Anxiety, Stress, or Trauma? Addressing Students’ MultiTiered Emotional Self-Regulation Needs

While all students need to feel safe and connected to adults and peers in all school settings, students—especially those with disabilities—who are experiencing the social, emotional, and behavioral impact of anxiety, stress, and trauma especially need this security. Critically—especially during this Pandemic—“trauma” has been highlighted over the more-prevalent conditions of anxiety and stress. In fact, many schools are implementing trauma-sensitive programs even as a recent research review of over 7,000 school-based studies over the past decade established that most trauma-sensitive programs have not been effectively field tested and/or are not scientifically proven.

Schools need to implement multi-tiered approaches that address students’ emotional regulation needs at the prevention, strategic intervention, or intensive/ clinical need levels. To this end, this presentation will discuss a psychologically based, multi-tiered prevention, strategic intervention, and intensive need/crisis response system of supports for students experiencing significant levels of emotionality in their lives. This system focuses especially on developing students’ interpersonal, social problem-solving, conflict prevention and resolution, and emotional control, communication, and coping skills. Requiring the involvement of everyone in the school, one significant goal is to create stress-sensitive and response approaches that create school-wide environments where all children, including those who have been traumatized, can be successful.

After clinically differentiating anxiety, stress, and trauma—emphasizing, once again, that more students are stressed than traumatized, the presentation will provide an evidence-based instructional approach that teaches students emotional regulation and self-control skills. This discussion will begin at the Tier I level, and then move to describing the Tier II and Tier III modifications and additions needed for students with strategic or intensive needs—including those that are disability and mental health-related. Participants will leave with a field-tested, science-to-practice continuum that has been implemented in thousands of schools across the country through the primary presenter’s consultations over the past 40 years. 


1. Participants will learn about the clinical differences between anxiety, stress, and trauma, and why more students experience stress than trauma.

2. Participants will learn about the science-to-practice components of a psychologically-based, multi-tiered, stress-informed system.

3. Participants will learn about the multi-tiered elements that teach and strategies and interventions that facilitate students’ emotional self-regulation and self-control.


Thursday 9:00 AM - 11:45 AM

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  • Howard Knoff, Ph.D.

    Dr. Howie Knoff is an internationally-known innovator and hands-on practitioner in the areas of: School Improvement and Turn-Around, Strategic Planning and Organizational Development , School Discipline, Classroom Management, and Student Self-Management (PBIS/PBSS/ SEL), Differentiated Academic Instruction and Academic Interventions for Struggling Students, Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Instruction and Strategic and Intensive Interventions for Challenging Students, Multi-tiered (MTSS/RtI) Services and Supports, and Effective Professional Development and OnSite Consultation and Technical Assistance

    Howie is the CEO of Project ACHIEVE Educational Solutions, and he has implemented his innovative school improvement approaches in thousands of schools or districts over the past 40 years through his Project ACHIEVE program— designated by U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as an evidence-based model prevention program in 2000. An international expert on school safety and discipline, classroom management and school-wide SEL systems, student engagement and achievement, and interventions with behaviorally challenging students, Dr. Knoff was a tenured Full Professor (22 years at the University of South Florida and SUNY-Albany), and Director of the federally-funded State Personnel Development/State Improvement Grant for the Arkansas Department of Education for 13 years—responsible there (with his staff) for school improvement, PBIS, and MTSS services and supports to districts and schools across the state.

    Howie received the Lightner Witmer Award from the American Psychological Association’s School Psychology Division for early career contributions in 1990. He has been awarded over $40 million in federal or foundation grants during his career. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (School Psychology Division), a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, and a Licensed Psychologist. Howie has extensive experience as an Expert Witness in federal and state court cases across the U.S., he is frequently interviewed across many different media outlets, and he was the 21st President of NASP.