As teachers prepare to head back to school this year, it is valuable to prepare for the level of trauma that individual teachers may be called upon to hold. The Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center indicates that trauma “results from exposure to an incident or series of events that are emotionally disturbing or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being.” From the economic strain and complex traumas induced by the COVID-19 pandemic to those resulting from racist violence, students and teachers are returning to the classroom with a heavy emotional load. With all that educators will be asked help students face, it is a great time to cultivate a strong foundation of social-emotional learning (SEL) and trauma-informed teaching methodology.
“This framework is centered on compassion and care, fierce commitment to viewing students as knowledgeable and capable, and viewing the invitation to bring life experiences into school as integral to day-to-day teaching and learning.” —Dr. Elizabeth Dutro
In a recent interview, I spoke with Dr. Elizabeth Dutro and Alex Shevrin Venet concerning the need for trauma-informed teaching in these times. Dr. Dutro is a professor and chair of the Literacy Studies program at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. There, she draws on past classroom experience and her extensive research to design pedagogies that make space for difficult experiences to be honored as knowledge in schools. Her publications include her book The Vulnerable Heart of Literacy: Centering Trauma as Powerful Pedagogy. Venet is a Vermont-based, industry-leading trainer, educator, and writer helping educators implement trauma-informed practices across the country. Her first book, Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education, is forthcoming from W. W. Norton in spring 2021.