“Your Self Care and Grace chapters motivated me to look hard and long at myself. No one else is going to take care of me and, as a presenter on toxic stress, ACEs and resilience, I felt like I was not heeding my own advice. So now I am. I have been committed to the Self Care project by journaling about my health each day. It has truly helped me to reflect and hold myself accountable and I'm seeing some amazing health-improvement results.
I adapted your piece on fear and include it in the work I do with schools by asking them, "Who is driving your bus?" and "How do you handle fear?"
Thank you for offering your plan in your book. It just made sense to me and still does.”
Toxic Stress, ACE, and Resilience Presenter
"I recently read your book Fostering Resilient Learners and have really enjoyed the read. I found it so refreshing, insightful, and helpful. I particularly enjoyed the self care chapter as I had come out of my own stressful life event and could understand so well the picture painted by upstairs and downstairs brain.
Thank you for these tools."
"I am emailing you to say thank you. After attending training, I brought workshops to my school. With that we began a book study using Fostering Resilient Learners. Your book is to the point, specific and filled with "heart." As someone who did my own trauma work it was nice to bring something to allow teachers to take a more empathetic view."
"I just wanted to thank you both for the amazing book you wrote and the great webinar you ran. Thank you for the amazing work you do to help raise awareness about childhood trauma!
This school year, I began running a book study that meets six times throughout the year. Our elementary principal and a group of of five elementary teachers are reading your book and learning lots of great new things!
I really love the emphasis you place on self-care and relationship-building and think this instantly improves classroom culture and classroom management. Since reading your book, I've focused more on incorporating mindfulness into my day (personally, and for my students) and have made a very deliberate effort to try new relationship-building ideas. I also repeat the phrase, "It's not about me," when reading angry parent emails - this has really helped me to not take things personally and realize that the words being written are the outcome of a parent being in their downstairs brain while just wanting what is best for their child.
Thank you for helping me and helping the teachers in my school become better teachers! I hope to offer another book study course over the summer for teachers K-12 and continue to create a trauma-informed school."
Thank you for writing your book! I am relishing each word. I am a retired school counselor from OH, and now do school presentations especially regarding children of poverty. The trauma piece is so true for them and their families. It is so awesome to have so many of my foundational beliefs verified in your book. I will refer to it often! I already have so many underlinings and margin notes that I really need to buy another copy.
Thank you again for your wonderful work. You are truly making a positive difference in this world.
My eyes were opened to the real and serious impact of trauma on brain development, ability to regulate emotions, and coping skills. Alongside my colleagues, I have learned to view behavior through soft eyes. Instead of falling back on ineffective patterns of reactive and punitive approaches to discipline, I learned proactive and supportive strategies that benefit ALL kids, regardless of their backgrounds and life experiences. Most importantly, these shifts in practice did not cost money or depend upon expensive equipment or programs; they required only time, patience and the willingness to look at behaviors and children through a trauma-informed lens.
The information, strategies and support this book offers is what we need in our profession to truly leave no children behind. In using these strategies with staff in all roles in our building we found a common language in supporting students, addressing concerns, and valuing our response to the whole child. In implementing these strategies you will shift your focus on time spent reacting to student behavior to time spent explaining and preventing student behavior. Once you have ideas on how to prevent getting “sucked into Oz” you can achieve all the goals you have for staff and students.
Over my 25 years as an educator in a low income, highly diverse school setting, I have worked hard to meet the needs of all the kids that come to [this] elementary. Over the years, I have implemented many programs, such as PBIS, WhyTry, and Love and Logic. After working with Kristin Souers over the past few years, I have gained insight into the effects of trauma on the brain and I have learned and incorporated strategies to work with these kids that have allowed me to be a more effective educator for all kids. The most immediate example is a student named “Joe” (name changed to protect student's identity), who was full-time in a self contained behavior intervention room due to the effects of abuse and neglect he suffered early in childhood. “Joe” once recounted the event of his father getting angry at taking his place on the couch, then picking him up and throwing him across the room into a table when he was 5. Needless to say, “Joe” would act out angrily toward any frustration encountered in the classroom. Due to Kristin’s lessons on the Brain, Lid Flip, and Grace, I gained insight into “Joe's” triggers. As a result, I have been able to successfully work and communicate with “Joe” to the point that he has had zero episodes of lid flipping and absolutely no office or disciplinary referrals during the first 2.5 months in my classroom. We have used Kristin's regulation strategies to help him monitor where he is at and help him to be successful in the regular education classroom. In addition, Kristin's guidance has allowed me to take her expertise to the college level pre-service educators as an adjunct professor. I have made it my work to guide MIT students in incorporating trauma sensitive strategies into their student teaching and future careers. With the knowledge I have gained, I hope to change the view on working with kids and allow all teachers and students to reap the benefits of trauma sensitive training that I have been so graciously endowed with due to Kristin Souers.
Former Math Teacher
"I am a former math teacher and usually do not read books. I got yours in the mail before leaving on vacation to Turks and Caicos so I threw it in my bag. I read it in one day!!!"
Head start administrator
The biggest impact in our program so far, is a shift from shame and blame to grace. When faced with challenging behaviors, instead of asking “What’s wrong with that child?” teachers are asking, “What happened to you to make you think this is an OK way to act?” On the surface, this may seem like a small difference in semantics. Actually, it represents a huge shift in underlying beliefs about the function and causes of behavior which leads to a change in how teachers approach both the child and the family.
Training about complex trauma and its potential impacts upon individual students and their families has changed how we think about all of our students across our district. For example, we have instituted several strategies such as Truancy Board which enable a student and his/her parents to receive school and community support for the barriers related to absences, e.g., drugs and alcohol, illness of a parent, depression and mental health issues, and physical illness. The district has hired its first social worker to provide follow-up with students referred to the Truancy Board. There is leadership within the faith-based community to work with our schools to develop a formal mentoring program, too. Schools trained in complex trauma and creating trauma-sensitive environments have been eager to go the next step, become more educated in PBIS or the impact of poverty, and then implement school-wide strategies. Our schools have always been generous around holidays or in response to crisis but many schools have created faith-based and community partnerships to be able to more readily respond to families as their needs arise through conversations and conferences. These are just a few examples of how awareness of and education of complex trauma, and then the reflection and further conversations of impact upon our students and families have created more effective responses at our schools and across our district.
I worked for several years as a school nurse in a district with a high rate of poverty, health disparities, historical trauma and academic failure. I heard incredible stories about the chaos and pain children were exposed to on a regular basis and struggled to find strategies to provide them a sense of trust and safety within their school community. Understanding the impact of complex trauma on child development helped me to be more self-aware and thus able to be present and attuned to students who came to my nurse’s office triggered by some event. As I grew as a nurse, I was better able to help children recognize their own needs and develop skills in self-regulation and interpersonal communication, both vitally important to their health and learning. I also began to understand that children frequently called "frequent flyers" were not just trying to get out of class but were likely seeking something far more important; safety, security, acceptance, reassurance, and connection.
Using trauma informed best practices has been life changing for my students. As an adult, who has had significant trauma, it has also had a huge impact on my life. I have students who have also come from very traumatic situations, so it is important to be informed on how trauma impacts students’ learning. My favorite piece that I use, from pre-school all the way to high school age, is teaching students about how their brain works. Having students come up to me in the hallway and tell me they are not in their “thinking brains” and they are in their “downstairs brains” gives me immediate insight into how a student is feeling. I immediately pull out all my different calming strategies to help coach students back to their “upstairs brains” or their “thinking brains.” As a new school counselor in a title 1 school, having trauma informed best practices has given me a really strong tool belt to help all my students. I get to teach students how to use different techniques for self-care and calming, which in turn has helped me. If a student can learn this at an early age they are going to be way more prepared for post-secondary education, and for a career than someone who does not have these resiliency skills.