, how do we respond? And what about students who do not experience trauma yet suffer the significant challenges of severe anxiety and chronic stress? This session is focused on providing participants with additional knowledge, skills, and structures to continue to build resilience in all students. Resilience empowers every student to achieve success and prepares them for future challenges. Educators can drastically increase student resilience by designing and implementing a resilience-building culture so that each student can heal, grow, learn and thrive. Equally important, participants will be exposed to practices they may be using that erode student resilience and lead to poor outcomes. Participants will learn how to apply additional practical tools to strengthen students’ readiness for instruction and the ability to learn.
Session 3 - Poverty and Learning: The Powerful Impact of Scarcity on the Developing Brain
Research reveals that experiences of chronic poverty powerfully impact how a student thinks, feels and behaves. Because this emerging pattern of thinking, feeling and behavior is often starkly different from those of people not experiencing poverty, helping relationships between the impoverished student and non-impoverished educator can struggle to form, stall midway, or fail altogether. When there are also cultural differences between educators and students, resilience-building relationships can suffer. This workshop provides educational leaders with information and insights on the impact of poverty on the brain and equips them with concrete tools for helping staff build effective relationships with impoverished students that boost student resiliency.
In addition, participants will experience a powerful Poverty Simulation. Research suggests that people think differently and make different decisions under the often overwhelming stress of poverty. In this simulation, participants will join a new city and experience how socio-economic status makes them think, feel and perform. Participants will do their learning through experience as they engage with fellow citizens to meet their needs, form communities and manage stress. Participants will relate to their students in an entirely different way!
Session 4 - Language Strategies for Teachers: How to Talk to Students Effectively to Build Specific Skills
Neuroscience discoveries have revolutionized our understanding of how the brains of students learn and grow. In particular, brain research reveals how the specific language used by adults who teach and counsel students has a much more profound effect on their development than previously realized. In this session, participants will learn eight powerful strategies that can transform the lives of students. Participants will be taught how to talk to students to establish effective listening habits; develop the right mindset in their students around learning; increase students’ memory capacity; build hope and optimism; improve behavior compliance and; help students leverage self-talk for better self-regulation. In addition, participants will learn a language that de-escalates potential crises and powerfully builds positive relationships. What teachers say to students matters and this session instructs teachers on what to say and how to say it.
Session 5 - Becoming a Mental Health Sleuth: How Teachers Can Skillfully Manage Mental Health Issues in the Classroom
Student mental health significantly impacts school attendance, academic performance, social-emotional development and school safety. But teachers are often uninformed about and uncomfortable with how mental health issues manifest in the classroom. This session empowers participants with the “Sherlock Holmes Skills” of awareness, observation, identification and communication of the most common mental health issues in school-aged children. Learning these critical skills will result in early identification of concerns, improved and timelier interventions, effective risk management, stronger parent collaboration and increased student happiness. Participants will immediately improve her/his: 1) Awareness of mental health concerns and how these challenges manifest at various grade levels; 2) Ability to look for and identify the symptoms of some of the most common mental health challenges in the specific context of schools and classrooms and; 3) Commitment to communicating about observed symptoms with professionals and parents to get the earliest and most effective interventions possible.
This session provides the tools for establishing and developing expertise in these “Sherlock Holmes Skills” by providing participants exposure to the key symptoms, causes and interventions for common mental health concerns in school-aged children including depression, anxiety disorders, trauma and stress-related disorders, oppositional disorder, conduct disorder, and attention disorders. Participants will then engage in experiential activities to identify students with each mental health challenge, design effective communication trajectories and implement evidenced-based, behavioral and educational interventions to effectively support students. Using a project-based learning model, participants will collaborate to generate systems approaches to building Sherlock Holmes Skills in every school. Participants will receive a workbook of course materials and a matrix outlining the background, causes, symptoms and foundational interventions for each mental health concern.
Session 6 - Instructional Strategy Reset: Teaching Structures and Techniques for Chronically Stressed Students
This session provides participants an opportunity to evaluate and, if indicated, reset her/his instructional strategies to be consistent with research-supported strategies shown to be effective with students experiencing trauma, poverty and/or chronic stress. Participants will bring academic performance data to the session to identify areas of underperformance and develop a pivot in instructional strategies to address those areas. Participants will learn the most strongly supported instructional strategies for improving academic outcomes for stressed students including: Pre-Assessment; Standards-Based Curriculum Chunking; Engagement and Motivation Structures and Delivery of Academic Feedback. Participants will leave with a specific plan for implementing new instructional practices to positively influence academic outcomes. Coupled with the effective resilience structures learned in the first half of the year, participants can design an academic acceleration plan to move students forward, challenge growth, and build student confidence.
Session 7 - Mastering Executive Function in the Classroom: The Essential Skills for Success
Teaching young minds to think—clearly and efficiently—is a universal goal of teachers and parents alike. Thinking skills such as planning, goal setting, organizing, prioritizing, self-monitoring, accessing working memory, inhibitory (impulse) control and sustaining focused attention are critical to academic, vocational and relationship success at every age. Most important, the development of these skills allows youth to mature into independent, healthy and functional adults. Significantly, students with chronic stress experiences like trauma and poverty have less opportunity and diminished capacity to develop strong executive function skills. Despite the importance of these “executive function” skills, these thinking processes are not systemically taught at home or in schools and are not the focus of mainstream school curriculums. Rather, schools emphasize the content or the “what” of learning. Executive function skills are the “how” of learning.
When a student has poor or underdeveloped executive function skills, they can appear disorganized, unprepared and unmotivated. By providing explicit instruction in executive function processes, parents and teachers can significantly elevate the thinking abilities in their children and students. Participants will learn what constitutes an executive function skill and where these thinking processes happen in the brain; be exposed to the Top 7 Skills for School and Life Success and will be provided with practical tools for identifying and assessing executive function abilities in their students and; be introduced to a variety of exercises and techniques to directly teach the Top 7 Skills to students at every developmental level, pre-school through grade 12.
Session 8 - Resilience for Educators: Managing Your Mind for Optimal Classroom Performance
Education is stressful work. In this session, teachers will learn to respond to the challenges of compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma with resilience and strength. Neuroscience has transformed our understanding of how the adult brain really works. Empowered by this “inside knowledge,” teachers can apply practical, efficient and effective tools to increase performance in the classroom while simultaneously reducing stress and increasing happiness. This session will introduce participants to the science and the strategies behind taking charge of their minds to improve focus, increase mental and physical energy and develop a more effective relationship with some of our most powerful emotions—fear, frustration and anxiety. Participants will learn concrete tools they can use immediately to manage their brain chemistry, train their thinking patterns, and improve their overall well-being. If teachers are to be effective at building resilience in students, they must develop expertise in enhancing their own capacity for resilience.
Session 9 - Evaluation of Resiliency Supports and Interventions: What Worked!
This session will focus on identifying the supports and interventions from the prior sessions that showed a positive impact with students in the classroom. Using a gap analysis and action plan approach, participants will select supports and interventions that were successful and will develop a specific plan for integrating those interventions into the systemic operations of each classroom and the school as a whole going forward. This is an in-depth work session that guides participants through the process of assessing the newly-employed supports and interventions, identifying alignment of those supports with the poverty and trauma needs of students, and systematizing practices deemed effective in supporting students’ capacity to build resilience and thrive. The strategies successful in meeting students’ needs for behavioral support including motivational tools and effective behavioral health structures will be earmarked to become routine practices in how the school(s) operate to create powerful, transformational school cultures that build resilience, prioritize inclusion, equity, optimism and hope.