Benefits & Research

Benefits of TOOLBOX are:


  • The Tools empower the individual child — helping them to be present for the task of learning and less distracted by their emotions or social context. They are able to calm themselves and give their attention or advocate for their needs.
  • TOOLBOX helps teachers keep students’ focus on learning — by inquiring what Tool a child or class could use, the teacher allows the students to self-manage.
  • TOOLBOX is easy to implement in the classroom — it takes little class time to introduce; children catch on quickly; the shared language and gestures provide for efficient class communication around behavioral and interpersonal issues.
  • Implemented throughout a school, TOOLBOX supports the creation of a strong learning community — with values of mutual respect and empathy.
  • TOOLBOX Home Connection letters and Parent Workshop bring parents and caregivers into the partnership — providing a common language that can be used at home to align the child’s experience.

Research: The Impact of TOOLBOX

Funded by the San Francisco-based, Stuart Foundation, Dovetail Learning began a research partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, School of Social Welfare in 2014 to study different types of TOOLBOX implementation. San Lorenzo Unified and Berkeley Unified, both in Northern California, are our district partners. This important research is being conducted to help Dovetail Learning continue to improve TOOLBOX implementation and to prepare for a randomized control trial. Contact us here for more details.

In 2010, Dovetail Learning partnered with WestEd, a leading educational research and development organization, also funded by Stuart Foundation. The project encompassed curriculum development, implementation of the revised K-3 materials in the Wright School District in Santa Rosa, California, and a pre-post assessment of the impact of TOOLBOX on students, school staff, and parents/guardians. The assessment measured changes in resiliency skills and assets; improved school climate and connectedness for children, teachers, and staff; improved links between school and home; and the effectiveness of using TOOLBOX as part of a parenting program. The research report is an affirmation that TOOLBOX supports positive child development. Download a copy of the Dovetail Learning – WestEd Research brief or, to receive a copy of the full research report, please contact us.

Teacher Empathy Reduces Student Suspensions

Recent Stanford research findings show that:

  • giving teachers an opportunity to use their “Empathy Tool” improved student-teacher relationships and helped reduce discipline outcomes.
  • students whose teachers completed an empathic mindset exercise were half as likely to get suspended over the school year, from 9.6 percent to 4.8 percent.
  • when a teacher took an empathic approach, students felt more respected and, in turn, were more motivated to behave well in class in the future.

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