Videos – Trauma-Sensitive Schools

Welcome to our video page. We are currently developing a collection of videos that deal with all aspects of trauma and learning and creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools. Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel: Trauma Sensitive Schools to be kept up to date with our latest videos.

What Does a Trauma-Sensitive Middle/High School Look Like?
New Video

Over the past few years, TLPI has shared videos showing trauma-sensitive elementary schools, we have often been asked, “but what does it look like at the middle/high school level?” We are thrilled to share with you this short video highlighting one middle/high school’s journey to create a trauma-sensitive, safe and supportive school.

Highlighted in the video are the ways in which this school embraces parent engagement and student voice to help guide their efforts to create a vibrant learning community where all staff work together to create a school that embodies the values of safety, trusting relationships, connection, equity, belonging, and adaptability. Watch the video
Salem Academy Charter School engaged in the process-based approach for creating a trauma-sensitive school outlined in Helping Traumatized Children Learn, Vol. 2. This school is one of five demonstration schools that participated in research about creating sustainable trauma-sensitive school culture change. Please see these two research reports: a report by Atallah, Porche, et al., titled “An Evaluation of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative’s (TLPI) Inquiry-Based Process: Year Three,” which evaluated the efficacy and sustainability of the third year of data from the demonstration schools.

A School’s Journey Toward Trauma Sensitivity

There is a growing understanding of the need for trauma-sensitive schools among educators but we are often asked “how do you do it?” TLPI is pleased to share this new 10 minute video highlighting one elementary school’s journey to create a trauma-sensitive, safe and supportive school by using the process-based approach outlined in Helping Traumatized Children Learn, Vol. 2.

In the video, A School’s Journey Toward Trauma Sensitivity, we hear from the school’s leaders, teachers and other staff members who worked together to create significant changes in their school’s culture.   Watch the video

This school is one of five schools that participated in TLPI’s two-year Trauma-Sensitive Schools Descriptive Study conducted by the American Institutes for Research. Read the Research Snapshot here.

Why We Need Trauma-Sensitive Schools

Trauma-sensitive schools help ALL children to feel safe to learn.

There are a growing number of schools throughout Massachusetts and the United States engaged in the work of creating trauma-sensitive schools.

This video features one such school, the Baker School in Brockton, MA.  The Baker is one of several schools in Brockton that are becoming trauma-sensitive through a concerted, well supported district-wide effort.   This video highlights the importance of leadership—superintendents, assistant superintendents-principals, and educators—in creating the understanding and infrastructure that can support the team work among staff needed for all children to be successful.  As one school staff member explains “Every child belongs to everyone and when kids feel that, the kids and teachers are happy.”   Watch the video

Video Discussion Guide for Why We Need Trauma-Sensitive Schools

Video: The Impacts of Trauma on Learning, Part 1

Part 1: Academic Performance

Recent neurobiological, epigenetics, and psychological studies have shown that traumatic experiences in childhood can diminish concentration, memory, and the organizational and language abilities children need to succeed in school. For some children, this can lead to problems with academic performance, inappropriate behavior in the classroom, and difficulty forming relationships. Learning about the impacts of trauma can help keep educators from misunderstanding the reasons underlying some children’s difficulties with learning, behavior and relationships. Watch Impacts Part 1

Learn more about how traumatic experiences can impact learning, behavior and relationships at school here.

Video: The Impacts of Trauma on Learning, Part 2

Part 2: Classroom Behavior

For many children who have experienced traumatic events, the school setting can feel like a battleground in which their assumptions of the world as a dangerous place sabotage their ability to remain calm and regulate their behavior in the classroom. Unfortunately, many of these children develop behavioral coping mechanisms in an effort to feel safe and in control, yet these behaviors can frustrate educators and evoke exasperated reprisals, reactions that both strengthen the child’s expectations of confrontation and danger and reinforce a negative self-image. Watch Impacts Part 2

Video: The Impacts of Trauma on Learning, Part 3

Part 3: Relationships

Children’s struggles with traumatic stress and their insecure relationships with adults outside of school can adversely affect their relationships with school personnel and with peers. Preoccupied with their physical and psychological safety, children who have experienced traumatic events may be distrustful of adults and/or fellow students and unsure of the security of the school setting in general. Watch Impacts Part 3

Whole School: The Importance of Community

Children need to feel safe and connected to adults and peers everywhere in the school—in the classroom, the cafeteria, the hallway, the special activities, the bus—not just in one program or with one teacher. Moreover, addressing trauma’s impact at school requires that adults share responsibility for all children. No one teacher can do it alone, and services, while very important, are most effective when they are coordinated to help students feel safe and supported throughout the school day. This requires the teamwork of everyone in the school. It is important to remember that we will never know all the children who have been affected by traumatic events. The best approach is to create a school-wide environment where all children, including those who have been traumatized, can be successful. Watch the Whole School video

Learn more about the a whole school approach and the importance of community here

How Do We Get There: Becoming A Trauma Sensitive School

How we become a trauma sensitive school is not about a list of things we have to do. How we get there starts with what’s important to us. What is our urgency as a school and how do we address that? What actions do we take?

The key to creating a safe and supportive school community is identifying the urgencies that your school has and then taking small, but effective steps to address them, aligned with a set of norms and values that are articulated in we what we call the Attributes. Watch the video

Video: How Prevalent is Traumatic Experience?

In TLPI’s work with schools, we have seen that a turning point for many educators has been understanding just how common traumatic experiences are in the lives of children. Developing an understanding of the prevalence of trauma is one key step in developing a new lens- The Trauma Lens- through which students can be seen, heard and understood.

This seven minute video features TLPI’s training director, Joel M. Ristuccia, Ed.M. speaking about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study and the extraordinary numbers of adults who reported abuse and/or challenging family experiences during childhood. The video focuses on examining the statistics of exposure to ACES and explores the correlation of ACES to social, emotional and cognitive impairments. We share this video as a resource to help staff develop the understanding that trauma impacts large numbers of students and to dispel the impression that only a few are impacted. Watch the video

Learn more about the prevalence of trauma on our website here.

5 Core Ideas of Helping Traumatized Children Learn

In this video, Michael Gregory, a Senior Attorney on the staff of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative and Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, shares the five core ideas of Helping Traumatized Children Learn Volumes One and Two. Watch the video

Visit our Publications Page to purchase or download copies of Helping Traumatized Children Learn Volumes One and Two

Leadership’s Role in Supporting and Creating Trauma Sensitive Schools

Sal Terrasi, Ph.D., Executive Director for Pupil Personnel Services in the Brockton Public School System discusses how school and district administrators can work to create the infrastructure and culture to promote trauma-sensitive school environments.

Dr. Terrasi’s talk focuses on the four ways district leadership can support trauma-sensitive school environments:
1) Advocacy (00:50)
2) Communication (04:24)
3) Training and Professional Development (07:32)
4) Community Connections (10:44)

Watch the Leadership’s Role video

Leadership’s is one of the Six Elements of School Operations Involved in Creating aTrauma-Sensitive School and a part of the Flexible Framework

Learn more about the Flexible Framework on our website here.

About the Trauma-Sensitive Schools website: our project and goals

Susan Cole, Director of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative introduces the website, explains TLPI’s goals, and how we hope this website will support the growing trauma sensitive schools movement. Watch the video


Dr. Mary E. Curtis on
Creating Trauma Sensitive Schools


Dr. Mary E. Curtis, director of the Center for Special Education at Lesley University discusses “3 big ideas” in Volume 2 of Helping Traumatized Children Learn: Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive Schools that influenced Lesley University’s design of a series of trauma and learning graduate courses for educators.
Watch the Dr. Curtis Video

Ryan Powers: Focusing on the social and emotional well-being of students


Ryan Powers, Principal of the Mary Baker Elementary School, in Brockton, MA, discusses the importance of focusing on the social and emotional well-being of students. Principal Powers, discusses Helping Traumatize Children Learn, Volume 1 (The Purple Book), which identifies the issues of trauma as pertains to children learning at school. Volume 2: Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive Schools (The Teal Book) outlines the flexible framework, detailing the steps necessary for a school to become trauma sensitive and begin educating the whole child, which is important for academic achievements.
Read the full transcript of the video here.
Watch the Ryan Powers Video

Dr. Sal Terrasi: Trauma-Sensitive Schools Must Be Woven Into the Fabric of Education

Dr. Sal Terrasi’s Remarks at Brockton Launch of Helping Traumatized Children Learn Volume 2: Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive Schools.
Watch the Dr. Terrasi Video


Boston EdTalks features teacher, Colleen Labbe, sharing trauma sensitive social emotional learning classroom strategies.

Colleen Galvin Labbe is a Kindergarten Teacher at Lee Academy Pilot, Boston Public Schools. She talks about creating safe space for children in the classroom and how she her school used the “Purple Book” Helping Traumatized Children Learn as a Resource.

Watch the Dr. Colleen Labbe Video


An audio interview with Joel Ristuccia of TLPI on the Trauma Network

Attachment and Trauma Network Interview with TLPI’s Joe Ristuccia

Joe Ristuccia, Training Director for TLPI and Adjunct Professor at Lesley University was interviewed by the Attachment and Trauma Network about the impact of trauma on learning and the need for whole school trauma sensitive environments that are good for all students.

You can read a transcript of the interview here.

Use the audio player below to listen to the interview of Joel Ristuccia.