In our previous blog post, we explored strategies for implementing trauma-informed pedagogy in the classroom, focusing on its six core principles. In this final post of our ethics of care series, we offer resources to help you apply trauma-informed pedagogy effectively.
Models and approaches to design
Educators are ideally positioned to implement trauma-informed pedagogy in the classroom, having a wealth of resources at their disposal, including those featured below. Let’s continue our journey towards creating more inclusive and supportive environments for all students, beginning with some models and approaches for designing learning.
Trauma-Informed ADDIE Model
Looking at the initial stages of course design, the Trauma-Informed ADDIE (TI-ADDIE) model weaves trauma-informed principles into instructional design. Responding to our current educational landscape, its goal is to create a caring, resilient learning environment attuned to students affected by trauma.
The trauma-informed checklist from Gunderson et al. (2023) can be implemented at all stages of the course experience, from course design to materials and policies. The checklist requires ongoing refinement to cater to diverse learner needs and is rooted in evidence-based instructional design principles to benefit all students.
Universal Design for Trauma
Nikischer’s Universal Design for Trauma (UDT) introduces five essential components: strategic content planning, trigger and content warnings, alternative readings and assignments, campus and community resources, and educator protections. Designed to address trauma history, UDT enriches the learning experience for all students, encouraging educators to rethink classroom inclusivity.
Considerations for a trauma-informed classroom
Barriers to implementing trauma-informed pedagogy include limited understanding, resources, and administrative support, as well as resistance to change and systemic issues. Overcoming these barriers requires a collective effort to create a supportive environment that prioritises student wellbeing and academic success.
Below are further practical resources for educators to consider when implementing trauma-informed pedagogy practices in their classrooms.
Checklists and toolkits
- Neuroscientist and educator Dr. Mays Imad offers 13 actionable suggestions for faculty to incorporate into course planning. Her work emphasises the role of educators in supporting mental health and the importance of cultivating empowering relationships in educational settings.
- Karen Costa’s Trauma-Aware Teaching Checklist has been prepared for educators as a tool to reflect on their teaching and courses, regardless of modality. The six principles of trauma-informed care developed by SAMHSA are a foundational concept in the trauma field.
- Thompson & Carello (2022) Trauma-Informed Teaching Toolbox offers tools for educators to align actions with trauma-informed principles and foster a trauma-sensitive environment. Notable tools include: Self-Assessment for Creating Trauma-Informed Learning Environments, first-of-class introductions, “no questions asked” late work policy, revise and resubmit policy and trigger warnings.
Learning design, teaching, & assessment
- Cook-Sather & Van Nguyen (2023) explore trauma-informed instructional design using shared Google Docs. It emphasises empathy, trustworthiness, and offers practical recommendations for educators.
- Turcotte et al. (2023) examine the psychological and educational benefits of ungrading in graduate courses, revealing that it reduces stress, fosters collective reflection, and promotes a growth mindset in students.
- Waterfall and Button (2022) outlines trauma-informed practices in Indigenous adult education, emphasising learning, unlearning, deep listening, and relationship-based learning to create safer, transformative spaces for Indigenous adult learners.
- The chapter Inclusive Day-to-Day Teaching in The Norton Guide to Equity-Minded Teaching emphasises the importance of everyday teaching practices in fostering equity.
Survive and thrive: educator self-care
Educators play a pivotal role in supporting students, and it’s just as important for them to prioritise their own wellbeing. We wrap up by looking at the challenges educators face and the resources available.
Understanding secondary trauma
Navigating conversations with students who are distressed or disclose trauma can be particularly challenging. One overlooked aspect of educator wellbeing is the risk of secondary or vicarious trauma. This emotional stress arises from empathetic engagement with students who have lived experience of trauma, leading to compassion fatigue. Not only is this harmful to educators, but it also compromises their ability to support students effectively.
Roles and responsibilities of educators
Educators are not counsellors, but they do have a duty to support learning and help students find strategies to manage the effects of mental health on their studies. Consider how you can:
- Be clear about what support you can and cannot offer.
- Guide students toward appropriate support services when necessary, such as UTS Student Counselling. The Counselling Referral Grid is a useful guide to help recognise when and how to seek advice when assessing and responding to distressed students.
- Attend Mental health training to gain knowledge and skills to help you recognise these signs for support.
Wellbeing resources for educators at UTS include:
- UTS Mental Health and Wellbeing Support: general mental health resources and support.
- Wellbeing resources for Academic staff
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP): free, confidential counselling services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Embarking on the journey to become a trauma-informed educator often begins with nurturing meaningful student relationships. It’s essential to address common misconceptions about trauma-informed behaviour and acknowledge that trauma isn’t just a result of specific life events; it can also arise from experiences of humiliation and shaming within educational settings.
Embracing a trauma-informed approach might require us to re-evaluate and adjust our teaching methods and perceptions of students who have experienced trauma. This shift isn’t just about enhancing individual student experiences; it’s also about influencing broader societal norms and values in a positive way.
As this blog post series draws to a close, I hope it has offered insights and practical tools for those interested in exploring trauma-informed practices in the classroom. By integrating these principles and tools, we have the opportunity to foster a more inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students.