icon representing two students with letters and numbers

What do I do? Trauma-sensitive strategies for challenging behaviours

In this presentation, trauma-informed educators Sarah Brooks, Perveen Engineer, Fiona James, and Regan Rankin use Lily’s story (and others) to share strategies on how to:

  • deal with behaviour issues
  • foster self-regulation
  • nurture a growth mindset

There are two ways to access the presentation:

  • Watch the videos below, working through the Pause and Ponder activities on your own or with one or more colleagues (recommended!)
  • Listen to audio of the entire presentation below or by downloading the mp3

icon representing two students with letters and numbers

Meet Lily

Lily is a kindergarten student who has been having difficulty adjusting to her new classroom. Her daycare reported no concerns about her transitioning to kindergarten. She is very bright – able to read sight words and familiar words with no problem. When she is engaged in a hands-on learning activity, she generally does quite well.

During carpet time, she often interrupts, shouts at or hits others or gets up and runs out of the room and around the school shouting and giggling loudly. When the teacher and EA try to get her to come back into the room, she either appears to not listen and continues running or kicks and hits and yells, “I hate you!” This same behavior is often noted when the teacher and EA are busy helping other students during desk work. During snack and lunch times, she often refuses to eat anything, creating more of a problem in the afternoons.


Video Transcript
Watch Introduction

Pause and Ponder

Does Lily’s story remind you of any student you’ve encountered in your practice?

Watch What’s happening in the brain?
Watch Why is it happening?
Pause and Ponder

Consider Dr Stuart Shanker’s Example Stressors in the 5 Domains of Self-Reg. Do you recognize any of these as triggers in yourself or your students?

Watch The Three R’s (Regulate, Relate, Reason)
Pause and Ponder

List some things to do to connect with your students. For ideas look at 10 ways to Build Relationships with Kids.

Watch Building Relationships
Pause and Ponder

Consider situations where you could help your students “meet their power needs” as listed in Kristin Wiens’ Rethinking Power Needs graphic.

Watch Creating a Safe Space
Pause and Ponder

How might you make use of the Kelty Mental Health S.E.L.F. Toolkit with your students?

Watch Mindfulness
Pause and Ponder

Consider introducing mindfulness in your classroom by exploring ideas on Mindfulness for Kids.

Watch Having a Plan
Pause and Ponder

Do you have plans in place? Who’s on the team to share the plans with?

Watch An Example
Pause and Ponder

Who could you call if you need help?

Watch Debriefs: Parveen and Regan
Pause and Ponder

Are you familiar with what mental health supports are available to you through your district or school?

Watch Debriefs: Sarah
Pause and Ponder

Do you have a group of colleagues who can offer each other support when needed?

Watch Debriefs: Fiona
Pause and Ponder

Do you share plans with students, so they understand who’s there to help?

Watch Consequences: Perveen
Pause and Ponder

Consider exploring Dr Ross Greene’s Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) model.

Watch Consequences: Regan
Pause and Ponder

Consider how you might use contingency maps.

Watch Consequences: Sarah
Pause and Ponder

Consider ways you might incorporate a PBIS approach into your practice.

Watch Tips for Educators
Pause and Ponder

Is there a tip you’d like to try out soon?


Echo, Dos and Don’ts of a Trauma-informed Compassionate Classroom poster

Dr Ross Greene, Lives in the Balance, Educators/Schools, Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) model

Dr Sam Himelstein, Trauma-informed Mindfulness, Teaching and Care interview

Sarah Joseph, The Animals in my Brain

Ketly Mental Health, S.E.L.F. Toolkit for Kids

and S.E.L.F. Toolkit for Adolescents

Mindful, Mindfulness for Kids

Dr. Linda O’Neill, Trauma Informed in the Classroom infographic

Open School BC, Building Compassionate Communities in a New Normal

Pathway 2 Success, 10 ways to Build Relationships with Kids

SD 41 Learning Support Services, Contingency maps

Daniel Siegel, Hand model of the brain

Whitney Stewart and Mina Braun, Mindful Kids: 50 Mindfulness Activities for Kindness, Focus and Calm activity cards

Dr. Stuart Shanker, The MEHRIT Centre, Self-Reg for Educators

The Asante Centre, FASD Resources for Educators and Support Workers

Kristin Wiens, North Star Paths, downloadable graphics on self-regulation and inclusion

Yukon Schools, PBIS (Positive Behaviour Interventions and Supports) Resources


image of Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks, president of Teachers of Inclusive Education BC (TIE-BC), is a Learning Assistance Resource Teacher in School District 85, Vancouver Island North who works at the elementary level. Sarah believes that all students deserve a quality education in a safe and caring environment. As the president of TIE-BC, Sarah is committed to delivering quality professional development opportunities to educators in BC and beyond. She has 15 years of experience as a Learning Assistance Resource Teacher. Sarah holds a certificate in self-regulation from the MEHRIT Centre as well as a BA in French from the University of Saskatchewan. She also holds a Bachelor of Education with a Specialization in Special Inclusive Education from the University of Lethbridge.

image of Perveen Engineer

Perveen Engineer

Perveen Engineer is a Youth and Family Worker at Admiral Seymour on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. She works with a diverse community of families from all over the world. Her goal is to help build and foster resources for a better future for students. She is passionate about what she does and is blessed to work in the community that makes her life richer.

Perveen has been with the Vancouver School Board for over twenty years as support staff, behaviour interventionist, Peer to Peer mentor, and as a part of an Intensive Support Team. She provided skills to staff throughout the district on best practice for students with dysregulation. She is also a trainer of Non-Crisis Intervention, Low Arousal, PBIS, and delivers pro-d on Zones of Regulation and Trauma Informed practice. She also delivers a learning series to the Education Assistant Program for Burnaby/Vancouver.

Perveen is hounoured to live, play, and work on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Skxwú7mesh-ulh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and Tsleil-Watututh peoples.

image of Fiona James

Fiona James

Fiona James is part of a District Inclusion Support Team on the Sunshine Coast whose vision is that education will be an inclusive experience for all, where everyone has the opportunity to reach and celebrate their true potential. She is dynamically involved in the development of programs and plans which serve to support educators, students, parents, and school goals. She does this through connection, collaboration, and a trauma-sensitive lens. Fiona is also actively involved in the Teachers of Inclusive Education Association as their treasurer.

Fiona has 22 years of teaching experience from K-12 in a variety of roles. Fiona completed her master’s degree in Special Education from UBC. Fiona, her husband, and daughter can often be found exploring the forest and coastline on the Sunshine Coast.

image of Regan Rankin

Regan Rankin

Regan Rankin is an inclusive educator, improvisor, presenter, and mom. Regan has been a teacher for 20+ years and is currently the vice-president of Teachers of Inclusive Education BC (TIE-BC) and a learning support teacher in the North Vancouver School District (SD44). She is a passionate advocate of the notion that behavior is communication. Regan is a creative, out of the box thinker when creating support strategies for the students and teachers she loves to support.

image of Dean Shareski

Moderator Dean Shareski

Dean Shareski is an award-winning leader, teacher, speaker, coach and author. He has worked as a classroom teacher, district leader and built community throughout North America. He also has over 12 years of experience in online instructional design and teaching. Dean is a seasoned presenter who brings high energy, humour and isn’t afraid to challenge himself and others with provocative thinking and ideas.

Twitter: @shareski
Blog: http://ideasandthoughts.org

This presentation originated as a recorded webinar from March 11, 2021, part of the Ministry of Education’s Teaching Tenaciously: A Webinar Series to Support Educators as They Navigate Through Times of Uncertainty and Change.