Fostering Resilient Learners: Creating Trauma Sensitive School Communities, Spring 2019

Course Number: EDU 5515 C28 (Graduate)
Instructor: Joelle van Lent, Psy.D. & Gillian Boudreau

First four meeting dates: Trader Duke’s Hotel & Conference Center, S. Burlington, VT

Final meeting date (May 17): Faith Methodist Church, South Burlington, VT
Dates and Times: January 15 - May 17, 2019. In-person meetings on: Jan 15, Feb 15, March 14, April 9 & May 17. 8:30-3:30 each day (some days will require an additional .5 to 1 hour for course takers)
Tuition: $1,590

Note: Course payment of $1,590 is due and payable to VT-HEC.

Course Description

This training is designed from current research on the key components and protective factors that foster resilience in children who are contending with a wide variety of stressors including developmental trauma, mental health challenges, intellectual and learning variations, developmental disabilities, and chronic adversity within their environment. Dr. van Lent and Dr. Boudreau will identify key elements and approaches for creating environments in which children can thrive. The training will include an in-depth discussion of the impact of early neglect and trauma on a child’s development, specifically the child’s ability to form healthy relationships, respond to context, engage in learning, and develop a positive self-concept. Included in the training will be a comprehensive framework and set of skills in mindfulness techniques and their utility in increasing trauma sensitivity. The strategies and techniques presented in this course can be applied universally and as Tier I interventions to benefit all students in the school community.  This course will address challenges and helpful approaches for effective organizational change, including discussion related to identifying and addressing implicit bias in schools and compassion fatigue.

Audience: This course is suitable for anyone serving children and families in Vermont schools. All educators are welcome and no prior training is required.

Course Goals & Objectives

Course Goals:

Students and families are facing increasing stress related to environmental factors (i.e. poverty, substance addiction, homelessness, chronic health factors, unmediated technology, etc.). Public schools are facing the challenge of creating environments in which all students can engage and thrive despite such a wide variety of adversities.  Research indicates that intentional efforts to foster the resilience of all students, even those typically developing, dramatically increases their academic and developmental success, as well as reduces their risk for a wide variety of adulthood challenges. This course provides increased awareness and teaches specific approaches to foster the resilience of students through the protective factors and essential skills shown to make the most impact. Students taking this course will develop increased awareness, competency, and hope in their ability to impact their school system and students’ development in positive ways.  Students taking this course will also gain increased awareness and competency related to concepts of organizational change, identifying and addressing implicit bias, and compassion fatigue/vicarious trauma.

Course Objectives:

Day 1 & 2 (Joelle van Lent, Psy.D.)

  1. Participants will learn about the various forms of stress and current research relevant to fostering resilience in children. Participants will learn strategies and interventions that foster the development of essential skills that improve a child’s engagement and functioning. The training focuses on the realms of relational health, emotional regulation, social competence, and executive functioning. Specific examples and modeling of such skill development will be included.
  2. Participants will explore the impact of chronic exposure to adversity on child development, specifically focusing on attachment capacity, neurological functioning, affect regulation, and executive functioning.
  3. Participants will gain awareness and skill in improving a student’s relational health through the use of techniques that address emotional regulation, social competence, and school connectedness. The course instruction will address the elements that comprise a system of wise disciplinary practices that replace ineffective adaptations to trauma with more effective coping skills, while maintaining a sense of belonging to the community.
  4. 4. Participants will gain an understanding of the components that influence and promote executive functioning skill development, develop awareness of environmental influence and effective accommodations, and increase staff expertise and competence in offering intentional and proactive opportunities for students to develop executive functioning skills throughout the school day and within the school routine.

Day 3 & 4 (Gillian Boudreau, Ph.D.)

  1. 5. The participant will develop and understanding of the particular role of fear and anxiety in maintaining symptoms secondary to trauma, as well as the ways in which fear can move through school systems and teams in a way that interrupts effective programming and creates dynamics that can exacerbate symptoms of trauma.
  2. 6. The participant will develop and understanding of the concept of Mindfulness and its utility in reducing fear in individuals and systems. Participants will develop an understanding of the research on Mindfulness and strategies to use this tool to build resiliency factors including emotion regulation, empathy, and executive functioning. Specific examples and modeling of such skill development will be included.
  3. The participant will develop an understanding of the concept of implicit bias, and how it can impact effective and equitable programming for students. Participant will develop tools to identify and shift implicit bias individually and systemically.
  4. 8. The participant will develop an understanding of the concepts of Compassion Fatigue and Compassion Satisfaction, as well as increased awareness of the associated risk factors and environmental The participant will be actively engaged in developing ideas for self-care and effective professional collaboration.

Day 5 (Joelle van Lent, Psy.D., Gillian Boudreau, Ph.D.)

  1. 9. Over the course of the semester, the participant will use the tools presented in this class to identify areas where trauma-sensitivity could increase in their own school system. On the final class of the semester (5/17/19) participants will present the plans they have created to increase trauma sensitivity in their own workplaces, gain feedback from peers and instructors, and learn from other students’ plans. This final class will also include a panel presentation of Vermont educators and school administrators who are already putting some of these ideas into practice and can answer questions from the students.

Required Texts

Required text is not included in the course tuition.

Fostering Resilient Learners. Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom by Kristin Souers. Publisher: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (January 29, 2016) ISBN-10: 1416621075 

For additional course information

Joelle van Lent

(802) 233-6001

Gillian Boudreau

(802) 671-4037

For additional registration information

Julie Medose
(802) 498-3350

Register online now!