In today's ever-changing world, "Trauma Informed Pedagogy" is an invaluable resource for educators. It offers critical advice on how to handle difficult conversations about current crises and sensitive topics. It helps instructors create safe and supportive classroom environments by suggesting activities and prompting reflection. Given the current state of the world, sections on content warnings, mental health resources, and fostering mutual accountability are especially important.
The resources below are provided to help educators support students during these difficult times.
Trauma Informed Pedagogy
The Trauma Informed Pedagogy infographic offers several helpful suggestions for ways to frame and revisit difficult conversations for instructors who plan to assign materials related to ongoing crises and/or potentially emotional topics. The resource is rich with suggested activities, questions, and reflection prompts that instructors can implement in real time in the classroom. In particular, the following sections may be especially relevant at this moment:
- Page. 2 - Recommendations for content warnings and ways to create and protect spaces for cognitive relief in classrooms.
- Page. 3 - Discussions of the importance of providing direct links to campus resources, especially those related to mental health.
- Page. 5 - Ways to revisit difficult conversations and/or check-in and apologize if students provide feedback that the way an instructor introduced a topic was inadvertently traumatizing. This is a key component of care, growth, and mutual accountability.
UT Counseling and Mental Health Center
CMHC offers a range of services, including individual counseling, group therapy, and crisis intervention. Their website also provides resources and information on various mental health topics.
- Here is the direct webpage for free one-on-one short-term counseling in case students want to sign up for an individual session after a emotional experience in class and/or in local, national, or global spaces: https://cmhc.utexas.edu/individualcounseling.html.
- Here is the direct webpage for identity-based or experience-based support groups: https://cmhc.utexas.edu/groups.html.
- "The Ups and Downs of International Student Life" Drop-in Group is one support group that may be especially relevant for some members of our community right now. Because this is a drop-in group, students are free to come and go as they please; there is no long-term commitment. This could be an important space for individuals who are directly affected by the ongoing Hamas-Israel conflict and/or whose loved ones are directly affected.
What to Say: Strategies for Supporting our Students" (Makena Neal)
This article discusses specific strategies for engaging students during or immediately after a crisis. Some of the surveys and resources linked in this entry can be requested by instructors via Google. The first section, "First Class: Normalize Feelings," is especially helpful because it includes examples of responses instructors may have to students' varied and valid emotions, which instructors can adapt to use authentically in their own classroom.
Adopting trauma-informed pedagogy is a critical step toward empowering both educators and students in a world where compassion and understanding are paramount. Keep an eye out for insights and practical advice on how to navigate this transformative approach in your teaching journey.