So what do you do with trauma-informed teaching and learning principles? What do they look like in practice? How do we operationalize them? These are common questions I hear from educators who are interested in becoming more trauma-informed. The principles sound great in theory, but they don’t tell us what to do.
The good news, and the bad news, is that there is no one right way to be trauma-informed. The extent to which teaching policies and practices are trauma-informed is something that educators must evaluate both individually and collectively. Context matters. Experience matters. Resources matter.
It’s certainly possible to provide concrete examples, such as the Examples of TITL in College Classrooms handout on the Resources page (I’ve also just added a color version!). It can also be very helpful to collaborate with others to help learn how to apply the principles to our own practice. When I give trainings, I use norming activities to help educators understand and apply TITL principles.
One norming activity I developed (see TITL Teaching Practices Norming Activity) asks educators to evaluate examples of common teaching practices for their congruency with a trauma-informed approach to teaching and learning. Certainly one could add or substitute teaching policies and practices they found to be more timely or relevant.
Another norming activity I developed (see TITL Student Feedback Norming Activity) uses example of student feedback to help educators understand the extent to which students perceive their teaching and their courses as trauma-informed. This activity uses educator-generated examples, but one could also add examples they encounter frequently.
Both activities are structured similarly. And both activities also invite educators to evaluate congruency with educator authority styles. I will be writing more about complex trauma, authority styles, and their relationship to trauma-informed teaching in the near future. But for now, I will simply reiterate that trauma-informed approaches are largely about how we share power with rather than (unintentionally or unknowingly) wield it in ways that are perceived as harmful to others. Most of us are familiar with the authority styles in the handouts, which is why I chose them. Hopefully those of you who are already integrating information about attachment or authority styles in your trainings will find these resources helpful.
On the Resources page you will find pdf versions of both activities in both color and black and white.
As always, comments, questions, and suggestions are always most welcome.
8.26.20: The norming tools are currently undergoing revisions. I will post again when they are updated.