Creating and Supporting a Trauma Informed School

This six-session series will cover the basics of what trauma is, how it occurs, how it shapes a brain, and what it's likely to look like in students. It will also touch on how to create a trauma-sensitive/responsive learning environment and how to address trauma-based behaviors in the classroom. Participants will walk away with knowledge, tips, and tools to use immediately in their own settings.

Audience, Session Schedule and Registration

This series is best for K-12 school administers, teachers and school support staff. The series consists of six sessions total. Educators who register for the series are expected to join every session, as content will expand on that presented in previous sessions. The schedule and registration button for the series is below.

Session 1

Trauma Overview and Introduction to Classroom Strategies

  • Participants will define what trauma is and how it occurs
  • Participants will be able to explain how a trauma informed school is different
  • Participants will list characteristics of a student with a trauma history
  • Participants will develop an understanding of the stress response system and how trauma and stress shape the brain
  • Participants will explore new ways of addressing behavior problems in the classroom
  • Participants will be able to list the primary components of a trauma informed learning environment

Date and Time Thursday, March 18, from 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.


Session 2

Structuring the Physical Environment

  • Participants will describe how the physical environment impacts a student’s ability to stay regulated 
  • Participants will explain and demonstrate how to create and use a “calm corner” or designated “reset” space in their own setting
  • Participants will list 2 practical ways to incorporate visual supports into their current physical environment

Date and Time: Wednesday, March 24, from 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Session 3

Establishing Safety and Consistency

  • Participants will consider the difference between physical safety and felt safety and will develop tangible next steps to support a greater sense of safety in the school environment
  • Participants will consider their school’s progress toward common expectations in all settings across the building
  • Participants will be able to identify and explain the 5 States of Arousal and how an understanding of them is critical in the classroom setting
  • Participants will be able to explain how, why, and when a classroom safety plan is practiced and used

Date and Time: Tuesday, March 30 from 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.


Session 4

Prioritizing Relationships

  • Participants will define “family culture” and will list ways to establish that in the context of the school setting
  • Participants will demonstrate an understanding of why establishing hierarchy is important, and often difficult, in the classroom setting
  • Participants will reflect on and describe the ways that they build teacher-student, student-student, and teacher-parent relationships

Date and Time: Wednesday, April 14, from 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.


Session 5

Minimizing Shame in the School Setting

  • Participants will list 3 common practices that are likely to cause students to feel shame at school
  • Participants will recognize 4 of the most common responses to shame
  • Participants will describe the difference between natural, logical, and punitive consequences
  • Participants will define and describe Restorative Practices and how they might be used to promote belonging and minimize shame

Date and Time: Thursday, April 22, from 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Session 6

Supporting Social Emotional Growth and  Regulation

  • Participants will define and identify examples of both regulation and dysregulation
  • Participants will understand and be able to demonstrate how to co-regulate with a student
  • Participants will list 2 examples of regulation activities that can be practiced in the classroom setting
  • Participants will describe why the development of self-regulation skills is critical for students today

Date and Time: Thursday, April 29, from 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.


Facilitator Details

Headshot of Allison Nelson

Allison Nelson

Introducing Allison Nelson

Allison Nelson has been in the field of education for over a decade and has worked with students from preschool to high school, and in settings ranging from daycare centers to residential treatment facilities. She has spent the majority of her time teaching in the public school system. She has a Master's degree in Public Administration/Educational Administration and is a Certified Trauma Practitioner in Education. She currently splits her time between classroom teaching and working as the Educational Advisor for Trauma Informed Communities with Developmental Enhancement Behavioral Health. Her greatest passion is to come alongside schools and community organizations to help them take their next steps toward becoming more trauma-informed. She has worked with hundreds of schools in Michigan and beyond. Allison is a foster, adoptive, and biological parent; a competitive runner; a voracious reader; and a coffee enthusiast. She is an introvert; married to an extrovert; and mom to three of the loudest, most energetic children on the face of the planet.


Educational Advisor for Trauma Informed Communities, with Developmental Enhancement Behavioral Health

Licenses and certifications:

  • Michigan Professional Teaching Certificate
  • Michigan School Administrator Certificate
  • Certified Trauma Practitioner in Education
  • Community Champion with the Michigan ACE Initiative
  • Trained in Nonviolent Crisis Intervention (Crisis Prevention Institute)
  • Trained in Restorative Practices

Schools attended, degrees, and years of attendance:

  • Hope College, BA, Religion/Psychology/English, 2003-2006
  • Colorado Christian University, Elementary Education Licensure, 2008-2009
  • University of Michigan, MPA, Educational Administration, 2013-2015

Favorite quote:

 “The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him." – Pablo Casals

SCECH Availability

Up to 9 SCECHs can be earned during the series, 1.5 for every session you attend. Details about earning SCECHs will be available in the registration confirmation and reminder emails.


Please contact Jayme Lesperance ( if you have any questions about this series.