Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and adult survivors of ACEs

The term Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) was coined by Drs. Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda in the publication of  their groundbreaking research in 1998. The doctors interviewed 17,000 mostly White professionals belonging to Kaiser-Permanente. The physicians wanted to find out why their patients were having difficulty maintaining wellness goals. They learned that many of their patients were still dealing with the lingering affects of trauma that happened to them before they turned eighteen.

The implications of Felitti’s and Anda’s work for educators are twofold:

  • There are students in our classrooms with ACEs.
  • There are adult survivors of ACEs working in our school systems.

The 8 most prevalent ACEs impacting students are:

  • Poverty
  • Divorce
  • Death of a parent or loved one
  • Having a parent or caregiver who is incarcerated
  • Living with someone who is mentally ill, suicidal, or depressed
  • Living with someone who abuses alcohol or drugs
  • Exposure to domestic violence
  • Exposure to community violence

We recognize that many forms of trauma and adversity impact our students, staff, and families.  How is the need for trauma-informed practices showing up in your school and community?

…Trauma-related experiences occur across all racial, economic, and cultural groups, yet the way these experiences show up in school and the way educators respond…often vary greatly based on demographic differences.” Gary R. Howard 

Building Resistance in Students Impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences: A Whole Staff Approach (BRISIBACEs) addresses the impact of trauma on teaching and learning. It is a working book that provides educators with the tools to transform their pedagogy and their schools.

Building Resilience in Students Impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences: A Whole-Staff Approach builds…

Resilient Educators

Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask Before Helping Others. In Chapters 2 & 3, educators cultivate self-awareness, growth mindset, SEL competencies, and self-care to support their resilience, well-being, and effectiveness.

Building Your Practice. Every chapter includes activities, reflections, and online resources so that educators can read, reflect, and respond while developing their practice.

Relationship-Based Teaching & Learning: Chapters 4, deepens educators’ understanding of the impact of ACEs and trauma on brain development, cognition, and behavior. With this understanding, educators are able to build relationships that foster learning and resilience.

Resilient Schools

Trauma-Informed Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). Building Resilience equips schools and districts with multi-tiered trauma-informed supports and interventions that foster achievement, positive behavior, and social-emotional well-being.

Equity & Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). Building Resilience grows educators’ capacity to achieve equitable outcomes through culturally responsive teaching and leading, rooted in relationships that address needs for safety, belonging, and feeling valued.

Schoolwide Mental Health & Resilience. Building Resilience supports schools and districts in developing systems and practices that foster both educator and student mental health and resilience.

Resilient Students

Positive Behavior & Academic Achievement. In Chapter 5, educators are equipped with a Talk, Trust, Feel, Repair Toolkit comprised of strategies that foster learning, emotional regulation, positive behavior and address conflict through restorative practices.

Student Mental Health. Building Resilience highlights the importance of integrated mental health supports and offers guidance on the important contribution that school counselors, psychologists, behavior specialists, special education staff, and social workers make to student well-being and success.

Personal Testimonies & Case Studies. Throughout the book, educators are presented with real life examples to apply key concepts and skills. Chapter 9 features testimonies from survivors of ACEs and trauma, including bestselling author and filmmaker Antwone Fisher, that bring the content to life and inspire hope.

The New Normal

In 2019, teacher strikes rolled across our country. Teachers staged walkouts in West Virginia, Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and Colorado to name a few states. Educators working for the Los Angeles Unified Schools, the second largest district in the country, shut down that system. Although salary and class size are always at the forefront of educator demands; this time, educators were pleading for more resources to support their students. They are asking for more school nurses, counselors and greater access to mental health services.

Educator unrest is a symptom of what we refer to as the new normal. In many respects, educators have become first responders who navigate crisis, conflict, and trauma daily. Anxiety, depression, suicidality, self-harm, bullying, school shootings, an opioid epidemic, and growing rates of poverty are impacting rural, suburban, and urban communities across the country. As educators encountering these challenges within an already demanding field, they are calling out for more resources for their students and themselves.

The teacher strikes teach us that we must attend to the social-emotional needs of our students, families, and our educators.

Our Why

Research has shown that ACEs and trauma affect a child’s brain development, cognition, behavior, and social-emotional development. By  developing our knowledge of the impact of ACEs, we strengthen our “why,” or the reason that we engage in this work, while gaining insights that make us more effective school professionals.

However, our work as educators can be complicated by the fact that work-related stress, exposure to secondary trauma, bias, and our own personal histories of ACEs can contribute to compassion fatigue and burnout. Educators need strategies for cultivating self-awareness, growth mindset, resiliency, and self-care for themselves as well as students.

The good news is that whether we are a superintendent, principal, classroom teacher, school counselor, custodian, or bus driver, we each have a sphere of influence in which we can make a difference for our students. Schoolwide systems that engage the entire staff create a universal culture of compassion and achievement that provides students with consistent support, structure, and nurturance. We work with educators to develop a clear plan to implement and sustain trauma-informed practices within their school, classroom, and community.

 

Resilient Educators

Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask Before Helping Others. In Chapters 2 & 3, educators cultivate self-awareness, growth mindset, SEL competencies, and self-care to support their resilience, well-being, and effectiveness.

Building Your Practice. Every chapter includes activities, reflections, and online resources so that educators can read, reflect, and respond while developing their practice.

Relationship-Based Teaching & Learning: Chapters 4, deepens educators’ understanding of the impact of ACEs and trauma on brain development, cognition, and behavior. With this understanding, educators are able to build relationships that foster learning and resilience.

Resilient Schools

Trauma-Informed Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). Building Resilience equips schools and districts with multi-tiered trauma-informed supports and interventions that foster achievement, positive behavior, and social-emotional well-being.

Equity & Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). Building Resilience grows educators’ capacity to achieve equitable outcomes through culturally responsive teaching and leading, rooted in relationships that address needs for safety, belonging, and feeling valued.

Schoolwide Mental Health & Resilience. Building Resilience supports schools and districts in developing systems and practices that foster both educator and student mental health and resilience.

Resilient Students

Positive Behavior & Academic Achievement. In Chapter 5, educators are equipped with a Talk, Trust, Feel, Repair Toolkit comprised of strategies that foster learning, emotional regulation, positive behavior and address conflict through restorative practices.

Student Mental Health. Building Resilience highlights the importance of integrated mental health supports and offers guidance on the important contribution that school counselors, psychologists, behavior specialists, special education staff, and social workers make to student well-being and success.

Personal Testimonies & Case Studies. Throughout the book, educators are presented with real life examples to apply key concepts and skills. Chapter 9 features testimonies from survivors of ACEs and trauma, including bestselling author and filmmaker Antwone Fisher, that bring the content to life and inspire hope.

The New Normal

In 2019, teacher strikes rolled across our country. Teachers staged walkouts in West Virginia, Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and Colorado to name a few states. Educators working for the Los Angeles Unified Schools, the second largest district in the country, shut down that system. Although salary and class size are always at the forefront of educator demands; this time, educators were pleading for more resources to support their students. They are asking for more school nurses, counselors and greater access to mental health services.

Educator unrest is a symptom of what we refer to as the new normal. In many respects, educators have become first responders who navigate crisis, conflict, and trauma daily. Anxiety, depression, suicidality, self-harm, bullying, school shootings, an opioid epidemic, and growing rates of poverty are impacting rural, suburban, and urban communities across the country. As educators encountering these challenges within an already demanding field, they are calling out for more resources for their students and themselves.

The teacher strikes teach us that we must attend to the social-emotional needs of our students, families, and our educators.

Our Why

Research has shown that ACEs and trauma effect a child’s brain development, cognition, behavior, and social-emotional development. By  deepening our knowledge of the impact of ACEs, we strengthen our “why,” or the reason we engage in this work, while gaining insights that make us more effective school professionals.

However, our work as educators can be complicated by the fact that work-related stress, exposure to secondary trauma, bias, and our own personal histories of ACEs can contribute to compassion fatigue and burnout. Educators need strategies for cultivating self-awareness, growth mindset, resiliency, and self-care for themselves as well as for their students. 

The good news is that whether we are a superintendent, principal, classroom teacher, school counselor, custodian, or bus driver, we each have a sphere of influence in which we can make a difference for our students. Schoolwide systems that engage the entire staff create a universal culture of compassion and achievement that provides students with consistent support, structure, and nurturance. We work with educators to develop a clear plan to implement and sustain trauma-informed practices within their school, classroom, and community.