The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast, Episode 218

Jennifer Gonzalez, host

GONZALEZ: As a teacher, you probably find yourself in situations pretty often where you’re made aware of a student having needs or challenges that exceed what your school typically offers them. It might be a need for extra time or attention, a shortage of school supplies, food, or clothing, a need for transportation, a need for help with organization, structure, time management. The list of student needs in so many schools is never-ending, and your desire to help meet them is probably pretty strong, too. But attempting to meet these needs on your own — to become a kind of “savior” to your students — can not only lead to burnout for you, it’s also not ultimately that helpful to the student long-term.

My guest today is Alex Shevrin Venet, author of the book Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education. This is Alex’s third time on the podcast. The first time was in episode 209, when we did an overview of trauma-informed teaching. There were two topics from the book that I thought were so important I wanted to do a deeper dive on them, so we did separate episodes for each of these. In episode 214 we talked about a concept called unconditional positive regard, a stance toward working with students that’s grounded in giving them love and acceptance without making them earn it first. And today we’re going to talk about the danger of getting into a savior mentality when helping our students, how to tell if you’re slipping into that kind of thinking, and how to shift toward healthier and more helpful ways of thinking about and approaching student needs.

Before we get started, I’d like to thank our sponsor, the Modern Classrooms Project, which empowers educators to meet every student’s needs. Created by educators, for educators, the Modern Classrooms Project can help you create your own instructional videos, design structures to support self-paced learning, and ensure that each of your students achieves mastery. Join their free online course to learn the basics, or sign up for their Virtual Mentorship Program, where their experts will prepare you to launch a Modern Classroom of your own. If you’re ready to transform teaching, visit to start learning now.

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Now here’s my conversation with Alex Shevrin Venet about how to avoid falling into a savior mentality.

GONZALEZ: Alex, welcome back.

VENET: Thanks so much. Glad to be here again.

GONZALEZ: So this is the third of three episodes that are all linked to trauma-informed teaching and, you know, there were two concepts that I just felt really deserved their own whole episode. And so what we’re talking about in this third one is the idea of the savior mentality and how we see teachers sort of falling into this trap and so I wanted to really do a deep dive on this and why is it a problem. And so why don’t we just start with that, with what is the savior mentality and what’s wrong with that?

VENET: So the savior mentality is this mindset that teachers can get into for a variety of reasons which we might dive into together, but that basically has us looking at students who’ve experienced trauma or who are struggling, and sort of taking on this feeling that our role is to rescue them. So rather than kind of seeing that we might support them, it’s really more of this dynamic where “You’re the one that needs to be rescued; I can do the rescuing. You’re the one that needs saving; I can save you.” And one way I think about it is, it’s almost like when you are looking at the weather forecast and then the day comes and you look at what the forecast said and you go outside dressed for the forecast. But then the weather’s actually changed, but you stay so connected to what the forecast said that you’re dressed wrong for the day or you’re not prepared for the weather, rather than kind of poking your head outside and seeing what is the weather actually feeling like today? What do I need to be prepared? It’s that sort of faulty expectation that prevents us from actually using our senses and being present and really seeing, what does this student need? Not what does this narrative say that the student needs? What have other teachers said that they need? But from my relationship with them, what do they need and how could I support them?

GONZALEZ: So why do you think, why do you think teachers tend to fall into this savior mentality?

VENET: One big reason is that our whole society tells us that we should, right? Like you see stories in the newspaper, on tv, that are about, you know, the hero teacher adopts their student who had nowhere else to go. The hero teacher, you know, bakes homemade muffins every day for a year for their hungry student, right? These stories are kind of elevated but they’re actually not feel-good stories. They’re kind of “feel gross” stories because what they’re doing — I just coined that, did you like that?

GONZALEZ: I do, yeah.

VENET: “Feel-gross stories,” well because they really highlight the inequities that teachers should not really be responsible for, right? Like if we’re saying “Oh this teacher was the one finally to adopt this student,” we could just ask well, why was the teacher the only person positioned to do that? If the teacher’s the one, you know, buying food out of their own money or cooking things on the weekend, you know, why does that kid not have food already? What are the systemic failures that are preventing the school from having food, right? And so it’s sort of a bunch of this societal stuff. And then I also think that savior mentality sometimes feels easier than being present because when you let go of savior mentality you start to see that you’re just going to be one small piece of a student’s story. And the thing that happens in the movie where one hero teacher totally turns a kid’s life around, it doesn’t really happen like that in real life. But that’s hard because when you witness a kid who’s struggling, it’s normal to really want to help them. And to really acknowledge and sit with the discomfort that you probably are not going to fix what is harming them, it’s just really sad and hard. And so when we don’t have the time or the space to kind of feel our feelings, I think it feeds into this savior mentality because it’s just easier to go yeah, I can fix it, I can save them. I can be the rescuer.

GONZALEZ: So in the book you’ve got a chart basically of sort of statements that represent the kind of thinking that we do when we are operating in a savior mentality. And I thought it would be helpful to go through these, because maybe the people listening hear this initial description and think, well, I don’t think I do that. But maybe if they see how it actually plays out in our thoughts, they may actually recognize some of those kinds of patterns. So the first one is — and for each one, maybe we can talk about what’s the problem underlying this thinking and what would be a better stance instead. So the first one is, “My students with trauma are broken. I feel so bad for those kids.”

VENET: So this one is tricky for a couple of reasons. One being that again, the cultural narrative about trauma usually pushes us to one of two directions, the first direction being that people with trauma are broken. You know, you see people experiencing trauma on TV and you see them totally subsumed by flashbacks and anger and lashing out and, and just in a dark place. The other narrative that you see a lot is kind of the “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” narrative, where you go through trauma and it makes you a superhero. It transforms you. I actually, I was watching some, you know, during the pandemic we would do movie night, and a lot of the Disney and Pixar movies about kids who become superheroes or things, they all kind of start with the kids’ parents dying in a really traumatic way and then they become like a superhero. And I was really reflecting on that like, oh, what what message are we sending to people that that’s how you get special powers is by going through early traumatic grief? But anyway, so we get these narratives kind of on two ends — either that trauma transforms you in a positive way or trauma transforms you in a negative way. But the truth is that trauma might and does often transform people. But it’s really much more messy than that often. People might see some elements of growth or strength come out of surviving trauma, but they also can have a lot of struggle in a lot of hard times. And so when we glamorize it in one way or when we say, you know, this is the worst thing ever and you’ll never recover in another way, it again goes back to that idea of looking at the forecast as opposed to looking at the weather, right? If we look at students and try to see them, actually see them, then we’re not going to just feel bad for them because we’re going to know them, that they are whole and complete people, that they have skills and strengths and they’re silly and funny and they also struggle. And so it’s really that actual building of relationships that’s the antidote to this one, rather than feeling a sense of pity, which is going to put us in a place of maybe, you know, talking down to students, lowering our expectations, not challenging them enough. You know it’s just actually getting to know students and seeing how is trauma really impacting this kid? Or even without knowing exactly what’s going on for them, just who are they? What’s going on for them?

GONZALEZ: And that’s a, a more complicated way of approaching a person. It’s not as cut and dry. And so it requires sort of slowing down and being thoughtful and really being present. And that’s, you know, I think sometimes teachers have so much to do that it’s like just give me the this or that, and the binary thinking, and let me just move forward. We got our kids with trauma and kids without trauma. It’s never that simple.

VENET: Mhmm.

GONZALEZ: So the second statement is, “My students are not capable of helping themselves. I need to save them.”

VENET: So this is, you know, following along similar ideas, but this idea that people don’t heal from trauma without, you know, that one person who’s going to help get them through it. You know, it reminds me of people often repeat this idea that it just takes one caring adult to help a child survive and thrive. And it is true that one caring adult can make a huge difference. But I think that how people sometimes misinterpret that is that one, any one caring adult can turn a child’s life around, or that it only should be just one person as opposed to a community. Right? There’s sort of this individualism. Whereas what the research and also just experience tells us about healing is that it takes a lifetime. It takes a community. People benefit from a whole web of supportive people around them. And so if we look at just sort of okay, I as the teacher, I’m going to be the one that can save or rescue them. It’s really leaning on this idea of almost taking power away from both the child and their community. Whereas if I see myself as one of many, that’s helpful. And if I recognize that people inherently have their own strengths and capacities to survive and heal. So at the same time that I’m not going to glamorize resilience and say, “Oh kids are so resilient. They’ll just get over the hard times.” I am going to say, you know, people have their own strengths and capabilities, and so another person doesn’t need me to survive and heal through trauma. What they do need is maybe a community of people, and if they do need something from me, maybe that’s what I can contribute to. And so I’ll make this a little more concrete with an example, which is that I had a student once who I was really close with. We had a great relationship. I had her for a couple of years and so, you know, we knew each other well. She would sometimes talk to me when she was having a hard time. And then one year I noticed that she was sort of seeming kind of quieter and withdrawn. It seems like something was up, and I asked her a few times, you know, what’s going on? You know, do you, do you want to talk about it? All this stuff, and she just kind of brushed me off. And then I find out a couple months later from my school director, the director didn’t tell me what had happened, but she just said, hey this student had something big going on. She doesn’t really want to talk to her teachers about it. What she needs right now is for you to refocus her on her work when she’s getting distracted, and that’s going to help her through this time. And my initial response was actually really, I felt kind of upset with myself, and I felt sort of like I failed in some regard because I was like, well, why didn’t she come to me? We’re so close. Why didn’t she come to me? I could have helped her. I could have worked through it with her. But when I was able to step back and really look at that, she probably shouldn’t have come to me, right? I am just one of many teachers that she had. And for whatever was going on for her, I can imagine a lot of scenarios where it was probably much more appropriate for her to go to the school director than go to one of her teachers, right, from a boundaries perspective. Also from the perspective of the school director has many more resources and connections to other people who might be able to help her. And so if I’m going into that relationship thinking, you know, I’m going to be the one to help her. I have to be this essential resource for her. I’m sort of undermining that student’s wisdom of who’s going to be the right person for me. What do I need from those around me? When am I ready to get help? She knew all of that. The student knew all of those things, and if I had really pushed harder than I did, I would have been undermining her — what’s the word I’m looking for — her agency, right? Her self-direction.

GONZALEZ: That leads really beautifully right into the question that I have actually at the end. I’ll jump to that now, because I feel like hand in hand with the savior mentality is the teacher kind of centering themselves and making themselves the superstar of the story. And so this statement really resonated with me. My value is in how much my students respond to me. And I don’t know why that resonated, because it’s that taking it personally when they don’t come to you, or if they just don’t sort of warm up to you the way that you think that they should. So let’s talk about why that’s, that could be a problem for some people.

VENET: Yeah, I mean so much about relationships that are impacted by trauma just doesn’t really follow logic. I’m thinking of students that I’ve had where they had a really strong reaction, negative reaction, to certain teachers not based on anything that that teacher did but because that teacher’s gender or their appearance or even just their energy was similar to another person who had harmed that student in the past. And because trauma embeds itself in our memory through our senses, you can often feel triggered by people regardless of who they are but just because they have a vibe, or they have the same haircut, or whatever.


VENET: And so often a person who’s going through trauma might have a response to someone that truly has nothing to do with that person. So that’s one element is that if I’m placing my whole self-worth on does this student trust me and confide in me and see me as their helper, I’m already setting myself up for failure because there’s all kinds of things that are out of my control around how they’re reacting to me. But even beyond that, again it just goes back to self-determination. And if my value is about whether the student feels supported by me and healed by me and thinks I’m the best teacher ever and can come to me and confide in me, that’s placing a lot on a kid who’s just trying to live their life, right? Like, I can’t look to a student to get all of my emotional needs met, because you just never will.


VENET: Because there’s a power imbalance, and they’re a kid, and my job is to teach them, and they literally have no choice about whether they are there. And so for all of those reasons, we really have to detach ourselves from this sense of like how they respond to me is going to be my self-worth. And my mentor Katie, who I talk a lot about in the book, would often say to us that whether or not your student has a good day shouldn’t determine whether you had a good day. That idea of if I had a solid plan going into the day, if I was present and responsive, if I used my tools and strategies, right? Like if I did all that I’m trained to do and used the best of my skills and capabilities, then I had a good day as a teacher, regardless of whether my students were having a hard time, right?


VENET: That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t feel, you know, I’m allowed to have emotions if my students had a really bad day. But if your students aren’t present for learning or something’s going on for them, it doesn’t invalidate the planning that you did, the work that you did to be present, the strategies you used.


VENET: So again, yeah, it’s just really about that self-determination and making a separation between, you know, your process and me doing my job.

GONZALEZ: Yeah, and I think it sort of dovetails with the one before it having to do with if you’re not making yourself the one who is going to save this child, and you’re making connections for them with other resources and other community members then that, it’s easier to have a successful day if that’s your goal. As opposed to showing up every day, giving 100 percent to save this child all by yourself. So the last statement in this list is “teachers can provide the love students don’t get at home.”

VENET: So this is a huge one to me that indicates a savior mentality, and it goes hand in hand with things like, I’ve also heard the phrase “the kids who need love the most will ask for it in the most unloving ways” or I’ve heard things like “school might be the only place that students can come and feel loved.” And my problem with these phrases is that they make a whole lot of assumptions, and they often are stated when people are talking about students with behavioral challenges, and often they’re talking about students who are poor, who are students of color, who are students with disabilities, or who otherwise are the targets of bias, basically. There’s sort of this coded language around, oh, the students who aren’t getting love at home can come to school and get love. It’s kind of like, well, what makes you feel like they’re not getting love at home? What is indicating that to you? And I think a key thing to unpack there would be the difference between loving a child and having all of the resources that you need to successfully parent them, given all of the challenges that might be around you, right?


VENET: There are a lot of parents who love their child so much that they work multiple jobs and therefore aren’t home to help them with their homework. There are parents who love their child so much that they come up with custody agreements to make sure that the child is in a stable place to live. And so again, maybe they don’t see them as much, or maybe there’s stuff around who to contact, or these things that you might see as a teacher of “oh, the parent doesn’t come to school,” or “the parent doesn’t answer their emails” or “there seems to be conflict with these co-parents” or “the kid doesn’t have clean shirts that they wear.” Like, these are just little things, and to really extrapolate and say that family doesn’t love that child is making huge leaps and bounds. And I will also say that love and trauma can coexist, right? People can be traumatized in a very loving home, and if we go back to the idea that is a pretty core part of “Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education” is that kids experience trauma at school. That has nothing to do with how much their parents love them at home, right? So there’s just so many assumptions there, and it really again feeds into that idea of checking the forecast instead of seeing what the weather is. If I am looking at my assumptions about love being present or not present, and then I decide that this kid’s not loved therefore I’m going to be the one to love them, I’m just leading with all of these assumptions about what they need as opposed to getting to know the student, getting to know their family, getting to know our community.

And then if I do determine that maybe they don’t have the resources they need, it doesn’t have to be just my job to address that. That’s where I can act as a connection maker and think about what are the other resources? How can we really support this kid and their family or their caregivers so that they can all be healthy and successful, right? And it reminds me as well of the idea, a lot of really transformative work can happen if you take a two-generation approach, which is you’re supporting the parents or caregivers and their child together, right? Because that’s part of what provides healing is having those strong family connections, strong community connections. And so if I isolate, “Okay, I’m going to care about this kid, but I’m going to judge their parents.” That’s not really helping.

GONZALEZ: That’s a real good point. So let’s take a minute to talk about confidentiality. In most cases, It’s really important to protect student privacy and the trust that we have built with our students. But then there’s also the issue of mandated reporting. So, you know, statistically we’ve got lots and lots of new teachers in the classroom every year, some who are coming through alternative certification. And so I think it’s really important that whenever we’re talking about helping students who have any kind of struggles or trauma that we, you know, make it clear what teachers need to know about confidentiality.

VENET: Yeah, so the first level is really to just be clear about the expectations at your school and in your state and in your country, so to make sure that you understand what the actual law is and what are the types of situations where you need to follow through on mandated reporting. Because I think that sometimes we develop an assumption of what those situations are, and you just want to make sure that you’re clear about it in your specific context. And then once you’re clear on that, from a trauma-informed perspective, not being a savior means, again, that self-determination. And part of how we can foster that for kids and their families is being really transparent and clear about what are the situations where I might need to make a mandated report, and as much as possible, you know, slowing down and taking steps to communicate in your process of doing that.

Now I will say that for most teachers, you’re going to be collaborating with someone like a counselor or your administrator as you’re determining whether to make a report or not. So on that end of things, I leave it to your collaboration. But there’s some proactive things we can do to sort of establish a sense of trust. Because something that can be really hard as we’re becoming trauma informed and kind of opening up conversations about emotions and things like that, is that we want to make sure we’re not inviting a kid to share, and then all of a sudden we turn around and make this report and unfortunately, although mandated reporting is supposed to safeguard kids, being involved in that system can actually be very harmful for a lot of families. And there’s a lot of harm of the, you know, child and youth services system in many states that families can experience. And so being transparent ahead of time in ways that work for your age group.

So for example, you know I’ve taught high schoolers mostly, and with that group, I might just simply talk to them when we’re first developing our teacher-student relationship and say, you know, here’s the type of things that I’m always happy to talk to you about. There are some things that I would prefer that you go to your counselor about, and then just so you know, in these couple of categories, that’s what triggers a mandated report in our school, in our state, and that’s when I would have to make a phone call. So I just want you to be aware when you’re thinking about those things. So with my student I mentioned before who was deciding whether to talk to me about something, part of what might have been going on for her is if I share this thing, then a process might begin that I don’t have control over, so let me think carefully about it. And in my experience — and I’ve talked with, you know, some clinical staff about this, social workers — you know, a question I get is, well, don’t you think that that would prevent people from getting help, because you’re basically telling kids not to tell the truth. In effect, I don’t think that it has that impact, especially because, you know, we never want to be coercive. And so if we’re kind of not being honest about mandated reporting, or when we’re going to have to share information, we’re sort of creating this false expectation that can, yeah, feel like coercion of “well, tell me your story, but then I’m going to go do something with it that you weren’t expecting.” And so the transparency helps to build trust.

I also really like, I saw the other day on Instagram from a school social worker whose account is trauma informed SEL. And she had a great example of a sign that she puts in her office, and it says, “What you say in here stays in here unless…” and then she lists out “someone is hurting you, you plan to hurt yourself, you plan to hurt someone else, or you give me permission.” And then it says, “Why? Because I respect privacy, but sometimes I have to share with an adult so they can help keep you safe.” That’s just so beautiful. It’s in student friendly language. It’s really clear. It tells them why, and it gives them that agency and that self-determination to say, “I’m going to make an informed choice about what I share with you.”


VENET: And so it doesn’t have to be super complicated to do this type of communication, but to resist that savior mentality, the transparency, and then just trusting students to make their own decisions about what they want to share.

GONZALEZ: Good. Thank you for clearing that up, and you’re right, that statement does make it crystal clear to the student in the room. So the last issue is, I want to just talk a little bit sort of about boundaries. A teacher that gets too deep into savior mentality can cross over into martyr mentality. And so can you talk a little bit about how teachers need to have a more realistic view of the limitations of the profession, of our system, and how they can protect their time and energy?

VENET: Yeah. The phrase that comes to mind for me is something like, I’m forgetting what the quote is, but it’s like “don’t burn yourself down so that others can have light” or something like, you know, there’s some quote like that.


VENET: I think one of the hardest things about teaching in the system we have today is that even when all of the other resources don’t exist, we as teachers still cannot make up for that gap ourselves, right? So if a student that is talking with me and keeps bringing up the same issue about a conflict with their mom, and it sounds really intense and I start to go, “This is really outside my wheelhouse. It really sounds like this kid needs someone trained to help them process this.” I make a referral to counseling. There’s no one available inside the school. I see about, you know, is there a counselor outside of school that’s taking referrals? There’s a six-month waitlist. There’s nobody available for this kid. Even though there’s no one else available, I still should not take it upon myself to become a counselor or a psychologist and delve into the psyche of this student. And the reason I can’t and shouldn’t do that is because it’s not my job, it’s not my role, and I’m not trained to, and I might actually be doing harm if I try, because I don’t know what you’re supposed to do as a therapist to work through that stuff, right? Like I don’t, I’m not bound by the same code of ethics. I don’t have, you know, the skills about if something else comes up, right? There’s all these reasons.

But what’s really hard is that what that ends up looking like sometimes is then this kid’s not getting help. And so you know as a teacher it’s so hard to stand in that gap. And I think that the two things I would say to people are on the one side, just feel empowered to have those boundaries and remember that you might be protecting your own time and energy, but you also are protecting the well-being of your students when you don’t cross boundaries. Students who experience trauma — and all students, really — are relying on you to have a clear role and a clear place in their life and to have clear boundaries. And when you start to transgress that, you’re actually making them less safe. You’re confusing them. You’re reinforcing the idea that, you know, people aren’t going to behave as expected. They’re going to start, you know, getting into business that might not be part of their role in your life. It creates confusion and a lack of safety. So even if sometimes you’re feeling like, well, maybe I really should provide more emotional support to this kid because they’re not getting it somewhere else, just feel empowered that you’re actually supporting their safety if you don’t. And then alongside that, I encourage teachers to just be really loud about these gaps. Your administrator might already be aware that there is a demand that’s not being met. But let them know. Every time that you want to make a referral and you feel like you can’t because there’s no availability, let them know. Write to your school board and let them know. Write to your state legislators and let them know, right? A lot of these things need to be solved at a systemic level, right? Because sometimes part of the reason there’s these long waitlists is because of, I don’t know, insurance funding and Medicaid law and, you know, pipelines for licensure and like these really complex things that really need to be addressed not just at your school.

And so if teachers can collectively say, “Here’s what we need. We need more mental health support.” Or maybe it’s we need food pantries that are more accessible, or maybe, you know, whatever the need is that you’re setting that boundary around and saying “it doesn’t make sense for me to meet this,” if you have the time, if you have the energy, just take the little extra step and let people know we need this. Or if it’s budget time and there’s comment, right? So not to put more on people’s plates, but if we want to use our voices and help kids’ needs get met, then we have to let folks know what those needs really are, the gaps that we’re seeing on the ground.

GONZALEZ: Yeah. You know it, the math actually is working for me in my head, because if I’m a teacher who’s investing all this extra time in trying to save one student by, I don’t know what it is, giving them extra rides places or sitting with them and talking with them three afternoons every week. If I’m setting stronger boundaries, that is freeing up some time for me to then take that time and energy and put it toward larger change, more systemic change. So if a teacher still has that urge, “I have to do something,” rather than directing it all toward the one student and trying to save — I mean in a way, the logic is that if you, if you keep filling the gaps bit by bit yourself, then they’re never going to get fixed on the systemic level.

VENET: Yes, and I also think about, you know, sometimes I ask teachers, if you got abducted by aliens tomorrow, would your school be any more trauma informed than when you were there? And if you are baking the muffins every morning, and doing a lunch group and kind of providing informal counseling for a group of students, and you are doing case coordination that really should be done by a school social worker, and then at the end of the school year you decide to move to a different school, all of those things that you are kind of informally doing are just not going to happen for the next batch of students.


VENET: Whereas if we can take some time and say, okay, and maybe sometimes you even take a minute to phase out of something, right? I’m going to keep baking muffins for two more weeks but while I do that, I’m really going to get on my principal’s case and say, “I know we’re supposed to have free breakfast in this school, but the location where it’s distributed really isn’t working for my students. Can we problem-solve this?” Right? Like what can I do so that this problem isn’t going to happen again and again and again.


VENET: But could I do something even just with a few moments so that if I am abducted by aliens tomorrow, that batch of students is not having the same issue as when I was filling the gaps.

GONZALEZ: That is a great question. I love that because again, it really, really takes the effort that a person thinks they’re making to make things better and puts it into such a larger perspective of are you really helping or are you just, in some ways, making yourself still the celebrity of this story?


GONZALEZ: Think about ways of impacting larger change.

VENET: Yes. And I do want to end with just if you are a teacher and you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, “Oh, I guess I kind of have been acting in this savior mentality” or you’re sitting and you’re thinking, “I am doing a bunch of stuff, but I really don’t know how I’m going to be able to stop doing that,” I just want to tell you to be gentle with yourself. Because as we talked about right at the top of this conversation, you didn’t create this dynamic. This dynamic was created for you by the gross combination of cultural narratives, underfunding of schools, scattershot policies that don’t equitably meet the needs of students and teachers, and then here you are in the middle of that trying to do the best you can. And so if you have slipped into a savior mentality because you care, don’t leave this conversation thinking that you’re doing something wrong.


VENET: Because all you’ve been doing is trying to meet the needs of your students. But what I would invite you to do is to do some critical reflection and think about, am I honoring their agency? Am I honoring their self-determination? And am I trying to make systems change so that this dynamic does not continue to repeat forever and ever?


VENET: And that change, I know I don’t have a lot of time as a teacher, but can I just do something small to make our voices heard? So be gentle with yourself if you recognize yourself in this conversation and remember, you know, caring for your students is not a bad thing. We just want to be critical about it to really support students in their self-determination.

GONZALEZ: I appreciate that so much because I’m listening to myself now, and I’m not being very gentle on these teachers, because I’m talking to myself. I’m talking to myself as a teacher, and I’m just like, “You jerk. How did you think that?” Blah blah blah, and so it’s — that’s a really, that’s a really helpful way to end. I appreciate that. So one more time, the book is “Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education,” and I’m going to answer the question for you, because I’ve asked you at the end of all three of these where people can find you online. It’s, correct?


GONZALEZ: And that is your website where people can find, you know, links to all of your other social pages and everything else.

VENET: Yes, absolutely.

GONZALEZ: Alex, thank you so much for giving so much time. And the fact that we’ve talked about, you know, like an hour and a half or more about the book, we still haven’t touched on nearly everything in the book. And so anybody who’s listened to all three of these and is thinking, “Yeah, I pretty much got it.” You don’t. There’s still so much more in this book, and so I would urge people to go and get it and read it. I want to read it a second time now because it’s a lot. It’s a lot to absorb, and I think you’re doing really good work. So thank you so much.

VENET: Thank you! This has been great.

GONZALEZ: For links to Alex’s book or to read a full transcript of this conversation, visit, click Podcast, and choose episode 218. To get a bimonthly email from me about my newest blog posts, podcast episodes, courses and products, sign up for my mailing list at Thanks so much for listening, and have a great day.