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Trauma-Sensitive Leadership

Creating a Safe and Predictable School Environment

By: John F. Eller, Tom Hierck

Lead a foundational shift in the way your school approaches student behavior. Using straightforward language, the authors offer research-based, practical strategies for understanding and supporting trauma-impacted students and providing a safe environment for them to learn.

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Trauma-Sensitive Leadership

Lead a foundational shift in the way your school approaches student behavior. Trauma-Sensitive Leadership offers research-based, practical strategies for understanding and supporting trauma-impacted students rather than “fixing” them. Using straightforward language, the authors illustrate how to integrate new mindsets into daily practice to get to the core of critical issues like social-emotional safety and wellness for students and adults alike.

  • Understand childhood trauma and the impact traumatic experiences have on both students and educators.
  • Develop a trauma-sensitive attitude and mindset to help lead teachers in supporting students experiencing trauma.
  • Examine school structures and environments that support trauma-sensitive practices while recognizing those that may contribute to trauma.
  • Learn how to develop trusting and positive relationships with trauma-impacted students and their families.
  • Plan and maintain a trauma-informed school beyond the initial years of implementation.

Related Topics

Classroom Management & BehaviorLeadershipSocial-Emotional LearningViolence & Crisis Prevention


Additional Information

Product Code: BKF911

ISBN: 9781949539974

Published By: Solution Tree

“In Trauma-Sensitive Leadership, John Eller and Tom Hierck offer a resource that all school leaders desperately need. They are supremely qualified to guide schools and school leaders in this important topic. Schools and their leaders must be proactively prepared to serve the needs of students, families, and staff who have experienced, or are experiencing, trauma. We can and must meet these needs to help support healing and ensure student learning. This book provides background information on trauma and practical tools and resources that empower school leaders and other staff to positively and empathetically respond to the realities and challenges that trauma brings.”

Chris Weber, curriculum director, Irvine Unified School District, California

“Trauma-sensitive schools require both community commitment and courageous leadership. In Trauma-Sensitive Leadership, Eller and Hierck move from classroom-based ideas to trauma-sensitive strategies for leading whole-school change. They share personal insights and research that promote understanding the impact of trauma on students and teachers, as well as an abundance of helpful resources, strategies, and practices to guide school leaders in transforming their learning communities into caring, supportive cultures.”

Patricia Crain de Galarce, center director, Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity

“In this timely, thought-provoking book, authors Eller and Hierck challenge us to reflect on the trauma we face in our lives and use these experiences to lead with humility and understanding. In Trauma-Sensitive Leadership, school leaders will be empowered as they can draw on unique practices and strategies and put them into an actionable plan to create trauma-sensitive schools and districts.”

Howard Carlson, educational advisor, 2019 Arizona Superintendent of the Year

Trauma-Sensitive Leadership is the book every school leader needs. In their follow-up to Trauma-Sensitive Instruction, Eller and Hierck offer the critical knowledge necessary to develop a trauma-sensitive school culture where all students can flourish. Too often, professional books focus solely on the why behind the practice and don’t provide the how. This book will empower leaders with background information on trauma but also practical, research-based strategies that cultivate and sustain school- and districtwide systems that support all stakeholders. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a vital spotlight on the social-emotional well-being of our students. This book is how we make sure that spotlight never dims.”

Daniel Wolf, literacy coordinator, Woodridge School District 68, Illinois

“In Trauma-Sensitive Leadership, authors Eller and Hierck provide a clear understanding of what leads to and comprises a trauma-sensitive school. School leaders must support teachers at every level, but most important, at the classroom level. This is not another initiative that simply can be mandated. In order for schools to shift the focus toward ensuring and sustaining a safe and nurturing culture, leaders must take a much more active role than they have with other initiatives. This resource provides the strategies and tools leaders need to create this kind of culture for students; their psychological well-being depends on it!”

Derrick Cameron, educator and author

“In Trauma-Sensitive Leadership, John Eller and Tom Hierk provide a much-needed tool to support leaders in building trauma-sensitive schools that meet the evolving needs of students. Through exploring the impact of trauma on both educators and students, creating stable school environments, and planning and design trauma-sensitive school cultures, they offer a deeper understanding of what it means to be trauma sensitive. The strength of the authors’ work is moving beyond just understanding to providing the guidance leaders need to do this work and start changing students’ school experiences.”

James Trodden, assistant superintendent of learning, Buffalo Trail Public Schools, Alberta, Canada

“Although Trauma-Sensitive Leadership is a valuable resource for any educational practitioner, it is extremely beneficial from the lens of a school administrator. Each chapter encourages you to pause and reflect on the current practices of your building and allows you to see simple, yet important changes every educator and K–12 school should make to ensure their schools are safe and trauma sensitive. Most important, the authors specifically address school leadership, giving them tools to work with their staff, policies, and existing practices and culture to build the type of buildings students need to thrive. This topic has never been more important, and you will want this resource to ensure high levels of learning for all students!”

Brad Neuendorf, principal, Lander Valley High School, Wyoming

Trauma-Sensitive Leadership is a must-have blueprint for any school leader looking to build a trauma-sensitive school. Authors John F. Eller and Tom Hierck’s work is a compilation of easy-to-navigate chapters that are rooted in experience and full of applicable ideas for building a positive school culture to support all students, both with and without trauma. This book offers school-based scenarios and strategies that catch the reader’s attention and set the stage for reflection and learning.”

Jacob T. Engler, principal, William F. Murphy Elementary School, Illinois

“As an elementary principal, I am continually seeking resources to support staff, students, and families when new challenges arise, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which will be felt for many years. In Trauma-Sensitive Leadership, Eller and Hierck provide a timely and relevant resource! Just as Trauma-Sensitive Instruction provided the necessary tools to build and maintain a safe classroom environment for students of trauma, this book gives building leaders the opportunity to reflect on current practices as we shift from ‘What is wrong with that student?’ to ‘What happened to that student?’ This valuable resource provides the necessary tools and strategies to build and sustain a trauma-sensitive school.”

Colleen Crowston, elementary principal, East Valley School District, Washington

“During a time when staff and students universally are facing levels of trauma never before experienced, it has become more crucial than ever for school leaders to learn to lead with empathy, support, and understanding. In this timely and much-needed resource, Eller and Hierck provide school leaders with an abundance of strategies, practices, and tools aimed at developing a trauma-sensitive culture that focuses on nurturing the emotional and mental well-being of those they lead. Definitely a must-read for leaders unafraid to make a difference!”

Faith Short, principal, East Pointe Elementary, Arkansas
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