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Trauma-Informed Pedagogy Resources: General


Avery, J. C., Morris, H., Galvin, E., Misso, M., Savaglio, M., & Skouteris, H. (2021). Systematic review of school-wide trauma-informed approaches. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 14(3), 381–397.

Extensive research on traumatic life experiences reveals how healthy development can be derailed and brain architecture altered by excessive or prolonged activation of the body's stress response, impacting health, mental health, learning, behavior and relationships. Schools offer a unique environment to prevent and counter the impacts of childhood trauma. This study aimed to investigate empirical evidence for school-wide trauma-informed approaches that met at least two of the three essential elements of trauma-informed systems defined by SAMSHA (2014). SAMHSA's concept of trauma and guidance for a trauma-informed approach. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4884. Rockville: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. and consider commonalities in approaches, drivers of change, challenges and learnings related to implementation, sustainability and outcomes for students. A systematic review searching foremost databases was conducted for evidence of trauma-informed school-wide approaches used between 2008 and 2019. Four papers were identified, incorporating four school-wide approaches, The Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in Schools (HEARTS) Model; The Heart of Teaching and Learning (HTL): Compassion, Resiliency, and Academic Success Model; The New Haven Trauma Coalition (NHTC) and The Trust-Based Relational Intervention. Although heterogeneous, the models shared core elements of trauma-informed staff training, organization-level changes and practice change, with most models utilizing student trauma-screening. Generalizability of the findings was low given the small number of studies, the mix of mainstream and specialist schools and high risk of bias. Given the limitations of research in this emergent but rapidly accelerating field, future research is urgently required to understand the interaction between core elements of a trauma-informed approach, teaching pedagogy and organizational factors that support the embedding, use and transferability of school-wide approaches.

Brunzell, T., Stokes, H., & Waters, L. (2019). Shifting teacher practice in trauma-affected classrooms: Practice pedagogy strategies within a trauma-informed positive education model. School Mental Health: A Multidisciplinary Research and Practice Journal, 11(3), 600–614.

This study explored how primary and secondary school teachers changed their practice pedagogy as they underwent training in trauma-informed positive education (Brunzell et al., Contemp School Psychol 20:63–83, 2016b. ). TIPE integrates teaching strategies from two practice paradigms: trauma-informed education and positive education in order to educate vulnerable students who struggle in school due to trauma histories from abuse, neglect and/or violence. Over the course of 1 year, teachers (N = 18) co-designed and/or adapted TIPE through an iterative procedure of appreciative inquiry participatory action research. The aim was to strengthen teacher capacities in order to assist their students to overcome classroom-based adversity and to bolster their learning. This study privileged teachers’ phenomenological experience of TIPE by investigating the experiential aspects of planning for and implementing curriculum and classroom management. Two emergent themes were found in the qualitative data: (1) increasing relational capacity and (2) increasing psychological resources. These results were analyzed through contemporary frames of teacher practice, which revision the purpose of teacher practice as a set of practice challenges to better assist teachers in educating their vulnerable student cohorts. 

Carello, J., & Butler, L. D. (2014). Potentially perilous pedagogies: Teaching trauma is not the same as trauma-informed teaching. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 15(2), 153–168.

This article explores why and how trauma theory and research are currently used in higher education in nonclinical courses such as literature, women's studies, film, education, anthropology, cultural studies, composition, and creative writing. In these contexts, traumatic material is presented not only indirectly in the form of texts and films that depict traumatic events but also directly in the form of what is most commonly referred to in nonclinical disciplines as trauma studies, cultural trauma studies, and critical trauma studies. Within these areas of study, some instructors promote potentially risky pedagogical practices involving trauma exposure or disclosure despite indications that these may be having deleterious effects. After examining the published rationales for such methods, we argue that given the high rates of trauma histories (66%–85%), posttraumatic stress disorder (9%–12%), and other past event–related distress among college students, student risk of re-traumatization and secondary traumatization should be decreased rather than increased. To this end, we propose that a trauma-informed approach to pedagogy—one that recognizes these risks and prioritizes student emotional safety in learning—is essential, particularly in classes in which trauma theories or traumatic experiences are taught or disclosed. 

Cless JD, Goff BSN. (2017).  Teaching trauma: a model for introducing traumatic materials in the classroom. Advances in Social Work; 18(1): 25-38 

University courses in disciplines such as social work, family studies, humanities, and other areas often use classroom materials that contain traumatic material (Barlow & Becker-Blease, 2012). While many recommendations based on trauma theory exist for instructors at the university level, these are often made in the context of clinical training programs, rather than at the undergraduate level across disciplines. Furthermore, no organized model exists to aid instructors in developing a trauma-informed pedagogy for teaching courses on traumatic stress, violence, and other topics that may pose a risk for secondary traumatic stress in the classroom (Kostouros, 2008). This paper seeks to bridge the gap between trauma theory and implementation of sensitive content in classrooms of higher education, and presents a model of trauma-informed teaching that was developed in the context of an undergraduate trauma studies program. Implications and future directions for research in the area of trauma-informed university classrooms are discussed.

Gorski, P. (2020). How Trauma-Informed Are We, Really? Educational Leadership, v78 n2 p14-19 

To fully support students, schools must attend to the trauma that occurs within their own institutional cultures. Equity advocate Paul Gorski describes three transformative commitments schools can make to maximize the potential of trauma-informed education.

Pate, C. Strategies for Trauma-Informed Distance Learning 

The challenges of recognizing and responding to students' social, emotional, and mental health needs are compounded in a distance learning environment. To help educators use trauma-informed teaching practices in distance learning contexts, these brief offers strategies, with specific examples, for recognizing and responding to students' social and emotional needs while teaching remotely. The strategies are organized using neuroscientist Bruce Perry's "3 Rs" approach to intervention: Regulate, Relate, and Reason. Using the strategies in this brief to address students' social and emotional needs for regulation and relationships can help educators ensure that their students are ready to reason and continue to thrive, even from a distance. [This brief was prepared by the Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety at WestEd.