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2018 Archive


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trauma informed teaching

The Classroom Management Forum is a professional development service created to answer your questions about student behavior, how to become a trauma-informed school, classroom discipline, attendance, punctuality, student mental health and similar areas of concern. The forum is intended to be a dynamic and useful resource for teachers, educators, counselors, principals, teaching assistants, social workers, juvenile court staff, after-school workers and youth professionals. We regret that we can only accept questions from the disciplines listed above, and similar occupations. We are unable to assist parents as we are strictly a service for professionals and para-professionals.

You’ve reached the forum archive. This page has our 2018 answers archive. That means that this page has our past answers to your questions about trauma, violence, attendance, behavior and similar. You can post new questions by navigating to the current expert help forum page.

The Classroom Management Forum provides free, clear, expert advice and help with questions on children and teens who are struggling with emotional, social, mental health, crises, family issues or school-related problems.

Please understand that questions must relate to trauma, misconduct, mental health, juvenile corrections, behavior and classroom management, school violence, professional development workshops, student behavior management, or Youth Changes  posters, workshops, books and resources, or similar. We can’t assist in other areas.

We work really hard to bring you the best, most informative expert help with whatever you are seeing in your classroom, school, hallways and cafeteria– whether it’s horseplay or conflict, trauma or cliques, we can help.

Our goal is to help you feel like you’re not alone in your classroom anymore. We’re here to help. You can also email us if you prefer.






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Answers written by
Author, Keynote Speaker
and Trainer
Ruth Herman Wells, M.S.




trauma informed schoolsDate:   2018-01-03
Name:   Jordi Winthrop
Subject:   Trauma-Informed Schools
Job Title:  High School Teacher

Maybe I should know this already but please explain what it means to be a trauma-informed school or teacher.


Reply written by Ruth Herman Wells, M.S., Director, Youth Change at 2018-01-07

For what it’s worth, this is a relatively newer term. It means that your school is sensitive to students’ trauma, and keenly aware of students with social, emotional and family problems as well as similar challenges in the present or past. Additionally, the term means that your staff have received professional development training and are aware of how to best manage these types of issues. Since historically the area of trauma has typically not been covered much or at all in traditional teacher training, the term reflects a growing awareness of a problem that has always existed. To upgrade your skills or those of your entire faculty, you can take one of our online professional development workshops or attend an in-person general session workshop. You can also bring us to your school for an on-site training on the topic of student trauma. We’ve trained schools from the Florida Keys to the Arctic Circle, and from Newfoundland, Canada to Los Angeles. We’ve been teaching on the topic of trauma for decades. That’s long before it was receiving any (or much) attention in the K-12 education world. Because trauma is a very longtime focus, here at Youth Change, we know all about students facing this issue. We also know how to help you become highly capable at managing trauma– as best such as such a difficult and delicate area can be managed. We don’t have magic answers but we have some of the best answers. It’s important that whether the concept of trauma-informed schools becomes yet another K-12 education fad that comes and goes, that you continue your awareness of traumatized students, and maintain your skills to help them. Their lives may depend on that.



Pro Football High School Athlete Motivational PosterDate:   2018-03-31
Name:   Wendy Wagner-Heights
Subject:   Posters
Job Title:   High School Counselor

Soooo very tired of boring, dull, repetitive student posters. Do you have any motivational posters that would be different?


Reply written by Ruth Herman Wells, M.S., Director, Youth Change at 2018-04-01

We think we have the most inventive, exciting and persuasive posters on the planet. So, yes! We get this question so often that we have grouped our most popular posters onto one page. We also have grouped our posters by category so you can see hundreds of magnificent motivational posters very easily. One example of our powerhouse motivating posters is shown at right. It’s part of a series of career ed motivational posters. It’s Poster #715 and it convinces young male students that they can’t quit or sleep through school and still become a successful pro football star without more education. Click on the image to enlarge and read the surprising and complelling text.



help traumatized studentDate:   2018-04-21
Name:   Dorothy Rameriz
Subject:  How to assist emotionally troubled students
Job Title:  Elementary School Principal

We have a female student who has been through a boatload of trauma. They have been through a divorce, a death, a move, health issues, school issues. She’s hardly ever even at school, but if we do get her back, where do I start?


Reply written by Ruth Herman Wells, M.S., Director, Youth Change at 2018-04-24

Ideally, we’d love to get you to a live workshop, on-site course or online training seminar. In the meantime, let me point you to our free Expert Help Articles Library. The Library will give you more extensive information than I can provide in this forum that only allows for brief replies. The quick, free articles are written by experts and geared to be fast-to-use and easy to understand. They will go into more detail than can be accomplished here. The articles are sorted by category so you can quickly read about trauma and the related issues this young girl is facing. Our help articles are always jargon-free and easy to absorb. The information is extensive, practical and ready to use.

Besides reading our expert articles on trauma, I suggest the first area of focus when the girl returns, is to get a bit of clarification about what’s happening in her life at the moment. You want to try to gently scope out current– and perhaps recently past– concerns. Whether she is safe should be clarified and addressed as best you can. Second, I would focus on her attendance and be ready to assist her to get to school. (You will find step-by-step for that in our Expert Help Articles Library too.) When she’s not at school, she is more at risk of all manner of problems. That’s why attendance should be the second area to address. You can only readily help students who come to school.  I would maximize any outreach efforts to ramp up her attendance. Third, and this may be the most important: Try to strike the balance between her trauma and your mission to educate. You don’t want to add to her problems by force-feeding her education. On the other hand, regardless of the trauma issues, she’ll need the academic education you want to give her. Try to balance those two factors and you’re on the right path.

This was an important question. Write back if you need more help. We’re here for you– and for her too.



trauma sensitive schoolDate:   2018-08-25
Name:   Bobbi J.
Subject:   Question about moving towards becoming trauma-informed school and teachers
Job Title:   Special Education Teaching Assistant

Why does there seem to be more of a focus on student trauma lately? Is this just another education trend or is there more trauma occurring in children and adolescents. I’ve been working a long time in K-12 education and this is the first I have heard on the topic even though I obviously have been aware that some students struggle.


Reply written by Ruth Herman Wells, M.S., Director, Youth Change at 2017-08-25 

What a good question. You may have scoped out the answer. Yes, the current heavy focus on trauma-informed schools and teaching could end up being another one those K-12 education fads that come and go. No one knows for sure if more children and teens are facing trauma than ever before, but all indications are that perhaps that is possible. Having said that, regardless of whether trauma is on the rise for children and teens, there has always been a considerable amount. We get this question sometimes in our live workshops and generally, our response has been that it might be better to focus on helping affected students versus trying to discern whether the problem is on the rise or not. Whether or not this focus on helping traumatized students lasts or fades, these students will always exist and will always need to be noticed and helped in a competent manner. We try to stay focused on assisting educators and mental health professionals to provide that competent help.



Date:   2018-11-21
Name:   Mrs. Marty  J. Sliprad
Subject:  Elementary Age Students with Mental Health Problems
Job Title:  Elementary School. Teacher

I work with elementary students, really young ones. I was wondering when the “bad things” can start happening to this age group. I have a hard time understanding how someone could abuse a 5 year old. I guess I am asking when does abuse typically start?


Reply written by Ruth Herman Wells, M.S., Director, Youth Change at 2018-11-24

This is another question that has no exact answer. However, in our live professional development workshops that focus on mental health, trauma and abuse, we often read a letter from an abused student. The letter was written to her teacher who had never noticed the student’s substantial distress. In the letter the student writes “I have been a lady since diapers.” Sadly, I think that clearly answers your question. Abuse can begin at any age and there are indications that very young children can often be victimized even though many of us assume that teens and pre-teens face the most risk of serious abuse and consequent trauma. That’s why it’s so important to learn everything you can to recognize these situations and to be skilled and ready to help appropriately.




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