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The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction does not necessarily endorse any resource provided below, but encourages each educator, school leader, or trauma sensitive schools team to determine which tools best meet the needs of their school community.

Creating a Trauma Sensitive School Community

Systems Icon

A trauma-sensitive school is one that integrates the guiding principles of safety, trustworthiness, cultural responsiveness, empowerment, collaboration, and choice into every facet of its operation, from daily interactions to overarching policies and systems. Such schools strive to foster inclusive environments where students and staff from diverse backgrounds feel a genuine sense of connection and belonging. Furthermore, they conscientiously avoid actions that could perpetuate harm or re-traumatization, ensuring a safe and supportive atmosphere for all members of the school community.

System Frameworks and Resources

Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Oriented Schools Toolkit - National Center for School Safety

The Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Oriented Schools Toolkit outlines a framework for implementing trauma-informed, resilience-oriented approaches in any school or school district. The primary audience for this toolkit includes school leaders, student services staff, teachers, support staff, parents and families, and community partners.

Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training Package – National Center on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments

The Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training Package offers school and district administrators and staff a framework and roadmap for adopting a trauma-sensitive approach school- or district-wide. The Training Package includes a variety of resources for educating school staff about trauma and trauma-sensitive practices and for providing school leaders with a step-by-step process for implementing a universal, trauma-informed approach.

Creating, Supporting, and Sustaining Trauma-Informed Schools: A System Framework - The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

This framework helps schools and sites who partner with schools have a better sense of the areas to address when working towards a more trauma-informed school. The framework includes tiered supports in several core areas of a trauma-informed school.

Strategies and Resources by Topic Area to Create a Trauma Sensitive School - Compiled by DPI

This guide features strategies and resources for using a trauma sensitive lens to guide all aspects of the school including academics, behavioral supports, community partnerships, family engagement, social emotional learning, and more.

Principles of Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education - From Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education by Alex Shevrin Venet

Utilizing culturally responsive practices and centering equity is central to trauma sensitive schools work. This handout provides an overview of the key principles, understandings, and tasks of an equity-centered trauma-informed school.

A Checklist for a Welcoming and Inclusive School Environment - Welcoming Schools

Fostering inclusive, welcoming school environments in which students feel safe and accepted is a key part of building a trauma sensitive school. This checklist helps schools to consider aspects of creating a welcoming and inclusive school environment including language used, response to mean words and actions, diverse materials, and school and classroom climate.

School Leader Resources

Creating Trauma-Informed Policies: A Practice Guide for School & Mental Health Leadership - Pacific Northwest MHTTC

Creating compassionate policies is a cornerstone strategy of educational leadership. This guide provides a deep dive into developing, implementing, and evaluating trauma-informed and compassionate school policies.

School Building Leadership’s Role in Creating a Trauma-Sensitive School - Trauma Learning Policy Initiative

“Creating a trauma–sensitive school can be the vehicle to improvements in school culture. By holding the vision, making trauma-sensitivity one of the school’s priorities, and being a key member of the steering committee, a principal or headmaster plays an indispensable role in making sure that trauma-sensitivity is woven into the fabric of the school and aligns with other important initiatives on campus (e.g. bullying prevention, PBIS, Social Emotional Learning).”

Building Trust and Well-Being Through Trauma-Informed Communities: Leader Self-Assessment and Planning Tool - Center on Great Teachers and Leaders

This self-assessment for school leaders includes an array of trauma-informed strategies for fostering trust, wellbeing, and resilience for all in the learning environment.

Creating a Trauma Sensitive Classrooms and Interactions

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Trauma sensitive educators employ relationship-centered approaches alongside strategies that promote regulation and resilience. Educators are not expected to act as mental health professionals or trauma experts. However, each educator has the power to support student wellbeing and help increase protective factors in students’ lives through fostering connections and creating classroom and other school environments in which students feel a sense of safety, empowerment, and belonging.


Creating Trauma-Informed Learning Environments - WestEd

This handout features tips for educators striving to create trauma sensitive classroom environments in order to support the success and wellbeing of all students, especially those who have experienced trauma.

"Role-clarity and boundaries for trauma-informed teachers," 2019, Alex Venet, Educational Considerations, 44 (2)

Written by educator and author Alex Shevrin Venet, this article includes ideas such as, “We can hear from our students: ‘You’re my favorite teacher. You’re the only one I can talk to.’ Rather than taking these comments as compliments, they should serve as immediate red flags. If I hear this from a student, my first step is to look at who else this student regularly interacts with and question why they don’t feel safe connecting with those adults.”

Research Brief: How to Implement Trauma-informed Care to Build Resilience to Childhood Trauma, 2019, Jessica Dym Bartlett, Kate Steber, Child Trends

Trauma-informed care “requires comprehensive, multi-pronged support from adults in all aspects of children’s lives. It includes increasing adults’ knowledge of childhood trauma and helping them recognize the symptoms, as well as giving them the resources to support and refer children who have experienced trauma to appropriate services.”

Supporting Student Resilience and Well-Being with Trauma-Informed Care: Educator Self-Assessment & Planning Tool - Center on Great Teachers and Leaders

This educator self-assessment for supporting student well-being includes an array of trauma-informed strategies for fostering student well-being and resilience. The strategies outlined in this document are intended to be used to support all students.

Addressing Race and Trauma in the Classroom: A Resource for Educators – The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2017

This resource helps educators understand how they might address the interplay of race and trauma and its effects on students in the classroom. The guide outlines recommendations for educators and offers a list of supplemental resources. It should be implemented in accordance with individual school policies and procedures.

The Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS)

This program is a school-based, group and individual intervention. It is designed to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and behavioral problems, and to improve functioning, grades and attendance, peer and parent support, and coping skills. CBITS has been used with students from 5th grade through 12th grade who have witnessed or experienced traumatic life events such as community and school violence, accidents and injuries, physical abuse and domestic violence, and natural and man-made disasters. CBITS uses cognitive-behavioral techniques (e.g., psychoeducation, relaxation, social problem solving, cognitive restructuring, and exposure).

Healing Trauma from Disaster and Crisis

shared experiences

Schools can utilize trauma sensitive approaches to support students, families, and educators who have experienced crisis, disaster, loss, and other traumatic events. These approaches, from intensive interventions to universal supports, are essential for ensuring that those in the school community receive the necessary resources and assistance in their healing journey.


Safe Schools | Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Resources for Families: Processing Grief and Traumatic Events - Wisconsin DPI

This handout provides links to additional resources about talking to children about traumatic events, helping kids grieve, and the healing process.

School Safety and Crisis - National Association of School Psychologists

This NASP webpage includes resources on systems-level prevention, school violence, mental health, natural disasters, and other topics related to school safety and crisis.

National Center on School Crisis and Bereavement

The National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement is dedicated to helping schools support their students in times of crisis and loss.

For questions about this information, contact Elizabeth Strunz (608) 266-3361