I have been a college educator for 16+ years, and I observed early in my career that the students who were most likely to drop out, get bad grades, and have trouble adapting to college were those who had a trauma history or who experienced a traumatic event during their time in school. I wanted to be able to do something to help such students succeed in college, so I went back to school myself and earned a master’s in social work (MSW) and a PhD in social welfare. My research and advocacy focus on retraumatization in educational settings and on bringing a trauma-informed approach to higher education.
Trauma-Informed Teaching and Learning (TITL) is an umbrella term I coined to refer to a trauma-informed approach to college curriculum delivery. For those who are unfamiliar, to be trauma-informed in any context means to understand the role that violence and victimization have played in the lives of many individuals and to use that understanding to improve policies and practices in order to accommodate the needs of trauma survivors. To effectively implement a trauma-informed approach in higher education, everyone involved in the system would ideally need to be involved in the change effort, including students, faculty, staff, administration, board members, and local and state lawmakers. But, by becoming trauma-informed, individual educators can develop knowledge and skills to transform not only their own physical and virtual classroom environments but also the systems in which they teach.
The purpose of this blog is to create a space to share thoughts, questions, suggestions, links, research, and resources related to trauma-informed teaching and learning. Hopefully I won’t do all of the talking and posting. I find that most educators are already doing many things that are congruent with a trauma-informed approach, since trauma-informed principles and strategies share much in common with universal design and with learner centered teaching, so I am very much looking forward to hearing from and collaborating with others.
–Janice Carello, PhD, LMSW