Creating Trauma-Informed Classrooms & Putting Kids First with Dr. Kristen Miller
February 15, 2022
Creating Trauma-Informed Classrooms & Putting Kids First with Dr. Kristen Miller
We don’t build houses without first laying a solid foundation. So why do we expect children to learn without first making sure they feel safe and secure?

COVID has been a complex trauma for us all, yet we’re pushing on rather than taking the time to process the information and being mindful of what students (and teachers!) are experiencing. Because if students aren’t regulated, they cannot process academic content.

On this episode, Dr. Kristen Miller of With Heart Project is sharing her research on the brain and why, when we take the time to make sure our students feel safe and that they belong, academic retention and scores increase dramatically.

In the episode, she shares her perspective on positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), acute vs. complex trauma, how trauma changes people, how teachers can meet the demands of students, and so much more.

About Dr. Kristen Miller:

Following a three-year engineering career, Kristen Miller spent 13 years in education teaching predominantly high school mathematics, AVID and Career Technical Education, and serving as a middle school Vice Principal in Northern California.

Seeing a huge need for high quality social and emotional interventions, systems and supports, Miller created a youth empowerment organization, With Heart Project (WHP), to work alongside schools and districts promoting Social-Emotional Wellness (SEL), Restorative Practices (RP), and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).

In her inaugural year, she partnered with a high poverty middle school in Northern California to create and implement practices, processes, and procedures to decrease student suspension rates and increase academic achievement. Her results were remarkable. Her efforts yielded a 79% growth in Common Core Mathematics achievement, as well as reduction in discipline and attendance infractions, increase in GPA, and increase in math and reading grade levels among at-risk students.

Jump in the Conversation:

[3:13] – The impact of restorative practices
[6:14] – You have to pair amends with accountability
[7:17] – PBIS – positive behavioral interventions and supports
[8:04] – Social emotional learning
[8:04] – PBIS is just good teaching, good education
[9:22] – Trauma informed teaching and learning
[12:28] – COVID causes dysregulation
[13:22] – Kristen’s pre-pandemic research
[16:38] -What educators need to be focused on
[18:55] – We’re all experiencing acute trauma right now
[19:38] – How to help teachers meet these demands
[22:36] – Getting into policy side of things
[25:08] – Turbo Time
[29:22] – Kristen’s Magic Wand
[31:14] – Maureen’s takeaways

Links & Resources



Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at Education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of Ed active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:08
Today’s speaker really has important information for where we are. As a country and world right now. We’re learning so much about how the human brain works, and how past experiences impact our present. It’s time to apply this learning to Education. Dr. Kristen Miller of the With Heart Project has done just that. She has researched the brain and working with middle school students proven that when we take time to make sure our students feel safe, and that they belong, scores increase dramatically. We need schools to be safe places of love and belonging. Taking time for that will increase learning. Brain Research tells us that now let’s listen to Kristen Miller. Tell us more.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:11
Hi, Kristen, it is so good to have you on our education evolution podcast.

Kristen Miller 2:17
Thank you so much for having me, Maureen. I really appreciate so so awesome to be back.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:22
Yay, listeners. Today I am talking with the newly minted Dr. So this is Dr. Kristen Miller of the with Heart Project. And Kristen was our guest in Episode 52. Her message of attending to the well being of learners, before the academics is more important than ever. So Kristen, let’s dive in.

Kristen Miller 2:49
Awesome. Looking forward to it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:51
Kristin, I’m just wondering, you are so passionate about your project. Where did this begin? What’s your Genesis story? Because I think a lot of our education evolution folks have had something important that’s kind of launched them determined that they would make a change what what got you going?

Kristen Miller 3:14
Well, actually, it was the 2017 18 school year, I was an assistant principal at a middle school here in Sacramento and was formally trained in restorative practices, and saw the transformational nature of facilitating restorative conferences for some very high conflict situations. We talked a lot in education about reducing recidivism rates. So for if that bully or you know, get into fights, we want to reduce that as much as possible. But I hadn’t seen anything that had really curbed those destructive behaviors up until I was trained and facilitated several restorative conferences. And so it was a combination of that with really diving into some literature on school shooters, and that we have exactly that we really can be reinventing, reimagining and reinventing the way that we operate with our students to prevent a lot of these disruptive behaviors. And so I started my organizations with a combination of those things in mind. And so now I get to go around and train schools and districts in social emotional learning restorative practices, trauma informed practices and PBIS. And it’s wonderful.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 4:37
Wow, I love it. And I’d like just to have you unpack I know we’re super guilty of acronyms and key phrases. So those four pieces I would love to have you unpack that and let’s start with restorative justice since if you aren’t in a district or a school that uses that it may not even be something people are aware of.

Kristen Miller 5:00
Yes, my formal training comes from the International Institute of restorative practices. And there are a lot of different programs out there, both for restorative practices and trauma informed that do a great job of kind of touching the surface. But my training and IRP, International Institute of restorative practices really dives deep, and looks at this continuum of supports, beginning with effective statements, effective questions, small impromptu conversations all the way through conflict resolution, and formal restorative conferences, and really looks at proactive ways that we can mitigate some of the social issues that we see in schools communication, conflict resolution, and so on. Did that answer your question?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 5:49
I think so. And I think on a small like, on my micro school level, what that means for us, instead of perhaps a student breaking a rule or a norm in our community, instead of having a suspension a detention a consequence, for us, it might be, you know, how does this impact the community? And what do we need to do to make amends to step back into the community? So it’s a communal process versus a disciplinary measure? Does that align with our formal training?

Kristen Miller 6:15
Absolutely. And and but one of the things that I have seen unfortunately happen when schools and districts roll out a restorative practices or Restorative Justice Initiative, is they take the accountability piece away. So for example, as you’re saying, some of the things that are done instead of in lieu of suspension, or detention, or you know, whatever the typical punitive measures are, include making amends to whoever was harmed. But what happens is, you have to pair that with accountability, as well, it can’t just be, you’re going to make a poster and a presentation to say how what you did was wrong. It’s okay. What else are you going to do? And if you do continue this behavior, there will be some consequences. And that’s, unfortunately, there are a lot of districts that roll it out in a way that ends up being more harmful than helpful. But yes, I’m exactly the way that you described it. That’s an alignment with my formal training.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 7:15
Nice Q. How about PBIS.

Kristen Miller 7:21
So PBIS stands for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. And this is another one that there’s a tiered system, tier one, tier two, tier three, where Tier one is things that you’re doing for the entire school, a lot of PBIS programs include little slogans that students abide by, be safe, be responsible, be respectful, be kind, and they have the sort of rewards that go along with when students model those behaviors. And those rewards are in line with whatever the school has set up. And that’s another one where so this is interesting, because I look at social emotional learning as sort of the blanket, the umbrella for all of these smaller programs like restorative practices, trauma informed and PBIS. But really, I kind of look at PBIS is just good teaching good education, it’s are you recognizing the positive things that are being done in your classroom?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 8:22
Yeah, I agree, we have a Multi Tiered System of Supports and MTS s in our micro school. And tier one, our supports we want for all kids, we that they’re all going to need to work on their executive functioning and to interact with others. And our tier two supports are ones we do in small groups where they need a little more unpacking for, say, task initiation and executive functioning as a challenge and getting going as a challenge. And then tier three supports are oftentimes for us ones that are one on one where we’re helping a kid with emotional regulation and seeing some signs before you know if you go from one to five, what’s the three like? So for us? It is good teaching, and it’s intentional. It’s knowing which tools might help. Which groups does that kind of align again?

Kristen Miller 9:09
Yep, absolutely, perfectly said. Nice.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 9:13
Yay. So if social emotional learning is the umbrella, and you have restorative justice and PBIS, I would love to have you also unpack trauma informed I have a feeling some people are way on top of it, and others have no idea. I’d also like to have you talk about long term effect because I know high school attendance rates can be tracked back to things that happen to three and four year olds. And I think some people think, oh, that’s in their past. So talk to us about trauma informed.

Kristen Miller 9:43
Absolutely. This is one that I cannot stress enough, especially right now in the pandemic, the importance of being mindful of things that students are experiencing. First. COVID itself is really On giant trauma, we all have endured this now for a couple of years. And what happens when we experience trauma, there’s acute trauma, which is one singular event that drastically impacts people. So COVID would be an example of acute trauma. And then the other trauma is that’s consistent and pervasive. That’s complex trauma. And a lot of our students are unfortunately, living in a state of complex trauma, things like poverty, living in poverty, that itself counts as an adverse childhood experience. And then within poverty, there are a bunch of other different health implications and situations that students are impacted by that drastically affect their ability to just show up, be present and learn. So my formal training in trauma informed practices is from the neurosequential network by Dr. Bruce Perry. He released a book within the last year with Oprah Winfrey called What happened to you? And yes, yes. And so he and that’s my formalized training. So all of the things that you read in his book, I was trained very extensively in them. And his research is fascinating, and talks about how we learn how we process information. And ultimately, if any of us are not regulated, or feel relationally safe, we are not going to be able to absorb academic or a cognitive content. So regulation, just kind of make sure we’re all on the same page here. If you are regulated, that means your blood pressure is within a normal range, it means your heart rate is within a normal range, you have had adequate sleep, your body temperature, that kind of thing, your brainstem is responsible for regulating you as a human. And then the relationally safe piece that moves up into the portions of the brain, the die encephalon cerebellum and limbic system. And if we don’t feel relationally safe, so in the context of schools, if a student is sitting in a classroom with another student that has threatened to beat him or her up after school, they don’t feel relationally safe. So they cannot absorb whatever academic content the teacher is putting out there. And then finally, up at the top is the cortex, which is responsible for all of our academic subjects. So essentially, that’s the message that I really am trying to push out there to all educators, not just for students, but for themselves. We, I mean, COVID, causes dysregulation just by nature of what it is, I mean, our body temperature gets out of whack our blood pressure in some cases. And so we really need to be spending time right now. Focusing on our students and ourselves making sure that we are regulated and feeling relationally safe.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 12:58
That’s a lot Oh, no, I just want to go deeper in that, because basically, you’ve said that these adverse childhood experiences have huge impact, and they tie into different parts of our brain. And that actually, as a world right now, we are all going through trauma. So I just want to bring it down pre pandemic, yes, you did some research. I think once you’re teaching middle school math, and you did some research, I’d love to have you share how you saw some of this playing out. I just want people to understand this was here and a big, big lens to look through to see our learners pre pandemic. And now we all need to be looking through this lens. Can you maybe give us some examples of what you saw, even pre pandemic?

Kristen Miller 13:51
Oh, absolutely. And you’re right. I didn’t address that. I apologize. I don’t know that. Trauma is one of those things that it literally will get in and change your DNA. There have been a variety of studies that have been done, one of which looked at brain scans of young kids who had been exposed to trauma versus young kids who had not been exposed to trauma. And they found that the kids who had been exposed to trauma, their brains were physically smaller than those that had not been. Wow. Yeah. And so if these things don’t get addressed, that stays with them until they’re really addressed at the root of the issue. And so, my, my final year in the classroom was in 2018 19, I worked at a very high poverty middle school up here in Sacramento. I was a part time math teacher, part time intervention PBIS coach, and with the permission of my administration, I sort of re reinvented the way that I conducted my math class and ended up only spending 67 percent of my instructional minutes on common core math, and the other 33% on some of the strategies that I now teach educators within social emotional learning, trauma informed restorative and PBIS. And a big piece of that was honing in on the trauma regulation or relational safety stuff. So what ended up happening was, even though I taught less math, you know, in terms of the instructional minutes and academic instruction, my students grew mathematically more than I had seen ever before. So they grew academically 79% in one semester. And I think that’s a testament to the fact that we slowed down for a minute, we did activities, so breathing activities, regulatory relations, relevance reward, there’s a whole list of different types of activities to write help regulate students, we did activities to help students feel relationally safe in that 33% of the time. So that the 67% of the time that we were focusing on academics, it stuck, like really, because their brains were open their cortex was open for business, because their brainstem, limbic system, those were all regulated and working functioning properly. Does that make sense?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 16:23
It does, I just want to stop and have you really directly connect what you did the results, you got pre pandemic. So what do we as educators? What can we take away that we should absolutely be focusing on during this trauma during this pandemic?

Kristen Miller 16:45
Yes. Oh, my goodness. Okay. So if we start with you, I always encourage any teachers, educators, schools that I work with to, you know, we talk about best practices in terms of instructional design. And when you’re designing a lesson, the anticipatory set, though, what are your productivity? So very first thing my encourage teachers to do is have Yes, an academic warm up activity, but also a wellness warm up or activity? How are you doing today? And we I did it with a little emojis? I’d have them tell me what emoji represented how they were feeling, and then why they were feeling that way. And then they would all do that I’d give everybody a chance to share if they wanted to share what was on their mind. And then we would dive into whatever the academic content was. I had these students for 90 minutes at a time. And that is a long time from seventh grade. Yes. But another piece is weaving in brain breaks. So as a teacher, you should constantly be looking at your students body language, their facial expressions, their tone, and if something seems off, well, if it’s an individual student, ask them about it, check in with them. But if the whole class, if there’s a lull, I would office, I would stop instruction, I’d say, Okay, guys, Everybody get up, and we’re going to do some laps around the desks, or we’re going to go out and take a walk outside and then come back. Those are examples of regulatory activities. And then we also did community building circles, where that’s a restorative practice technique where we literally get the desks in a circle and get to know each other better. All of those things I, you know, I had students say to me, Miss Miller, your classroom is the only place that I feel safe on this campus. And it was not uncommon to have, you know, seven or eight fights in one school day at this campus that year. So yeah. Does that answer?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 18:46
Yeah. So if I’m paraphrasing, what you’re saying is, right now, we’re in the middle of all of us experiencing acute trauma, more than ever, we need to attend to our brains, we need to create both this, this safety, this community safety piece, and we also need to make sure that we’re helping people regulate. And that’s gonna take maybe even a third of the class and academics may not get to, we may not cover as much content. But because we’re engaging the brain, we’re actually going to get better results.

Kristen Miller 19:25
Absolutely. You hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly right. Yep.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 19:30
So I’m a teacher and we are still expected to have kids ready for state testing. And kids are super anxious, parents are anxious, I’m anxious. I have little kids at home. How would you be coaching teachers to deal with these conflicting expectations and demands?

Kristen Miller 19:50
Well, I think this goes more to a global issue, in my perspective, in my opinion, my professional opinion that we have folks make Decisions about requirements for how to hold teachers and students accountable. As we talked about the state test, making sure everybody’s proficient without really taking into account the reality of what’s going on in the classroom. And, and especially now, as you mentioned, in a pandemic, if you take a look at pre pandemic, when we still had usable test data, kids were not doing that, well, in English or math, we wouldn’t get past, I don’t have the data in front of me. But I can tell you for math, we were in the state of California hovering around, I think, 37% proficiency. And this is when we’re supposed to be quote, unquote, at our best. And then math or excuse me, English, I think was right around 50% 49, or 50%. And so we can look at it already and go, Well, when we were doing our best, quote unquote, doing our best and focusing all of our instructional minutes on academics, were we getting the results that we wanted, not really. So why why not try something a little bit different, and see what the outcome might be. There’s a lot of research coming out now that shows that’s in alignment with my own informal action research and some of the things we’ve been talking about. So I would encourage parents, teachers, administrators, district level administrators, to really take a moment and try and get comfortable with a little bit of a different approach. And it seems counterintuitive, but it really, really does make a difference and the research on how we learn how our brains function, how we take information in you know, sensory input from the outside world and process it, perhaps using that as our sort of guide post might get us some better outcomes. So

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 22:03
I love that. Absolutely. If what we have isn’t working, we need to pause and we need to regroup and look at it differently. And I feel the same way about student mental health statistics, I see it as a crisis, and we just keep carrying on because the system doesn’t allow teachers to stop and and address that or train them to address that. So I think it’s time for an educational evolution.

Kristen Miller 22:35
Exactly, yes.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 22:37
So Kristen, now that you’ve got this doctorate behind you what is next for you and your mission?

Kristen Miller 22:46
Well, my goal is to actually get into the policy side of things so that we can lay as I said, I There are folks that are very well intentioned, making up these policies and rules, but are very disconnected from schools and what’s happening in classrooms and the needs of everybody involved. So my hope is to get into the policy side of things. So I can help contribute to these decisions and hopefully make make education a little bit better for all those involved, because we’re, as we talked about, I think, before we started the interview, today, we’re losing teachers at an incredibly high rate. And if we can get our teachers regulated and feeling safe, and good and happy and taking care of themselves, that’s going to make a huge difference for everybody. So I have a lot of different ways that I want to go. But that’s a very big focus for me is policy and shifting the requirements that are placed on educators.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 23:47
I love that I’ve been exploring that more myself, because it really takes legislation. And I talking to legislators or like, well, the Business Roundtable when I talk to business people, they aren’t finding that the graduates that walk away with a diploma are necessarily college ready or work ready. So it’s not like the policy we have in place is so good. We can’t afford to revisit it. So nobody is content with the quality right now and the structure right now. And it’s such a perfect time to say wait a minute, and to say, hey, we haven’t really updated this in over 100 years. Time to take in new knowledge, like you said, the brain knowledge, the trauma knowledge that the strengths based learning knowledge, there’s so much

Kristen Miller 24:35
Exactly, exactly. I love that you’re getting into the policy side too.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 24:39
I am going to connect you with Emily and Gullickson of a for Arizona. I am just so impressed with people that are making things happen at a state level on a policy level. So yes, please because otherwise, I have a feeling we’re just kind of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic when exactly horses that be are still storming us, you know

Kristen Miller 25:00
Exactly exactly, and you put that wonderfully.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:03
So I would love to shift and just get to know you a bit better. So I have this part. That’s turbo time. And I don’t think we had it when I interviewed you over a year ago. And may I just fire some questions at you?

Kristen Miller 25:15
Yes. Awesome.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:17
Who are two inspirational folks you’d love to meet?

Kristen Miller 25:21
I would love to meet Brene Brown. She’s right in line with all of them. She’s wonderful. And the former President Obama or Michelle Obama, they’re amazing.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:34
Totally agree. How about your favorite place to travel?

Kristen Miller 25:38
Anywhere tropical with a warm beach and good waves?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:42
Yes. One TED Talk that inspires you.

Kristen Miller 25:47
Oh, man, there’s so many of them. But um, I’m gonna go with Brene. Brown, and the one. I can’t remember the exact title. But that’d be the power of vulnerability.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:57
Yep. I actually think you have a TED talk. And you and I just did a TEDx. I think you do with the three parts of the brain and education. So we’ll talk yeah. What is the biggest thing you wish folks knew about SEL and trauma informed care?

Kristen Miller 26:18
That our brains need us to focus on this and pause, just take the academics and put them aside for a little bit of time? Because otherwise, we’re just gonna keep doing the same thing. And it’s not working.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:35
Yes, more of the same as not the answer. And it makes me I know, this is supposed to be terrible. But I’m going to interject anyhow, it makes me think of being in foreign countries, I raised my girls overseas, and every now that I’d find that American usually that wouldn’t be able to communicate in the local language, and they would speak louder as if suddenly in Korea, yelling in English is going it’s like more of the same louder and harsher. Back on Track, what’s a pet peeve of yours?

Kristen Miller 27:09
Kind of what we’ve been talking about today, people well intentioned individuals making decisions without having all of the accurate information or research based information.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 27:20
Yes. What is a passion you bring to the with Heart Project?

Kristen Miller 27:29
Well, no, this, this one might be one you have to cut out is about just infusing just relationship building and really focusing on each other as people and even though we may not see eye to eye on things, we can still respectfully coexist in the same space. So trying to infuse that into educational systems.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 27:57
I love that. That makes me think of polarity thinking, where we can be totally in different camps. And I see that in schools, that we all have that same common goal. We want kids to thrive and to be life ready. So if we can get to that common goal, it’s okay that we have a different sense of hanging onto tradition, or paving a new route. Yeah, coexisting an honoring that we all want good things for kids and letting that fuel us instead of our differences.

Kristen Miller 28:27
Exactly. Absolutely. Yeah.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:30
And what is something about you that most people don’t know?

Kristen Miller 28:35
Oh, well, I was an engineer before I was a teacher, and whoa, a musician, a singer, songwriter, and an artist. So there’s a few things.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:45
You are just this renaissance human. Nice.

Kristen Miller 28:51
It’s been a long road, but it’s allowed me to fuse both both sides of my brain to create something that hopefully makes a huge impact for students and teachers everywhere. That’s my ultimate goal. So

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:03
yeah, and talk about engineering, being brain and artistic, you know, left and right and all that you really do bring and can be that bridge because you’ve lived it yourself. And that’s really cool. Well, thanks. Yeah. My final question you may remember from our first interview is the magic wand moment. So if you did have this magic wand and could impact learning in any way, what would you wish with your magic wand?

Kristen Miller 29:38
I wish that we would do routine a Stanford’s childhood experience routine, a screenings every year that every school just so we have information about which of our students are impacted by trauma so that we can get our teachers trained in how to manage and mitigate that as best we can To give them the best chance of being successful long term, I don’t think we haven’t we do have an achievement gap, we see that we see those numbers there. But the root issue, in my professional opinion is a regulation gap. So that would be an ace routine a screenings, as part of legislation and some passion.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:21
I love that we’re dealing with Hey, come on, let’s drill you on multiplication tables, we’re dealing, we’re dealing with a symptom, instead of dealing with the root cause and to make that regulatory, and to give tools to teachers so that they can address that once they understand it. To me, that is a game changer for all of our learners, is yes. And you are so needed. Thank you so much for all you’re doing for our learners.

Kristen Miller 30:50
Thank you. And thank you again so much for having me i Any chance I can get to help teachers help themselves and their students I definitely want to take so I appreciate all the work you’re doing as well, marine, you are amazing. Role model. So thanks.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:05
Oh, thank you. I am not a brain expert. I’ve studied it multiple times, and it still is not a clear picture. So simple images work for me, visualizing the stem of our brain, representing our basic need for safety works. And then the middle part of our brain needing to feel love and belonging and worthiness. And then the top front of our brains with the ability to evolve into the future being where learning happens. I can picture these three parts of the brain. And it makes perfect sense to me. We don’t build houses without laying solid foundations. And then we frame the houses. Finally, we get to decide structural details and creative interior designing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we set education up the same way, believing that it is mandatory to create a base, a foundation of love and safety and giving teachers time and resources to do this? And then creating real world and interactive situations where students can feel belonging while they learn? That’s the framework. Then the final step would be what learning do we want the safe and connected kids to experience? These one, two threes of how to build a house and how to build learning make perfect sense to me.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 32:50
As some of you know, senseless violence struck devastatingly close to my family during the Seattle protests. So Kristen’s mention of school shooter research is very poignant. We know when kids don’t feel safe, or like they belong, there can be dire consequences for all of us. I can’t quote TED Talk speaker Rita Pearson enough. Every child deserves a champion. And every one of you listeners can be that champion for a child, one child at a time, we can be making a difference. We can put down our screens and give them our undivided attention. Please think what youth in your life could you become a safety net for checking in and caring about how that student is doing? It’s an action step I encourage each listener to consider showing up for youth is a beautiful gift for you to give. When Kristen framed COVID as an acute trauma, that made really good sense. And this gives us an opportunity for self compassion and empathy for those around us. We can then extend this idea of trauma further. Thinking of the many who are more impacted by multiple and often complex, consistent trauma. We see how COVID is impacting our ability to function. This awareness can allow us much more empathy for those who are dealing with acute childhood experiences, and how it has a negative impact on their ability to function. Kristen takes all of this into account and turns learning as we know it on its head. She is one of those wonderful educational leaders who has both theory and practice in her toolkit. We all need the tools of restorative justice and tears of supports available to us with our learners.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:12
Kristen’s magic wand should be a global mandate. Annually testing kids to see where they are in math and reading is fine, but that is checking in at the top part of the brain. We need to get foundational level information every year, with routine a screenings at every school. Knowing a child’s history of acute childhood experiences could help us put in the needed foundational blocks upon which we can build true lasting learning. Wouldn’t it be great for every teacher to be trained to identify and mitigate these obstacles to learning, and these are obstacles to living fully?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:58
And wouldn’t it be powerful for everybody out there writing about the achievement gap? To talk about the life experiences that could be root causes for this gap. We can all understand more about trauma informed care and well being of our precious youth. Let’s study up and understand about acute childhood experiences, and trauma informed care. And reach out to Kristen at the With Heart Project to find resources to gain this valuable understanding. Let’s apply research to more than the latest electronic gizmo on the market. Let’s apply current research to how we serve our wonderful rainbow of learners. Thank you for being a part of the education evolution.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 36:59
If you are finding yourself thinking, I need to do this in my school. Let’s talk about it. I consult and also have a book TEDx talk an online course to support starting learner driven schools and programs. My goal is to help schools and individuals find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s create an action plan together. Visit education forward slash consult to book a call and let’s get started. Education evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you listeners signing off. This is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education

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