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A Trauma Informed Approach to Behaviors in the Classroom- free download!

April 13, 2015

Free Article Download- A Trauma Informed Approach to Behaviors in the Classroom is a letter to teachers – short, simple, and steeped in science- on why behavior management systems don’t usually work for children with a history of trauma, and WHAT THE TEACHER CAN DO INSTEAD!!!!

***August 2017 Update…In the past two years, my “letter-to-the-teacher” has been downloaded over 5000 times and I imagine shared even more.  I continue to receive emails about how helpful the letter has been, from professionals, educators, and parents.  I updated the letter in August 2017 so you can be sure it contains the most up-to-date science and recommendations.  I also ran a webinar in August 2017 based on the letter-to-the-teacher.  If you missed it, you can still purchase it on my website (CLICK HERE) for lifetime and unlimited access, as well as full permission to share the webinar with your child’s teacher and education team from now until forever.  There are NO limits on sharing the webinar or the free letter-to-the-teacher.  I’m honored to be making a positive impact on your child’s experience at school!***

trauma informed

About six weeks ago, I finally started putting pen to paper on a project that’s been whirling in my brain for months.  I am regularly asked for an article or some scholarly referenced material that parents can give to teachers that describes why a traditional behavioral management system (levels, colors, stop-light, clip charts, etc.) don’t work for  kids who have experienced early trauma- in fact they often make behaviors worse.  An abstract idea I’ve been formulating finally took enough shape that I could get some of those ideas onto paper.

This is the time of year when behaviors tend to escalate at school.  Parents are met with teachers who want to do a ‘behavior contract’ or redefine the current behavior management system in place.  I haven’t run across a succinct, easy-to-read, yet steeped in science article about WHY traditional behavior management systems don’t work for our kids.  If there’s one out there, please point me to it!!

So, I wrote one myself.  I aimed for succinct (it’s 10 pages- long enough to explain some science, short enough for a busy teacher to read), easy-to-read (I include lots of information about the brain but in a way that make’s SENSE!!!), and steeped in science.  I can’t find a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal article on this subject so I made sure I cited the work of leaders in our field- Dan Siegel, Pat Ogden, Stephen Porges, Allan Schore, Deborah Gray.  AND the article doesn’t just explain why behavior systems may actually make behaviors work- I give teachers an alternative!!!

You can access, download, save, print, DO WHATEVER YOU WANT with my article for teachers by CLICKING HERE.  I’ve called it “A Trauma Informed Approach to Behaviors in the Classroom” but wrote it in a casual manner as a letter to the teacher.

Check back here with your thoughts!!!  If you give the letter to you child’s teacher and find it helpful, please let me know!!!


Like what you read here?  To get more trauma momma support, click here to sign up for my monthly newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. CATHRINE permalink
    April 13, 2015 6:55 am

    Thank you – with your permission I would like to share this w/ people who may be working with my children. So very difficult to find people that truly understand.  Thank you.

    • April 13, 2015 6:58 am

      Hi Cathrine~ Please share the article with anyone and everyone! No permission needed. I hope it helps!!

  2. Karen Chilstrom permalink
    April 13, 2015 7:33 am

    Dear Robyn,

    You’re so awesome! Thanks for writing this and sharing it. I have passed it along to my son’s teachers.

    Best, Karen

    > >

  3. April 13, 2015 8:42 am

    Oh my goodness! Excellent, excellent, Excellent! Thank you for putting so much current trauma-informed info in one spot. I often work with clients who deal with complex childhood trauma. This handout will be perfect for caregivers and teachers.

  4. Donna Po permalink
    April 13, 2015 9:22 am

    Thank you very much for writing this. Although my child who needs this the most is going into high school and beyond behavior charts, I will still give his school this letter because I have been struggling to find the right words to describe what happens to him when he gets a disapproving look from a teacher or a poor grade. I will also share it with my adoption groups. You are the best! Thank you, Donna

    • April 14, 2015 5:44 am

      Donna, it’s a great idea to give this to high school teachers too! I considered this when I was writing it (about older kids) but decided to leave the focus on this on behavior charts. Perhaps I’ll work on something geared more toward older kids!

      • Donna Po permalink
        April 23, 2015 2:40 pm

        Oh that would be great!

  5. Michael Curtis permalink
    April 14, 2015 3:57 am

    Hi Robyn,

    I am an Educational Psychologist and Solution Focused Personal Development Coach in UK and follow your blog with interest. I think this is one of the best pieces of writing on the subject I have seen in a while !!! You communicate the main issues very well with clarity and obvious enthusiasm. I know I am going to be promoting your ideas to colleagues in schools and with parents with whom I am working, so thanks for your generosity in sharing your writing

    • April 14, 2015 5:45 am

      Hi Michael! Thanks for your very kind words!! Yes, it was written with lots of passion and enthusiasm! I hope it is helpful for your colleagues!

  6. April 14, 2015 5:38 am

    Thank you for this! I am leading a training for foster parents and anything that they can pass on to help the teachers understand their kids is MOST helpful! Many thanks. Lori

  7. April 14, 2015 10:35 pm

    Robyn, this article is fantastic! I recently learned of a psychiatric hospital that uses behavior charts and a reward system for earning seconds or extra food portions at meal time and desert. Talk about throwing the brain into survival mode FREAK OUT. It is absolutely wonderful that we are beginning to learn more about how the brain works and there are so many areas of society that can use this valuable information. Great work and I will be sharing this with many! -Whitney Whelan LPC-Intern in Dallas

  8. April 20, 2015 11:21 pm

    HI Robyn! Great article. I’m speaking to several Schools this summer…chatting with Educators about Trauma-Informed classroom strategies. I would love to share your article with them. Thanks for writing a great resource full of facts for teachers. Hope you are well, Stacy York

  9. Locke Curfman permalink
    July 31, 2015 12:06 am

    Robyn, I am a trauma counselor in the East Texas area. Your letter is a wonderful tool to share with fellow counselors, my parents who have traumatized children, and frankly, my parents who were traumatized themselves. The “two brain” idea is fantastic! Thank you for the time and effort that went into this article 🙂

  10. Allison Eckelkamp permalink
    August 2, 2015 9:52 pm

    Robyn this is brilliant! I was working on something of my own and remembered that you had sent us something last spring. I just pulled it up and realized you did your usual amazing Robyn job with it and I couldn’t have said it better! I will share, giving you complete credit. Thank you for your heart and your brain, you have my utmost respect.

  11. August 27, 2015 6:04 am

    Thank you for the resource Robyn. I actually first received this from a parent when I was in Texas as she made it available to Administrators. I will be adding it to the resources I give teachers.

  12. February 2, 2019 1:05 am

    Thank you for the great resource Robyn!

  13. Abi permalink
    June 14, 2019 1:04 pm

    THANK YOU! My adopted children are transitioning to a new school and this will help pave the way before the year even begins. I appreciate this so very much.

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