Optimizing Learning Outcomes: Proven Brain-Centric, Trauma Sensitive Practices


It’s been awhile since my last blog. Being semi-retired has provided so much more time to relax, as well as pursue my passion for sharing best practices for helping anxious and traumatized children. Besides spending time these past few months fixing up our winter get away home, taking in the ocean, Florida’s wild life, balmy evenings and water side meals, I was collaborating with a number of leading practitioners to develop a publication about what matters most to anxious and traumatized student’s efforts to learn and regulate their behaviors. It speaks to everyone involved in the education and development of children today.

Due for publication by Routledge this December, Optimizing Learning Outcomes: Proven Brain-Centric, Trauma Sensitive Practices, is a collection of documented best practices. 

What makes this resource unique? 

1. 100 Links are presented to YouTube segments that support, elaborate and demonstrate the brain-based, trauma-sensitive learning and behavioral regulation practices detailed in this resource. Being able to virtually connect and quickly learn from our peers and leaders in the field (most segments are less than five minute) makes this a practical and easily usable learning and teaching resource. 

2. These “virtual” conversations also support the professional credibility of the entire work and simultaneously introduce you to a long list of additional sources and conversations specific to each topic area. 

3. Because there is no one practice or strategy that fits all students or schools, we have been fortunate to bring programs, strategies and practices to you from a diverse group of educators. They present a variety of ways to accomplish the same goal-improve academic outcomes and student regulation of otherwise challenging behaviors. 

Readers Learn:

  • How our nervous systems and brains function under stress and the impact these functions have on learning and behavior.
  • Learning mindsets shown to improve student motivation to learn while realizing improved learning outcomes. 
  • Relational mindsets for teachers that are critical for remaining proactive rather than reactive to the challenging and sometimes disruptive behaviors of anxious and traumatized students.
  • The well- researched role movement plays in enhancing learning outcomes.
  • The well- researched role self-regulation plays in student's ability to learn and manage reactions to and behaviors triggered by stressful situations.
  • The challenges and solutions for students who are not autistic, yet struggle with sensory processing issues, which negatively influences learning and behavior.
  • The environmental conditions and resources conducive to learning and student regulation.
  • How to make brief verbal and non-verbal connections that matter (CTM’s) with students to support their efforts to learn, manage their behavior and respond positively and successfully to you and your efforts to teach and assist them.
  • Strategies and practices for creating a “whole school” infrastructure to optimize the learning experience for you as well as your students.

Following are comments from several of those who reviewed this work.

If you’re an educator or school mental health specialist, this book is a must read! Steve Sandoval, PhD, executive director of special services with Westminster Public Schools, Colorado, and one of Education Week’s 2016 “Leaders to Learn From”

“This book is a much needed resource and guide for novice and veteran teachers learning to create trauma-sensitive school environments. It provides a comprehensive review of information, examples, strategies, and tools based on research of effective trauma-informed practices.Regena F. Nelson, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies at Western Michigan University


“The editor and the book’s contributors provide readers with a detailed road map of practical, trauma-informed strategies and practices. They are not asking us to do more in our educational system. Instead, they are showing us, through a multitude of examples, that when we change our approach, we can maximize positive behavior and gains in student learning. What greater gift can we offer our most struggling students?Jim Sporleder, MS, former principal at Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, Washington and featured in the award winning documentary Paper Tigers 


This work describes the many successful brain-based, trauma-sensitive practices helping students and schools improve their learning outcomes while regulating behaviors and engaging in compassionate whole school approaches. Anyone in the position of helping children, including parents will be able to immediately integrate theses practices and activities into their daily routines.