Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

A Classroom Framework for Supporting Student Well-Being

Shayna Pond, Brandy Hackett, Keiana Cross, Jennifer Alt | Published: April 13th, 2021 by K20 Center


A Classroom Framework for Supporting Student Well-Being focuses on creating a common language for safety, connections, and coping strategies in the classroom. Participants will reflect on their teaching practices with an eye towards transforming their classrooms into safe and nurturing spaces.

Essential Questions

What are the benefits of students’ feeling safe in the classroom?

Learning Goals

  • Analyze how the Applied Educational Neuroscience framework can transform teaching practice into more effective trauma-informed classroom strategies

  • Reflect on how to integrate the Framework into the classroom

Materials List


5 Minute(s)

Use the attached Presenter Slides to follow along with the lesson. Begin with slide 3. Read aloud the essential question: What are the benefits of students’ feeling safe in the classroom? Then, move to slide 4 and read aloud the training objectives:

  • Analyze how the Applied Educational Neuroscience framework can transform teaching practice into more effective trauma-informed classroom strategies.

  • Reflect on how to integrate the framework into the classroom.

Display slide 5. Introduce participants to the Chalk Talk strategy. As a whole group, begin a discussion using the Chalk Talk strategy with the four question prompts prepared (listed below). Ask each participant to contribute by placing a sticky note with their responses to each question on its respective chart paper. You can also have participants contribute on a shared document if you prefer.

  • What are the benefits of students’ feeling safe in the classroom?

  • What experience have you had as a student in the classroom that made you feel safe?

  • What do you currently try to do to help your students feel safe? 

  • Is providing a safe classroom different for a remote learning class?

After the discussion, highlight some key words and responses that elicit themes that align with the Pillars of the Applied Educational Neuroscience framework:

  1. The educator’s own moods and reactions to their environment (educator brain and body state)

  2. A co-regulated brain and body that feel calm and alert (co-regulation)

  3. Emotional attunement between students and caregivers (attachment/touch points)

  4. Understanding one’s own brain anatomy and mental behaviors (teaching neuroanatomy)


15 Minute(s)

Display slide 6. Invite participants to explore a curated bank of resources related to the Applied Educational Neuroscience framework. Distribute digital copies of the attached and linked Participant Notebook. Consider using the link on the slide to do so:

Provide 10-15 minutes for participants to explore the resources on pages 1-3 of the Participant Notebook.

Next, ask participants to take notes in the Note Catcher space next to each resource about what they have explored. Let them know ahead of time that they will be asked to describe something they found that is helpful to them. Remind participants that they should be prepared to share with the whole group (or a small group if there are too many participants to share out).

If time permits, invite participants to engage in a group discussion. Move to slide 7. Have each participant (or small group) take five minutes to report their findings from the resource exploration to the whole group. Be sure to point out the space provided on each Note Catcher to add ideas as others share out.


15 Minute(s)

Display slide 8. Direct participants to the one-page overview of the Applied Educational Neuroscience framework on page 4 in their Participant Notebooks. Briefly introduce each pillar before watching the video linked in the notebook (and on slide 9): “Applied Educational Neuroscience: Framework Overview

Direct participants to page 5 of the notebook, and invite them to take notes as they watch the video. Ask participants to think about how resources from the Explore phase might fit into these categories. 

Following the video, move to slide 10 and ask participants to share teaching practices that could be adopted to support each pillar. At this point, consider editing the slide to add participants’ contributions to the chart as they share ideas about practices that would fit in each category of the framework. If you are facilitating face-to-face, you can also make a physical chart on an overhead projector or whiteboard space, hand-writing responses.


5 Minute(s)

Finally, move to slide 11. Have participants spend a few minutes making a goal for what they will take into their classrooms based on what they have learned. Direct them to page 6 of their Participant Notebook. Walk through the question prompts with them and invite any questions before providing time for them to reflect individually. 

  • What will you do to support student well-being in your classroom?

  • Why will this activity or strategy support student well-being? In what way does it connect to the framework?

  • How and when will you implement this goal? (During what part of your day, week, etc. will you be using this strategy?)

  • Who or what will you look to if you have difficulty?


5 Minute(s)

If time permits, ask for volunteers who’d like to share their goal with the group.

Research Rationale

The framework of Applied Educational Neuroscience addresses brain and body development, awareness and how trauma and adversity affect development through an educator’s lens as we explore the four pillars: attachment/touch points, co-regulation, educator brain and body state, and teaching students and staff about their own neuroanatomy. These four pillars support a relational and brain-aligned discipline lens that addresses the behaviors, communication, relationships, sensations, feelings, and thoughts of all students and staff.

This new lens for discipline is preventative, brain-aligned, relational, and is part of educators’ procedures, routines, bell work, morning meetings, and rituals throughout the day. This work begins with staff and adult brain and body regulation. Research shows that many of the achievement gaps we see are a result of adversity gaps that can be lessened through repetitive patterned regulatory and connective experiences (Hambrick, Brawner, & Perry, 2019; Desautels, 2015b; Desautels, 2019). We need to teach the behaviors we want to see unfold.

This framework is a process, not scripted, and focuses on the blending of pillars as we address emotional and behavioral challenges arising from adversities and traumas in our classrooms and schools.