[WDYL] Trauma-Informed Pedagogy

This week I learned that I need to dive deeper into what trauma-informed pedagogy looks like.

Last week was originally slated to be our Spring Break in NYC, but, of course, COVID-19 has completely changed the course of what is expected of us as educators in one of the hardest-hit cities in the world. Of course, as teachers, part of our key role now is keeping students engaged during what was formerly break time. There are many reasons for this, I’m sure, but I posit that the two most important reasons are as follows:

  1. Students need to stay inside. Extended time off discourages this.
  2. Students need something to keep them busy. See above.

Ultimately, what I’ve found most difficult has been understanding what education needs to be in the middle of a worldwide crisis – one that has personally impacted my students, my coworkers, my admin, my friends. What kinds of traumas are being created and how do we address these in a way that is productive, emotionally resonant, ethical, and humane?

For example, as a teacher, I’ve really struggled with grading all year. I continually find the act of grading to be an act of violence, an act key to the perpetuation of the banking model of education. Of course, I’ve done research on grading, thought about what model of grading best fits my theories about the purpose of education, and toyed with different models’ strengths and weaknesses. But now, in the light of a real-world crisis, I have entirely new questions about grading, inspired by the questions I’ve had in the past: what is the purpose of grading? Is grading humane? What aspects of grading are useful and what aspects are destructive? In a crisis, is it equitable to grade students at all? To what does grading contribute to the trauma created by this pandemic? To what extent does it help students retain normalcy? Is normalcy something we want to retain?

My goal this week is to complete some basic research about trauma and addressing trauma in developmentally-appropriate ways, implementing this into my curriculum planning for the (about) six weeks that are left in the year.