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Teaching to Strengths: Supporting Students Living with Trauma, Violence, and Chronic Stress


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Half the students in U.S. schools are experiencing or have experienced trauma, violence, or chronic stress. Much has been written about these students from a therapeutic perspective, especially regarding how to provide them with adequate counseling supports and services. Conversely, little has been written about teaching this population and doing so from a strengths-based perspective.

Table of contents

Preparing to Work with Diverse Learners

Creating a Strengths-Based Classroom Learning Environment

About the authors

Debbie Zacarian is known for her expertise in strengths-based leadership, instructional practices, and partnerships with culturally and linguistically diverse student and family populations. As founder of Zacarian & Associates and with more than three decades of combined experience as a district administrator, University of Massachusetts-Amherst faculty member, and educational service leader, she provides sustained policy and practice supports for educators that help them work more successfully with diverse student and family populations to strengthen achievement and outcomes. Her work credo is "achievement through access, equity, and engagement."

Zacarian was the founder and director of the Center for English Language Education and Advancing Student Achievement at the Collaborative for Educational Services. As founding director of Amherst Public Schools bilingual and English learner program, she and the district received many local, state, and national honors for its work with English learners. Zacarian has authored multiple books and more than 100 journal articles and educational policies for urban, suburban, and rural districts and state agencies.


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Instructional Strategies

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