Spring 2021 Dialogue

Welcome to our current dialogue.

We ask that you post an initial response to one or more of these questions from March 8th-12th. Then, please respond to at least two posts to generate dialogues across contexts and experience. The dialogue period will be from March 8th-26th.

Recommended readings

Dutro, E. (2017). Let’s start with heartbreak: The perilous potential of trauma in literacy. Language Arts94(5), 326.

Golden, N. (2020). The Importance of Narrative: Moving Towards Sociocultural Understandings of Trauma-Informed Praxis. Occasional Paper Series2020(43), 7.

Jones, S., & Spector, K. (2017). Becoming unstuck: Racism and misogyny as traumas diffused in the ordinary. Language Arts94(5), 302.

Simmons, D. (2020). If we aren’t addressing racism, we aren’t addressing trauma. ASCD In-Service.

Simmons, D. (2020). Confronting inequality/The Trauma we don’t see. ASCD In-Service.

Suggested Dialogue Questions

  • How did the authors define trauma? What did you learn about trauma-informed teaching practices in literacy classrooms and/or in schools? 

  • What is the intersection between trauma informed instruction and anti-racism?  In what ways does using trauma informed instruction help us to create anti-racist educational spaces for our students? 

  • What connections did you make to the articles, as a teacher and/or student? What questions do you have?

You are invited to respond to one or more of these questions. (To post, please log in using a Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress account.) Please feel free to share experiences, dilemmas, questions, or information about particular contexts of teaching and learning (e.g., where you student teach, teach, study, or participant observe) as you explore intersections between trauma-informed teaching and anti-racist teaching. You may also feel free to recommend or cite texts (e.g., articles, books, films) that may be of interest to others on a thread.

 

147 Comments

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  1. Hello everyone! My name is Erny Juarez and I am enrolled in the Single Subject Credential Program at CSU: Long Beach for my Physics credential! Throughout the articles I have read, trauma is defined as the traditional definition of large-scale, collectively felt events to small, personal experiences of loss, oppression and violence. PTSD, anxiety, depression and behavior problems typically following afterwards. However, many of the authors have attempted to switch this mindset from a biomedical process to the larger ecological framings of trauma. Where the cultural and socio-historical context of the individual contributes to the re-traumatizing and continuation of gaps in social systems largely experienced by minorities. As such, the biomedical approach to trauma-informed teaching practices have sought to encourage behavior management systems. These typically incorporate strategies that reduce any “fight or flight” responses which include speaking to students in a non-threatening manner. Also the use of predictable routines for students to engage in. All of which just seem patronizing and view the students as incapable of ever learning how to regulate emotions or reflect on their own experiences or trauma for authentic healing.

    The traditional models of trauma-informed teaching practices are what I saw most in my time at high school. Where the “problem students” were quick to be suspended rather than understanding and empathizing why they did what they did. True socio-emotional learning needs to emphasize the reflection of one’s self in the larger context of their own positionalities. As a future educator, I hope to be the bridge for students to see themselves or their mistakes as an effect of the uncontrollable social systems going against them. To not view themselves as just another statistic but as an individual whose life experiences and the informed decisions influence their own destiny.

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    • I agree with you on the “problem students” because most of the time teachers just don’t want to take the time or feel like they don’t have the time. As teachers it is our responsibility to our students to understand and work with them for the betterment of themselves. I am not going to act like I have never said one of my children were a “problem child”, but I did try to understand and talk it our but there is only so much you can say to a 2 year old about pushing. During my semester so far I have learned there is no such thing as a bad student, but bad teachers who cannot cope with that student. I really like your viewpoint on seeing them as individuals not just a random student in your class this year.

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      • I love your thought @reneedhedden that “there is no such thing as a bad student, but bad teachers who cannot cope with that student.” I think that that is so important and too true. There is no excuse for teachers to be rude to their students exclusively because we may not be very well equipped to understand students who are different from ourselves. It is our job to find the resources that can best help our students and always focus on loving them rather than just dealing with them. We need to be people who help children with their trauma rather than contribute to their traumatic experiences.

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        • Marylin,

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think it’s totally OK that your life experiences are dissimilar to that of your students. The reality is that we all have different lived experiences. Some people have experienced trauma in their lives, and some people have not. Some people have experienced a disproportionate amount of trauma in a short period of time. Even if two people experience the same traumatic event, their experiences will differ simply because each person responds to that trauma differently. I think the most important part of supporting our students is to listen to their experiences and create a space where those experiences can be incorporated into curricular activities. This can be done privately, like offering a prompt for a low-stakes free-write in a journal that will not be collected. If students want to share their experiences with the class, we should first establish a community of care in order to best support our students as they open up and express themselves.

          Best,

          Nicole

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    • This has got to be the most text book example of a response. I think that this was well done sir, and I salute you for your determination to understand the children who need help rather than just being suspended.

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    • At my school they were always quick to label students as problem students. Suspensions are detrimental to students in every way possible and I feel like do not help solve the problem. Rather than trying to see where the student is coming from we just bar them from coming to school and in return they get behind. Some students never get out of this cycle and never get to take advantage of their learning. You hit the nail on the head by saying we need to help students see themselves as more than just a statistic. The choices they make now will absolutely have an influence on their destiny. Helping students understand that they have meaning and so much to accomplish in life will help instill confidence to our students. I love your post!

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  2. Dutro (2017)’s “work on trauma and how it functions in classrooms draws on ideas from humanities scholarship in trauma studies, an area of research that focuses on representations of physical and emotional pain in art, literature, the media, or other accounts of individual and collective human suffering” (p. 327). She is careful not to explicitly define trauma. Instead, she turns to asking questions about the consequences of difficult life experiences manifest in classrooms and the pedagogies these consequences call for. This allows for trauma to be seen as something that manifests itself in an individual basis and gives students the power to define or communicate their trauma on their own terms.

    Golden (2020) touches on this idea, “[f]or these young scholars, “trauma-informed” is synonymous with a humanizing pedagogy, one in which they are not automatically assumed to be “bad kids.” Within this ethos, young people can define themselves and make mistakes without their errors being seen as entrenched dispositions or commentaries on their possible life trajectories. It is a pedagogy grounded in relationships in which they are known as promising young people who have been through difficult circumstances or experiences” (p.76). I truly believe that the pedagogy that is called for in classrooms where educators wish to be trauma-informed starts with humanizing their classrooms, allowing students to talk about their life experiences as funds of knowledge and letting them see their mistakes as learning/growth opportunities instead of deficit oriented moments.

    These articles shed a light on the complexities of trauma and the steps needed to promote and sustain, respectful and successful trauma-infromed pedagogies.

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    • I like that you mention how the authors do not define explicitly what trauma is. Trauma can look different to each individual and by allowing students to discover how they want to communicate their trauma we are giving them power over their situation. This will allow the student to build a trusting relationship with their teacher. Overall, love the comments you made and how they relate to how teachers can restructure their pedagogies to include how to understand students trauma.

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    • Dutro’s decision to not define trauma in specific terms can be helpful to students since leaving its definition open-ended can keep them from deliberating on whether their own experiences count as trauma. One thing that many students are told when they try to express themselves is that someone else always has it worse. This silences many and leads them to the false conclusion that their experiences are not harmful or are invalid. By asking questions we can get our students to, as you mentioned, define their trauma themselves in a space where they are safe and validated. Doing so ties into social and emotional learning by having students practice self-awareness as they define their challenges as well as what hurts them.

      Dr. Golden expands upon the idea of defining trauma by stating that students can define themselves freely. This ties into the humanization aspect you mentioned which would allow for both a trauma-informed and culturally responsive classroom. My concern with letting students speak freely in the classroom is how to get my students on board with sharing their experiences and being respectful of one another. I fear that having class discussions based around sharing life experiences, particularly challenging ones, can devolve into a situation where students invalidate each other’s experiences.

      Thank you for your post!

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  3. Hello, my name is Cristina Carrillo and I am a currently enrolled in the Single Subject Teaching Credential Program for World Languages at California State University, Long Beach. I read both articles by Dena Simmons and found the articles not only informative but I found myself making connections to my own experiences. After reading the article “If we Aren’t Addressing Racism, We Aren’t Addressing Trauma” Simmons discusses how trauma can affect students in the classroom and as a future educator, I see the importance of not only being anti-racist but how I must be actively anti-racist and work toward helping shape a more equitable society. It is important to create a space in the classroom where we are able to openly talk about the issues of race and racial injustices. As Simmons states, we as educators “can’t be passive” and simply ignore these issues as our students are affected by them and need to be able to express themselves in a safe environment. I will work to create lessons that welcome and encourage dialogue because we need to be able to listen to one another in order for real change to occur.

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    • Hi Christina, thanks for sharing!
      That quote of Simmons’ really stood out to me too. I loved that it made you start to think about creating a safe space for people to not only talk about inequity but also address it. We can’t let this remain a taboo topic, because we need to educate each other and can only do so if we are willing to not only talk but listen.

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    • Hi Cristina! I completely agree with your points. Creating that safe space in the classroom will open so many doors — students will be more willing to talk about these topics, share their experiences, and connect with one another. If we do not provide the space and comfort, when will our students ever feel safe to speak their opinions in schools? Since we are the educators, we must be clear about what is expected and what is/what is not accepted. These guidelines and “classroom norms” should be put into place day one so students know that our classrooms are anti-racist and that everyone will support one another. Creating lessons that are centered around these topics will continue to show students how relevant and crucial these injustices are today and throughout history. Real change can occur in the classroom, and we as educators must facilitate these conversations and ensure that all of our students feel safe and comfortable to share their experiences and thoughts.

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  4. Hello, my name is Marissa. I am currently enrolled in the single-subject teaching credential program for physical education at Cal State Long Beach. As a biracial future teacher, exposing the interplay of racism and trauma and its effects on students in the classroom is important to me. Simmon’s article really stood out to me when she explored the idea that teachers must confront racism and the trauma caused by it if we care about the future of the next generation. We can no longer ignore racism. She states in her article, “When Black students experience a world that devalues their humanity—including through curricular content that perpetuates narratives of inferiority and excludes their lives and full histories—and when they witness people who look like them being beaten or slain in the media, they are subject to the trauma of being made to feel worthless and unseen, of being made inhuman.” Young black children face mental health consequences every time images and videos of police brutality against black people are shown on TV or social media, especially when they see no changes occurring. There is an emotional and psychological toll that witnessing racism every day takes on people of color. It is a reminder that we are not seen or valued on a daily basis.

    Conversations and education are powerful tools for change. Simmons writes in her article, “As we engage in racially just pedagogy, it is important that we do not retraumatize students by showing pictures or videos of police- or vigilante-related violence against Black people. Instead, focus on teaching students how to identify and analyze racial bias in media and provide ways for them to reach out to media outlets with their findings to advocate for fuller stories. Empower students to disrupt single narratives of Blackness.” Starting with a conversation about students ‘ lived experiences is the first step towards awareness and change. One of the most constructive things we can do as educators is to encourage conversations and how to take emotions caused by racial trauma and demand social change.

    As a person of color, I want my students to feel heard and valued. Embracing anti-racist teaching means recognizing, acknowledging, and responding to racial trauma. I want to support my students by getting to know them individually and providing a physical and emotional space for them to improve their mental health, have conversations about issues that are important to them, and heal from their trauma. I want to do more than just teach my students about racism but educate them on how racism is a lived experience for a lot of students. I can relate to the feeling of being “other” and I can share my first-hand perspective, advice, and support to students that may have experienced racial trauma.

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    • Hey Marissa! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I am so thrilled that you’re passionate about this subject. We all should be. I would love to ask your advice on how we can appropriately respond to racial trauma that our students might face. If you know a student is struggling with a racial traumatic issue what are some resources we can direct them to, or resources that we can use to educate ourselves so that we might be the best resource for these students. I think a conversation is a great place to begin, but if it should need to go deeper I want to be able to be of use. If you have any advice I would love to hear it. Thanks again for sharing your voice.

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    • Hi Marissa!
      I am also a future teacher of color and I share your concerns, so thank you for sharing them on this platform. Students will definitely need their teachers to be that safe space to convey their ideas and concerns, especially in a year where students have been exposed to images of violence, death, and hate at an exponential rate. I had a student ask me, recently, if I had ever been disrespected because of the color of my skin and she is also a student of color. It’s those real-time questions that I know, for myself, that make me wonder, how to address this. I also agree that students need to be heard. No questions that they ask should be dismissed, especially about race and conflict, so I appreciate your stance on “recognizing, acknowledging, and responding to racial trauma.” I honored her question and answered her honestly, that I hoped that person has had time to reflect and had a change of heart about people who are different from themselves. Good luck with your teaching!

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    • Hi Marissa!

      Yes, yes, and yes! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. As a future teacher of color, I also share your concerns. I want my students to feel heard and respected. Racism is a conversation that needs to be brought up in all classrooms, and throughout several years, the conversation has been pushed back or ignored for many reasons.

      Firstly, many teachers are not educated or comfortable discussing racism with their students; however, it needs to be discussed. We need to have an uncomfortable conversation to educate our students and ourselves. Furthermore, students need to feel safe with their teachers to share their concerns, ideas, and fears. Particularly, in the following couple of years, many students have been exposed to death, hate, and violence at such an early age. Therefore, as future teachers of color and white teachers, we need to prioritize these types of conversations because in doing so, we can help many students feel heard while educated many other students in the classroom. Lastly, like you said growing up and being the “other” in the classroom was difficult, especially attending a predominantly white school. Many of my teachers and classmates had preconceptions about me, and the only way to fight those negative stereotypes is by having important and eye-opening conversations.

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  5. Hello everyone, my name is Carolina Gomez and I am enrolled in the single subject teaching credential for Spanish at California State University of Long Beach. After reading the articles, I obtained an entirely different perspective on the real meaning of trauma. The articles address trauma as being related to a person’s life experiences and also as something being caused by external factors that go beyond the “psychological”(Golden,2020). I believe Dr. Golden’s work is eye opening and it made me understand trauma is a result of greater external factors such as environmental and systematic factors(Golden,2020).Trauma informed instruction and anti-racism intersect in the way that they both work to address student experiences outside of school and create networks of support. Utilizing trauma informed instruction can lead educators to provide the proper support for students who may be experiencing trauma.
    Moreover,students of color and Asian American students have experienced many forms of racism that have created trauma, therefore it’s important to create networks of support where these students can heal.Trauma informed instruction can lead educators to listen to their students’ experiences and understand why their students experience trauma as a result of what they have seen and experienced in life. Simmon expresses the importance of talking about race in the classroom and how it’s important to recognize white privilege(Simmon 2020). By talking about topics that many educators try to evade such as racism, students become aware of what is happening around them and they begin to understand how racism and inequalities can create trauma. Lastly, after reading the articles, I’m able to recognize that trauma is something that goes beyond the psychological, and I believe that as educators, it’s our responsibility to help our students heal from the trauma they have experienced.

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    • Hey Carolina,

      Thank you for your definition on Trauma, particularly on the emphasis outside the psychological and into the environment. I think this coincides very well with Jones and Spector’s (2017) lens of Posthumanism, that is, the idea that “the social world becomes folded into our bodies as individuals and as part of a collective bodies” (p. 302). I was having a discussion with a colleague last week about these articles, and my colleague described how trauma is becoming more and more ordinary, and I would agree that racism is a large part of that “ordinary trauma.” I think that, by addressing racism as trauma, we can help students recognize that things do not have to be this way.

      I do have a question, however. How do you envision/define “healing” in regards to trauma/racism?

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    • Hi Carolina! I think it’s really important that you pointed out that environmental and systemic factored traumas are still valid and extremely impactful. Too often I think we overlook these kinds of trauma because they are so largely experienced, and we instead focus on students have experienced more isolated trauma (for lack of a better way to phrase that). While we shouldn’t ignore these students, it’s important to validate and acknowledge racial trauma as just as poignant and important. We have no excuse to overlook those students.

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  6. Hello! My name is Madeline, and I am a student at CSULB working towards a World Languages teaching credential. I feel eternally privileged to be a language educator, because we are constantly building meaningful relationships with students through sharing information about ourselves and our cultures. My entire job is getting students to talk about themselves, and my personal view of my job also includes using the information I gain through listening to my students to inform my teaching so that I can avoid triggers and respond appropriately to student behavior. I work hard to get to know my students, and to incorporate their stories and strengths into every lesson.

    As I read these articles, I was struck by the practices that seem routine to me that other teachers struggled to implement in their own work. I was horrified by the situations presented in Dr. Golden’s article, in which a child was told they were not allowed to deal with a mental health issue during class, or was told that they would be arrested after an altercation without anyone asking to hear what had happened. It is honestly unthinkable to me to treat growing children in such a way, and I suppose I am somewhat naïve to the realities of less-cushy districts than my own.

    The overarching idea that I gleaned from these articles is that as educators, we just need to listen to our students. By inviting them to present their own narratives and asking them to engage in meaningful interactions with one another, we can break down the single-story narratives and give every child their own strong voice. We also need to listen and learn about our students and incorporate them into our lessons wherever possible, so that every child sees themselves represented and celebrated. Dena Simmons’ request that we reflect upon “damage done to our Black students’ psyches when, at school, they are made invisible in academic content and yet blaringly visible through oversurveillance and policing” was a very succinct reminder of how hard educators need to work to ensure that their content is representative of their students, and that said content provides stories of success and happiness, and doesn’t fall victim to the same single-story narratives that have sidelined students for decades.

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  7. Hello Everyone! My name is Emilee and I am currently a student in the Single Subject Teaching Credential Program at California State University Long Beach. I found both pieces by Dena Simmons very powerful. In the article “Confronting Inequity/The Trauma We Don’t See”, Simmons describes her experience of being in a 3rd grader hearing gunshots explode outside her home, and the resulting trauma she has come to realize she has. I found her statement “my trauma manifests in my overachievement”(Simmons, 2020) both shocking and eye-opening. Simmons goes on to explain “Too often, the trauma of high achievers, especially those of color, goes unrecognized because their achievements are sometimes mistaken for resilience”(Simmons, 2020). I think this is very important for educators to understand while constructing racially just pedagogy because some students may have trauma that the educator and/or student may be unaware of. As Simmons (2020) explains, educators need to be careful to not retraumatize students. In order to do so, educators should integrate and center students’ realities in the content, affirming and valuing students and their communities in teaching and putting social justice, equity, liberty, healing, and humanity at the core of our instruction, curriculum, and school policies (Simmons, 2020). As a future educator, I think it is vital to commit to racial justice, even when it is difficult and uncomfortable.

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    • I never knew that overachieving was correlated with trauma, and I agree it was eye-opening. I strive to achieve success in my life although it sometimes takes a toll on my heath. I am a white woman so I feel I don’t completely relate to all of the traumas in the texts, but I have had trauma in my life and reading this makes me realize in my schooling that only one teacher ever truly made a connection with me. I really like your viewpoint and love the “valuing students” because that is how amazing teachers are created, by meeting our students where they are.

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    • Hi Emilee, thank you for sharing. I agree, the articles were definitely eye-opening. Creating and teaching content that includes the student’s real-life experiences is one way to help students heal. Though I have not experienced any racially related trauma in my life, there is trauma that was unseen. Reading these articles helped me realize just how important it is for teachers to really get to know their students and pay attention to their backgrounds. As you mentioned, it is extremely important as a teacher to express racial justice no matter how difficult it might be.

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    • Hi Emilee! It’s important that you pointed out we have the potential to retraumatize students if we are not addressing their original trauma. I also appreciate your point that we need to “center students’ realities in the content.” One of the biggest ways we might retraumatize our students is by ignoring their situations or by teaching from a one-sided and white-narrative curriculum that overlooks or invalidates their experiences. Students need to see and hear about themselves in the content we teach.

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  8. Hi, I’m Shane, another CSULB credential student. I think one of the primary ideas that I’m getting from some of these articles is the importance of locating trauma and responses to it within ecological networks between students, places, and communities. Additionally, I feel like it’s important to avoid, as Dr. Golden mentions the impulse to pathologize trauma in a biomedical sense, both in that this can be counterproductive in actually parsing out root causes and solutions to crisis moments, but in also that it risks taking an over individualized approach to behavior that ignores important socio-cultural aspects of trauma. I’m happy to see an interest in a desire here not to pathologize trauma as a primary approach to students’ crisis moments, because I think that without considering students’ positionalities in relation to their school, community, power, wealth, etc. we mostly are just telling students to rely on their own executive function in a bootstraps-narrative like solution that ignores privilege and systematic disenfranchisement. Furthermore, aside from unhealthy frameworks of ultra-individualism, a failure to look at a student’s positionality within their specific environment, we can miss root causes of interpersonal conflicts and triggering moments. I felt like Jones and Spector’s example of a conflict sparked by a student’s use of the n-word was a good example of this approach. By actually examining the student’s motivations for using the word in relation to their racial, and cultural experiences within their home and community, her instructors were able to getter help her move past use of the word that traditional anti-racist historic etymological instruction hadn’t had luck in illuminating for her. I’m glad that there is work being done to help move us past the highly individualized responsibility for dealing with trauma, as well as an effort to consider students’ ecologies and positionalities when examining how trauma might affect them, or how the educational environment may be dealt with as a traumatic space.

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    • Hi Shane,
      I feel like you and I understood these articles in a similar way, which is mostly that we just need to slow down and listen to our students instead of jumping to conclusions and penalties. As your example illustrates, when teachers take the time to hear students out and help them process and resolve the conflict, our students can learn valuable SEL competencies and leave the situation with better understandings of themselves and the other participants. Students learn nothing when we just toss them out of school or in a detention room, and considering our students as whole humans will help us better address every aspect of running our classrooms.

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  9. From Alan Castro:

    Trauma is the locus of unequal outcomes” (Golden, 2020, p. 71). While reading through these articles, this statement stuck with me as it provides an important perspective while reading the other articles. It implies that trauma is not the result of inequality. Trauma is the result of the many outcomes that come from the many inequalities that marginalized groups face.

    Coming from a family with low income does not cause trauma, but the experiences that come with it may. Having low-income limits where the family can afford to live. The most affordable living tends to be in urban communities with high rates in crime and homelessness. Living in these communities exposes youth to more violence and puts them at risk of using drugs of abuse. These things alone are huge stressors but add other experiences from those that affect everyday life such as hunger from inability to afford 3 meals a day to some of the more horrific experiences that many individuals in these communities encounter.

    I’ve never seen someone die in front of me, or at least I cannot remember it. I was too young to, but I’ve heard a story from my mother about a time when a man was shot and killed on the front steps of the Section 8 apartment we lived in when I was an infant. While I may not remember this, my older sister by 9 years does. Imagine the horror of watching a man die less than 10 feet from your front steps, because that’s what my sister had to witness as a child.

    My sister also experienced great hunger before my mother met my father. My mother told me once a story about a time when my father called my mother’s home phone to talk to her. This was before I was born, so my parents were not living together. My mom told my sister to answer the phone, but she’d quickly regret it because my sister began to tell my dad about how hungry she was. My sister asked my dad if he could bring her cereal, much to my mother’s embarrassment. My mother she snatched the phone from my sister and apologized to my father, who told her to pass the phone back her daughter to ask her what she wanted him to bring them from the store. This is a story that my mom laughs to now whenever she tells it, but the experience has undoubtedly left its mark on both my mother and my sister. They are both better off financial and neither go hungry now, but the memories will never leave them.

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    • I agree that it is not exactly poverty that causes trauma, but all the added hardships. Unfortunately, many teaching professionals or communities in general want to stereotype areas like this as “bad” or “inner city” instead of combating labels and advocating for those that live in the areas. In Simmon’s (2020) article he states that educators should not be passive and we should do everything in our power to help individuals in unfortunate situations. How do you plan on incorporating these ideas into your own classroom?

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    • Hi, Alan,
      I agree with your statement, “Trauma is the result of the many outcomes that come from the many inequalities that marginalized groups face.” I believe that at some point in our lives, we all suffer some trauma, such as the death of a loved one or the unfortunate case of your sister that at some point she went hungry. My mother went through something similar; when she was a child, many days, she only ate a cup of beans and one tortilla; to make it last longer, she would cut the tortilla into several little pieces she will go to sleep hungry. The traumas we experience takes a toll, especially if you have to go to school hungry. As Dr. Goldman states, “Children who do not succeed in school fail as a result of the traumas they have experienced; if educators pay attention to trauma and self-regulation, children will excel and achieve.” As teachers, it is super essential to recognize first our traumas to help and understand our students.

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  10. Hello! My name is Renee Hedden and I am enrolled at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville TN. This is my first semester for my master’s program in teaching K-5th grade. I currently work for a daycare center teaching various ages but am looking forward to teaching in my own classroom.

    The articles describe trauma is related to many different aspects of a child’s life. Not only does it include abuse like most individuals think, but it can also relate to home life, family, living arrangements, and heartbreak. In Let’s Start with Heartbreak, the teacher has a student who suffered the loss of a sibling and writing as well as a baby blanket gave her the comfort she needed (Dutro, 2017). If this teacher was not trauma informed or even had the patients to understand and make that connection with her student, would the results of the interaction be the same? What if that teacher took away the blanket because the student did not need it out at the time? That potentially could have made that student revert to when she lost her sibling originally and traumatized her even more. It could have also been a trigger for her which I believe a teacher will get to understand when they make relationships with their students. When a student has an understanding teacher who has that connection and trust, what the teacher may not realize is they are the only safe individual to the student. Some of our students will come from less-than-ideal backgrounds and school as well as the teachers are their safe space. I believe that Literacy and writing out those feelings are a very good way for students to cope with how they feel in a safe space.

    For example, I lived in an abusive household with my father who was the abuser. I did not feel safe telling any of my friends or any adults. I covered up my emotions with some clubs as well as being a successful student, overachieving, which can result from childhood trauma when one doesn’t want to address it or heal (Simmons, 2020). During this time, I had an English teacher in middle school who at the beginning of her class had a 15-minute writing task in individual student folders where the students could write about anything they wanted. At the end of the day, she would read it and respond so the student could converse privately with her every day. It was at this moment that something clicked for me, and I decided to open to someone about what was happening with me. She never judged and was very understanding toward everything I said so we build a trusting relationship where I finally felt safe. I can connect with both Simmons and Dutro and their explanations because I went through it although not completely due to my race. I feel in a future classroom I would love to implement this same concept into my classroom, so my students feel they have a safe space even if their lives are far from what people classify as “normal”. As a teacher now at a day care I try to make all my children feel welcomed and attempt to make that personal connection, however, right now I work with one and a half to two-year-olds.

    References
    Dutro, E. (2017). Let’s Start with Heartbreak – The Perilous Potential of Trauma in Literacy. Language
    Arts – Research and Policy, 94(5), 326–336.
    Simmons, D. (2020). Confronting Inequity / The Trauma We Don’t See. Educational Leadership, 77(8), 88–89.

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    • Hey Renee Hedden, I’m sorry about what you when through; I also agree teachers need to be sympathetic to their students’ plights. Because giving a small extension as teachers inconvenient, but for a student, it might mean everything. We should try and understand our students and their challenges in education and attempt to reconcile the two. our duties as teachers are to provide students with the best education possible and ensure their academic future.

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    • Hi, Renee!

      Your English teacher sounds like an amazing woman! What a unique and personal way to connect with students! As someone who is also a future educator, it is one of my goals to not let my own feelings of laziness or lack of motivation to get in the way of taking the time to make my students feel known. My subject area is biology so I would love to incorporate a similar assignment during my students’ bell work, even if it is something simple like talking about their interests or simply getting them to write about how they are doing or feeling.

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    • Hi Renee! I’m so sorry to hear about what you went through. I’m glad you had a teacher that showed her care and support, especially during what must have been such a difficult time. I also had a teacher who did something similar; she would often direct us to write for 10-15 minutes about anything that was on our mind, and she was sure to let us know that whatever we wrote was private between ourselves and the teacher. I would like to incorporate something like this in my future classroom as well, as I think it is a great opportunity for students to see that they have another person to lean on and that they can confide in. It is important to show our love and support to our students, as we don’t know what they may be experiencing outside of the classroom. Thank you for sharing.
      -Chandler Durbin

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    • Hey Renee Hedden,

      It is unfortunate on your upbringing but I found you personal experience a powerful example on how educators can help deal with trauma that students go through. It is amazing that you where able to connect with your teacher in helping you go through your personal experience. Just like the SImmon’s reading, educators should build be able to discuss trauma regarding the mental psyche students will experience. Trauma is not just a physical disorder but also the mental aspect regarding how a student sees themselves in society that can cause a negative impact on their lively hood.

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    • Renee,

      Thank you kindly for opening up to the group and sharing your experience. I am so happy you had a teacher who gave you the space to express your personal struggles in a safe and nurturing environment. I really enjoyed the questions you raised as well — specifically about the relationship between the teacher and the student who had lost a sibling. I agree that the blanket holds a lot of meaning to the student. If the teacher had taken it away (not knowing what it symbolized to that student), the student-teacher relationship could be forever altered. Thinking about these ‘what-if’ scenarios makes me realize how every action we take in the classroom has an effect on our students. Your personal experience highlights that fact as well.

      Best,

      Nicole

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    • Hi Renee,

      I’m very glad you met that English teacher everyone deserves to feel safe and I know that thanks to her mentorship, you will provide that same feeling for your students. As teachers, we must balance subject matter and the student’s wellbeing. I really like the idea of a short personal writing assignment. Not only could it be a safe way to connect to the teacher about trauma in their life. It also is a possible therapeutic exercise for the child as well. A big part of trauma is that it can be invisible to onlookers as it is held inside the sufferer. Maybe an assignment like this could help that.

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    • Hi Renee,

      Thank you for sharing your personal story. It is really powerful to read about how you coped with your trauma in addition to how you relate your experiences to your teaching. I think it is really important that we as future educators work to create a safe, comfortable environment for our students. The strategy your teacher employed of a 15-minute free write is a great way to give students the freedom to express themselves, while also being there as a safe person to talk to. I would also like to implement a concept like this one to ensure my students feel welcomed and safe to confide in me if they need to.

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  11. Hello, my name is Lauren Troutman and I am currently enrolled in the Single Subject Teaching Credential Program for American Sign Language at Cal State University, Long Beach. The one article that really stood out to me was “If We Aren’t Addressing Racism, We Aren’t Addressing Trauma” by Dena Simmons. I found this article to be not only very informative by very motivating as well. Dena states, “And what do white children learn from these very same triggering images of Black death and the white-centered curricula that dominate many of our nation’s classrooms? They learn how to un-see and devalue Black lives. They learn how to feel nothing about Black suffering.” (Simmons, 2020). I found this sentence to be very powerful because it perfectly explains the racial issue in the classrooms all over the country. Students are taught all about the suffering and trauma that black people have endured for many years and they highlight the lives of white people. This really opened my eyes and made me realize that the amount of content I have learned over the years about black history has contained more bad images than good and when learning about white history there is only good. I am very glad I have realized these injustices as a teaching student, therefore, in my own classroom I can incorporate curriculum that all students can see themselves in and to create a trauma sensitive space that is safe for everyone. I think it is so important for teachers now more than ever to put in the work to be anti racist and help build a new system in schools that fights racism and highlights diversity.

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    • Renee Hedden,

      I completely agree that the student and teachers interaction would be completely different regards the baby blanket if that teacher was not trauma informed. They would think that they student can cope without it and take it away or believe that they student “does not need it”. The teacher would not be able to understand that the student needs the baby blanket to help her deal with the trauma. As educators, it is important to consider the students experience, trauma, and coping mechanisms. If they want to help the student maybe provide alternative coping strategies. However maintaining that trust and connection with the student is key. It is hard to gain a person’s trust back once broken. I think that the individual student folders is a great way for them to get out any residual issues for the day. It is also a way for the teacher to know if any major problems are going on at home.

      Erica Burke

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  12. Hello! My name is Elena Vucetic and I am in the Single Subject Credential Program at CSULB. My goal is to teach middle school science. These articles did a wonderful job of discussing trauma and trauma-informed teaching practices. As I was reading, I tried to find commonalities and an overarching theme within them. What I came to discover is that they all seemed to define trauma as difficult, painful, heartbreaking, and overwhelming experiences of varying intensities. I loved how Dutro’s article discussed trauma-informed teaching practices by explaining that although the goal is to take the experiences that children bring to school seriously, it is also crucial that we aren’t approaching these practices with the assumption that trauma equates to our youth being “disordered and in need of treatment”. It is of the utmost importance that we shift away from this and shift more toward a practice that focuses on “young people’s experiences and ecologies” (Dutro). Dr. Golden also touches on this same idea and expands on this, claiming how as educators, we must focus on building relationships. Building relationships with our students allows them to trust us so that they can share their stories and experiences with us in a safe, non-judgemental environment. Giving students opportunities to share their narratives is a way for them to heal, and provide themselves with self-care.

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    • Hi Elena. I appreciated your focus on the necessity of removing the perception that trauma inherently means damage and disordered. I did not read this specific article, though I definitely will, and I had not spent much time thinking about this unconscious connection we might make between trauma and damage. Like you said, it is so important to move away from this and towards things like relationship building and safe spaces to express experience. This is a way in which they can heal or a starting point from which they can begin to and continue to heal rather than being seen as beyond our help.

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  13. Hi everyone!
    My name is Yvonne Cosmes and I am studying at CSULB in the single subject credential for music. As I read these articles about trauma it is eye opening to me that we as teachers are not usually well prepared to help our students with some of their problems. Many students will come into the classroom with with past hurts and unresolved trauma. What I have noticed is even if we do not understand the problems our students are facing we can still be there and listen to our students. When we create a caring classroom environment our students will feel comfortable to come up to us and discuss what is heavy on their hearts. Another aspect I think would work well in the classroom is asking the students if they have any triggers they are aware of and let them respond anonymously (via a worksheet or a google form). When we are aware of our students’ problems we can cater our lessons to help them grow and make the content applicable to them. By adding these two elements into the classroom we create a relationship with the students. Dr. Golden mentions this in his article about building relationships with students. Yes, we are there to teach our content, but students should also feel supported and seen in the classroom. This can only happen if we teachers build relationships with our students.

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    • Hey Yvonne! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciated what you said about giving your students chances to respond anonymously. I think that is really interesting because it would be really helpful to know that about your students. However, I wonder what would happen if there were students in the class who didn’t take it seriously. Like how would you approach it if a student like totally made a joke out of it and misused the form?

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      • Hi Emma! To combat students from misusing the form I would have a conversation with students beforehand and explain why the form is being used and should be used seriously. I understand that some students will still misuse the form but I believe the students will take this discussion seriously rather than an opportunity to joke about a serious subject.

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    • I love the idea of being able to submit their thoughts, feelings, needs, or any other means of help they may feel they need to reach out for in an anonymous way. I think this can be great for those too afraid to speak out loud, those who may be afraid of back lash, or those who may have someone in the class that might be the one in which they need help from. There are many reasons to which a person needs to remain anonymous. My question to you though, if you get a report from this method that needs to be reported to the officials’, how do you plan to take care of this? As much as we do not like to think about it, our students can often face situations in which the officials need to be involved. How do you plan to help those who need it, vs those who may jsut need a safe place to vent and let out their fears and feelings?

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      • Hi Lexi thank you for your comment! Regarding students who may need involvement from officials I would report these cases. I would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to the safety of my students. You also mentioned knowing the difference between venting and helping, in California we have to do mandated reporter training for these types of situations, I believe I would know which situations need to be reported to officials and which situations will be the student venting about a situation. However, building relationships with students will also help me decipher if a student is venting about a situation or asking me for help.

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  14. Hi!

    My name is Raine Owens, an undergraduate at Utah State University studying French and English Education. I will be the first to admit that I am very unfamiliar with the concept of trauma, so reading through these articles was very helpful for me. I was particularly impacted by Jones and Spector’s (2017) emphasis on emergent listening, which Davies (2014) describes as “a way of listening through which the ‘not-yet-known might open up'” (p. 303). I understand emergent listening as taking the age old idiom “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes” one step further: we are leaving our pre-conceived notions of the world behind and trying to understand someone else’s perspective. My education so far in college has largely been based on concepts of Culturally Responsive Teaching, mostly emphasizing how we need to create classroom cultures where students feel safe to express themselves. However, I find that I take that concept to mean “I have to create a classroom environment where there is no racism or trauma and where everyone gets along swimmingly;” in other words, my classroom needs to be a utopia, which is frankly a little unrealistic. Jones and Spector inform me that I am not the only one who thinks they can regulate their spheres of influence. They suggest that we engage in “emergent listening with young people in order to learn from and with their ways of resisting racism and misogyny, their improvisational genres of protest and becoming” (p. 310). Listening to our students can teach us how they protest, enabling us to provide places where students can express themselves in ways that promote healing.

    Because I have not started teaching yet, I am curious to see if any of you have experienced situations like Jones and Spector describe (i.e. using emergent listening to allow students to protest and begin the process of healing). What does that look like in your classrooms, schools, learning, etc.?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raine Owens,
      I am in a teaching credential program in California and my class currently is focusing on Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. The concept of understanding students culture from a holistic point of view and trying to implement it into the classroom. My class is focused on bringing the students culture, race, trauma, and life experiences into the classroom for more personable lesson planning. It is important as educators to listen to our students verbally and non-verbally (the ways they protest). We need to help promote healing because sometimes they are not able to get that help at home. Providing our students with a safe learning environment and leave our pre-conceived notions out. I have not done much emergent listening but I do wonder what it would look like in schools as well.

      Erica Burke

      Liked by 1 person

    • Raine Owens,

      I too am pretty unfamiliar with the concept of trauma. I have lived a privileged life with little to no trauma, and have attempted to become more educated in that subject so I can be prepared while in the classroom.

      I also read the article by Jones and Spector, “Becoming unstuck: Racism and misogyny as traumas diffused in the ordinary” and thought it to be both helpful and thought-provoking. The idea of “emergent listening” sounds good, but I also have to wonder what that looks like in the classroom.

      I have worked with middle school students (8th grade) for the past two years, and as you can imagine inappropriate slurs do come up every so often. These insults are usually said out of ignorance and not hate, but either way, it is an uncomfortable situation for all the students in the classroom. And the initial response from both teachers and students is what Jones and Spector call “genre of protest: an outburst, yelling and crying out of the deeply felt frustration and anger against racism and misogyny”. How do I, as a teacher, gain control over a classroom that is loudly protesting that racial slur? Especially when my first reaction is to burst out with “Absolutely not! Go to the office!”. How do I create an environment of emergent listening? I can control my own response, but not my students. I want them to be able to protest their feelings and begin to heal, so how do I turn that into an appropriate classroom conversation that doesn’t alienate any student?

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      • Hey Emily,

        Thank you for your comment. I too have lived a privileged life, and I agree that becoming more educated on the subject will enable us to be more helpful and hopeful in the long run.

        Thank you as well for looking at “emergent listening” a little more critically than I did. I would like to respond to your questions, but I am not entirely sure if my comments will be helpful. Last semester, I took a Classroom Management class which focused a lot on Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, and we read Milner’s (2019) text, “These Kids are out of Control: Why We Must Reimagine ‘Classroom Management’ for Equity.” On the whole, the book discusses and advocates for “Restorative Discipline,” which, as I understand it, attempts to address a problem and restore the offender to his/her community rather than alienate/ostracize the offender. One of the techniques they discussed was a variation of circle time, where everyone gathers in a circle to talk about the problem. Granted, as a teacher, you would have to build a community in which people feel comfortable enough to express their opinion, but it seemed like an option for letting students protest their feelings and discuss why these protests are important.

        If you are unfamiliar with the concept of restorative discipline (and I don’t even know if it would be applicable in your situation), here’s a pretty cool edutopia article I just found on the concept of Restorative Circles: https://www.edutopia.org/article/building-community-restorative-circles

        How would you answer your own questions? I would love to hear your take on it as you have more experience working with middle schoolers than I do!

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    • Hi Raine, while I have not experienced situations like Jones and Spector describe in the K-12 classroom, I have while in higher ed. I currently work at CSULBs office of disability services, and having students in crises and need resources and space is incredibly common, so I can only imagine how common it is in k-12.
      I am interested to know which population this most affects; with respect to age. As we know every individual’s trauma manifests in different ways, and thus I wonder at which age students feel the greatest needs for these services and such.

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    • Hi Raine,

      My name is Manuel Mendoza and I am currently pursuing my teaching credential at CSU Long Beach for single-subject ASL. Currently, my classes have weighed heavily on Culturally responsive teaching and although it does seem perhaps far-fetched to create a utopia in the classroom where all students are equal it’s not entirely unrealistic. Much like you, I have not started teaching but I do currently work in a High School where I push into classes to support students. What I have observed is that teachers are practicing CRT by making sure all students feel equal. I tend to push into the Spanish classes and in these classes, there are many culturally and linguistically diverse students, There are some students who speak Spanish at home, some who don’t and there are those who have English as their second language. As educators, we must give all these students an equal chance to be heard and supported. This means listening to the students and watching out for cues that show any sign that something is off. Working with students that have been affected by trauma simply means that we are paying attention and making sure what we as educators say or do does not bring that trauma to the spotlight for that student. The classroom is a “safe space” for the students and we as educators should be a part of that safe space in which nothing we do surprises the students. We should be a sense of comfort for the students.

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    • Hello Raine,
      Thank you for sharing! I agree that we must be able to listen to our students and create an environment where they can heal. I too have not started teaching so I do not have any personal experience, however when I observed teachers before, I saw that one of the teachers held weekly conferences to discuss with the students privately. The teacher would dedicate an entire class period to talk to each of the students. Not only was the teacher able to discuss grade, but the teacher was able to build relationships with the students. I feel like we can apply this idea to our own classroom to help students with traumatic experiences. While building relationships with our students, we can get to know them better and listen to their trauma to understand how we can help them heal. This is just an idea. Again I have not started teaching, so I cannot say how effective this is, but I can see how it can be used to create a safe space for our students.

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    • Hello Raine,

      I’m Jennifer, I am currently pursuing a Single Subject Credential Program in Health Science at California State University, Long Beach. I appreciate your attempt to understand the concept of trauma and that really is the first step. I understand how you see it difficult to create a classroom where there is no trauma and racism, but it really does not take a lot of classroom time to do this. In one of my classes at long beach, it was observed that a teacher simply took the first 5-10 minutes to engage his students in open discussions on what may be occurring at school or in the outside world. This allows them to share their experiences or thoughts, and we as the teachers would be moderators in the discussions and make sure all of our students are feeling safe. We want to make sure that our classroom is one they will feel accepted and safe in despite what is occurring outside. As stated by Simmons, we cannot be passive educators, and this is one way we can do our part in the classroom.

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      • Hello everyone! My name is Jennifer Garcia and I am currently pursuing a Single Subject Credential Program in Health Science at California State University, Long Beach.

        Reading the articles continues to remind me that it often takes a lot of energy for students to leave their lives outside of the classroom. As defined by Golden, traumas include both large and small personal experiences students go through (Golden, p.71). In the classroom, we see students do their best to focus on the content subjects, but that is not always possible. In my subject, I cover a lot of topics that often can be triggering to students and I believe that as Simmons mention, it is a teachers duty to create a learning environment that doe not traumatize or retraumatize them (Simmons, 2020). In my classroom, I want my students to feel comfortable and show them that I am there to support them. By not being a passive educator and having discussions of what is occurring in the “real” world is important for my student’s mental health and personal safety. Having discussions on movements such as MeToo, LGBTQ+, and Black Lives Matter is important to provide them the space to ask questions and say how they feel about the subjects. These are some topics that bring trauma to students, and if I were to be passive I would be showing my students I do not support them.

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    • Hey Raine!

      I would have to say that I disagree that schools expecting us to have a culturally responsive classroom is their way of expecting us as teachers to eliminate racism and trauma from our student’s lives and experiences. I believe the whole concept of a culturally responsive environment is just as it sounds – be culturally responsive. We should be teaching students basic life skills that can help evolve their thinking and help them become well-rounded individuals. This includes teaching them how to speak, and respect one another. Being culturally responsive does not mean all minds have to think alike, but rather we need to learn to appreciate and understand the world is full of different perspectives and that we are here to learn and collaborate as human beings to help create a more inviting and equal opportunity world.

      Thank you for your post!

      With much respect,

      Jessika Langley

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  15. Hello, my name is Nicole Nesbitt and I am currently a student art educator at California State University Long Beach.

    After reading both articles by Dena Simmons, I found them both to be very powerful and eye-opening. Specifically, regarding her article “Confronting Inequity / The Trauma We Don’t See.” In this article, she discusses how her trauma from her childhood has manifested itself as something hidden within her despite her outward appearance and success. She has recognized that “too often, the trauma of high achievers, especially those of color, goes unrecognized because their achievements are sometimes mistaken for resilience” (Simmons, 2020). I believe it is important for educators to understand these unseen traumas and stresses that our students are going through as we form a racially just pedagogy. We must be aware not to retraumatize our students of color “by showing pictures or videos of police- or vigilante-related violence against Black people” (Simmons 2020).

    As a person who identifies as Caucasian, I may find myself in uncomfortable situations. But as Simmons explains, we “can’t be passive.” We cannot disregard issues of racism and how our students are affected by it. As we construct a racially just pedagogy we must integrate students’ realities into our curriculum, “this means affirming and valuing students and their communities in our teaching and putting social justice, equity, liberty, healing, and humanity at the core of our instruction, curriculum, and school policies” (Simmons, 2020). I know the importance of being anti-racist, but I also must actively teach anti-racism by creating a more equitable classroom and society for our students. As an educator, I will commit myself to racial justice for my students, even when it is uncomfortable and challenging.

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    • Hey Nicole! I really like what you said about focusing on unseen traumas and understanding that if we are not aware, we are risking retraumatizing our students. Sometimes, especially in subjective subjects (like English, art or theatre), students can often feel like in order to succeed they must give apart of themselves they aren’t ready to show yet. In more straightforward subjects like math or science, students can continue to experience the same traumas and inequities over and over. Recognizing that the way we talk about and introduce these subjects, makes all of the difference. It is a continuous effort because every year we will learn more and more from our students what they need and how we can improve.

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      • Hi Emma,
        Your point about asking students to share parts of themselves that they’re not ready to show really resonated with me, and made me contemplate how I currently teach. I ask my language students to do an awful lot of sharing, and I’ve realized that I need to take a second look at my lesson plans to make sure that I am not asking any student to share more than they are comfortable with. I joke to them that they can lie to me any time on an assignment if they don’t want to share their real experiences, but I recognize that I will need a better long-term solution as I move into more diverse public education settings.

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  16. Hello! My name is Erica Burke and I attend California State University Long Beach for my Single Subject Credential in Physical Education and added authorization in adapted physical education. In the article “The Importance of Narrative: moving towards sociocultural understanding of trauma- informed praxis”, Dr. Noah Golden states that trauma is when a person experiences “loss, violence, displacement, and oppression” which can happen on a small or large scale (2020). Trauma can affect people of all ages whether it is physical or psychological and having teachers taught how to successfully support these students is crucial. Educators need to be aware that students may not be able to self-regulate their emotions and can cause problem behaviors. It is important to not to criticize the students behavior but give them positive coping strategies instead. Dr. Golden argues that educators need to see trauma in a holistic manner including their sociocultural experiences. Educators need to treat students with trauma in an empathetic and understanding manner (Golden, 2020). I think this is extremely important for educators to emphasize in their classrooms. When students are experiencing trauma it is affecting them as a whole (home, friends, social groups, hobbies, academics, etc). As educators, we can help these students by being understanding to their needs and “humanizing pedagogy”. In the article, Violet states that she would get anxiety attacks and her teachers would not let her step out of the classroom for a few minutes (Golden, 2020). This is a simple issue that could be resolved by giving her those few minutes outside. Violet needed that time to recollect herself and what is the harm in giving it to her?

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  17. Hello, my name is Lupita Carrillo. I am in the Single Subject Credential Program at CSULB to become an ELA teacher. Some of the authors defined trauma as negative cognitive development due to stressful events or periods in someone’s life. In these particular articles, that stress if racial prejudices that effect students’ way of life and then the way they are treated in schools because of where they come from by those in positions of authority. The information in these articles helped to reinforce my thoughts in that teachers are not as culturally responsive as they should be. There is a lack of what Dr. Golden refers to as “trauma-informed approaches” (2020, p. 71). These include the ability to self-regulate and control emotions and reactions to certain behaviors from students and attempting to dig for the real issue behind these behaviors rather than blaming the student or their background for the “bad” behaviors. This way, students are not racially profiled by their teachers and the problems that they face are acknowledged as real obstacles that hinder them from being able to keep up and learn the same as other students.

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  18. Hello everyone. My name is Eric Kawahara and I am currently pursuing my teaching credential for Mathematics at California State University, Long Beach. One thing that I noticed when reading the articles is that when trying to define what trauma is, the articles instead brought up an example of trauma. This is because trauma can be difficult to define, but easy to bring up an experience to describe it. Trauma is common because it stems from experiences such as violence, loss, or racism which, sadly, happen frequently in the modern world. Although it is common, trauma should not be taken lightly. As future educators, it is important to learn how to make instruction trauma informed.

    Trauma informed instruction is the preparation of teachers to deal and prevent traumatic experiences of students. One of the largest problems in today’s society that creates trauma for people is racism. By preventing racism as part of creating trauma informed instruction, we are essentially creating an anti-racist environment that welcomes all students from different backgrounds. Teachers can also help students deal with the traumatic experiences that students had faced, such as racism against them. School should be more than a learning environment, but also a safe space for children. It should not only prevent traumatic experiences, but also offer help for students who have trauma.

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  19. Hello everyone, my name is Drew Kotter. I am currently attending Utah State University pursuing my secondary education teaching license in English. As I was reading the article “If we aren’t addressing racism, we aren’t addressing trauma” by Dena Simmons, many things caught my attention. First, Simmons accounts her own personal experience of feeling traumatized when in school, her teachers didn’t literature written by black people and if they did read any, it was always about slavery and oppression. Seeing her own kind that way made her feel unimportant and devalued. Today on the news, seeing all the deaths of black people causes her fear, worry, and anxiety; she feels that if the world is treating black people that way and are dying, then she feels the same fate will come to her. Simmons makes an argument that in schools, there needs to be a shift towards a “racially just pedagogy” (Simmons, 2020) and to celebrate more “Black love, Black excellence, Black joy, Black heroism, Black ingenuity, and Black success” (Simmons, 2020). Simmons continues to argue that for too long, black people have had to listen about all the horrible things that have happened to them over the years and not enough attention is put on the good. She argues that white supremacy and privilege needs to be kicked out of the school curriculum and it’s up to white teachers to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and get to work; teachers need not be afraid to be vocal in racial justice, Simmons claims it is what we need more of by saying, “we have to stop prioritizing white tears over Black lives” (Simmons, 2020).

    As educators, we need to understand that racism is part of trauma, trauma comes because of racism. I agree with Simmons in that “Most important, center students’ realities in the content you teach. This means affirming and valuing students and their communities in our teaching and putting social justice, equity, liberty, healing, and humanity at the core of our instruction, curriculum, and school policies” (Simmons, 2020). If we as educators are trying to help students have a voice, make a difference, and contribute to the world by helping them apply what they are learning, how can we do that if we are not addressing the current issues that are currently affecting their lives? Educators need to stand up and make a difference and leave the status quo and comfort zones that they have so long been in. All students need a voice and all students matter; if this be case, then social issues surrounding their lives matter. It’s time for teachers to step up and speak out and show kids that they care.

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    • Hi, Andrew!

      I definitely with you and Simmons. While it is very important to educate students on the objective facts about racial injustice, there has been too little emphasis on black achievement and the potential of students from all races and backgrounds. Pioneering change involves educating our students about the past and empowering our students to make the future different. All students need to see themselves represented in the curriculum they study in order to feel like they belong in our classrooms and in our society.

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    • Hi Andrew! I couldn’t agree more, I believe it is so important as future educators to address the current issues that are affecting our students’ lives. Not only does this acknowledge all of the emotions and hurt they may be feeling from racial injustices we see daily, but it also shows that we care about all of our students and will support them. I also agree with Simmons that there needs to be more light shed on the achievements and positive accomplishments of black people, rather than only giving attention to the negative.

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    • Hi Andrew,
      I can see the connection that you made between trauma and racist ideologies, since people may be suffering because of their treatment as a person of color. I think that sometimes students are not aware that they have trauma which is why it is important that we take time to recognize some of the signs and leave “comfort zones” as you stated. When we take the time to show students that we care and create positive communities then we can start the healing process. I am also planning on teaching English so one way I will have students express themselves is through their writing. Thank you for your insight!

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    • Hi Andrew,

      I think that you and Simmons make a valid point in reference to Black trauma being used far too heavily and clumsily in the classroom context. I’ve often thought that a lot of media and classroom content that looks at the Black experience almost always devolves into an almost fetishization of Black suffering and violence towards Black bodies. I think, frankly, that this over focus on Black suffering as content embodies a racist structure where Black history and experience is reduced to an essentialized trope of perpetual victimhood. This isn’t to say that historical injustices should never be talked about, nor should Black testimony and narratives that include lived traumas be ignored. I think your engagement with Simmons’ desire to emphasize Black love, excellence, success, etc. is a positive roadmap for what future teaching can look like, especially if input and experience of students is progressively engaged with when designing classes and lessons.

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      • Shane,

        I really enjoyed your response. We definitely need to find a balance in the curriculum where history is discussed, as it should be, but also there needs to be a celebration of achievements and success of black lives. Black people cannot feel hopeful for future success if they don’t see how people in the past or people now are succeeding and overcoming adversity. I agree, that the way we approach black history creates this victimization of black people and we shouldn’t be doing that; they are just as much normal people as anybody else. Along with addressing black history, it’s important to address the adversity that is going on today for black people, but with that being said, it’s important to emphasize that black people are not subject to always be under attack, but that changes need to be made, and we as educators need to be part of that change. As you mentioned, a great way to make a change is to positively engage ALL students in lessons to share their voices.

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    • Hello Andrew,

      I am very much in agreement with you about racism and trauma. As educators, we are not simply teaching our students our content area, we are here to empower our students to so that they may be able to create the change we wish to see in our society. I agree with you wholeheartedly that we need to highlight black achievement as well as a space to talk openly about racial injustices. We can no longer continue teaching while ignoring the traumas our students experience By learning to listen to one another is how we will begin to create real change and healing can begin to occur.

      Like

    • Hi Andrew,

      I really enjoyed reading your post. I also read the articles by Deena Simmons and found her work very informative and impactful. I agree with you that we as educators need to address the current issues that are currently affecting their lives. Rather than simply showing traumatic events, we need to invite our students to question and challenge deeper aspects of why these events take place and how we can work to change the future. I also believe that educators need to leave their comfort zones and have the difficult conversations that have been avoided for so long.

      Like

    • Hi Andrew!

      Very well said…I absolutely love what you quoted by Simmons, “we have to stop prioritizing white tears over Black lives”. It very much seems like what we have done and continue to do is talk about Black lives in a way that suits white lives. This is evident in the way we teach history, literature, and the way we report the news. There is so much more to Black lives and the Black experience than slavery, and we need to celebrate that. Thank you for your post and ideas!

      Like

    • Hello Drew,

      I as well resonated a lot with Simmons’s article, especially with the times we are currently facing. Educators do have the responsibility to educate students in becoming engaging members of society. Members who are not racist and empathetic towards others. In order to do so myself, I plan to engage my students in discussions on movements such as MeToo, LGBTQ+, and Black Lives Matter. I will be teaching Health Science at a high school, and the subjects I cover in my content can be triggering for some students. I need to make sure my students feel safe and can engage in conversations in my class without feeling unsafe and judged. I have no doubt that with your current philosophy in the need of having educators that are active in matters that students face outside of the classroom, you will have a positive and engaging classroom.

      Like

  20. Hello, everyone! My name is Marilyn Black Andrus, I am going to be a secondary ed English teacher, and I am wrapping up my last semester of classes before I start student teaching in the fall of 2021. I live in a little town in Utah where there is quite a lot of diversity, but I haven’t had much experience teaching diverse students. One of my biggest fears about teaching–that I’m hoping you can advise me on–is that I won’t be able to center my curriculum on diversity without seeming like a fraud. I want to focus on diversity, be a culturally responsive teacher, and show my kids all of the wonderful things about their culture, but I don’t want it to seem like I am a hypocrite because I haven’t experienced the hardships that I will be teaching about. How can I focus on the really important issues of today and not make it seem like I’m just trying to be trendy?

    I hope this makes any sense to all of you. If you have any advise as to how to teach in a culturally responsive way–without seeming like a hypocrite because I am white–I would love to hear it.

    Like

    • Hi Marilyn, I really appreciate your honesty surrounding diversity and fears of teaching in a world that is not only increasingly diverse but in an educational system that is also changing rapidly to become more culturally responsive and equitable. While I cannot relate to growing up in a non-diverse area (I grew up and live in LA), I can understand how daunting this may feel. From a PD point of view, may I suggest watching and reading works that discuss the history of not only education but systemic oppression and wrongs in America. Some personal favorites are the film “13th”, “I am Not Your Negro”, and “Walkout”-A movie about the 1968 school walkouts in LA. I’d also recommend reading “Why Are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria” and “The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom”. Beyond these resources, I firmly believe that one of the best ways to be culturally responsive is to get to know the community you teach in. Don’t just come to work and go home, go to school events, community events, meet with your parents rather than generalize about their backgrounds and ways of life; be involved and be present.
      Feel free to reach out to me for more! I got my BA in Sociology and am now a secondary social science credential student at CSULB so equity and education is my true passion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much for giving me concrete resources to use! I will absolutely watch those films and take the time to read those books. I would absolutely love to be able to chat more about the resources that might be helpful as I continue on this path to be more equitable and anti-racist.

        Like

    • Hello Marilyn,

      I agree with Renee that studying the history and listening to the stories of diverse and minority people can help to educate you in how to integrate diversity into your classroom and help build you to have a Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. The various films she listed can help to bring out the emotions that the people and students affected feel about our society today due to the discrimination that continues to occur in the world. The most important thing is to not pretend like it does not exist and that it is not there. Many people tend to say, “I don’t see color. I don’t see race.” This further strips people down of their own cultures and identities into stating that they choose to see them as “one of them” as if their diversity and ethnicity would make them “the other” and not human. I would also suggest being willing to listen to the personal stories that your students have and integrating their backgrounds into the curriculum. It is okay to feel uncomfortable about this shift in your teaching and it is okay to fail at it. As long as you continue to try to make a change. If you don’t feel uncomfortable at a point, then you’re doing something wrong. Thank you for your willingness to make a change in the lives of underprivileged youth who need teachers to care more.

      Thanks,
      Lupita Carrillo

      Like

      • Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate how you commented on how as I am trying to make this shift it is okay to fail at it. I really think that so long as we are trying to be better we will become better. It takes time and effort to make any lasting change in yourself or in your community, and I just think that it is so valuable to keep taking the time to do so.

        Like

    • Hi Marilyn,
      I can relate to the unsure and hesitant feelings you shared on centering your curriculum on diversity, without feeling like a fraud. One aspect I have learned this semester that pulled me out of this feeling was realizing that the actual sharing of our differences – as educators, students, communities- is one of the first steps to being a culturally responsive teacher. Celebrating our diversity develops an awareness which allows us to understand, reflect, and grow together as a society, in pursuit of a more progressive education that is not bound to one standard. As a white identifying educator I believe one of the greatest things that I can do to create a safe and comfortable environment for my students with different backgrounds than I, and to make sure they don’t feel like I am an imposter that thinks I understand anything of what they are going through, is just to show them that I care. That I am listening. And that I am learning- just like them.
      I have a white female friend who works at a majority Black public school in Harlem, NY. She once told me that every single day she felt like she had to prove herself to her students, that she wasn’t just “another old white lady coming in to tell them what to do.” But by the end of every semester, her commitment to them and the work that she put in to creating a student-centered curriculum ended up allowing her to create strong and real relationships with many of her students. One thing that she started doing after her first year of teaching was getting involved with her student’s communities (attending block parties, extracurricular activities, etc.). This was hard since she lives outside of the city, but it made all the difference in showing them that she cared, and allowed her to get to know them, and vice versa, outside of the classroom. She has told me that she has learned so much, but continues to make mistakes when confronting topics of race in the classroom; but she puts herself out there, feels uncomfortable, and then encourages her students to teach her and help her grow.
      My classmates replied with fantastic references, and I think Lupita put it into perfect words; “If you don’t feel uncomfortable at a point, then you’re doing something wrong.”

      Thank you for your post, and for being honest in your sharing!
      Best,
      Arcadia

      Like

    • Hello, Marilyn!

      Centering curriculum on diversity goes beyond ticking cultural boxes when decorating the classroom and lesson plan. Instead of looking at your students and deciding what works best reflect them, we must converse with them to find out about their interests as well as the cultures they belong to. To truly understand our students, we must also create trauma-informed classrooms that does not seek to define them and instead allows them to define themselves.

      It is impossible to experience the hardships we will lecture on just as it is impossible to experience all the hardships our future students will have endured by the time we meet them. What is important, and crucial, to creating a culturally responsive classroom is to know them “as promising young people who have been through difficult circumstances or experiences” (Golden, 76). Knowing that our students are capable and have gone through painful experiences allows us to humanize them while establishing bonds. Having these bonds is a good first step for giving students a voice by which you can begin laying out the cultural framework for your classroom while also helping the student grow beyond their trauma.

      Lastly, your being white does not make you devoid of cultural funds of knowledge. It is important to think back upon the things you do know just as it is to research what you do not. I am Latino but being a person of color does not mean I am not ignorant of other cultures or even aspects of my own.

      Thank you for your post!

      Like

    • I had the exact same fear when I started in the credential program. I am a white male from a Southern family that moved to CA in the last generation or so. The biggest thing about diversity and teaching in a diverse environment is that it will teach you as much as you teach it. I was in my own bubble till community college and being around diversity is when I learned about it. I learned about LGBT+ communities from friends that were classified LGBT+ for example. You will learn a lot from the students and they from you as well. The best advice is to be open to new viewpoints as the students will be the ones guiding you through this. Others have pointed out books and other media as well but experience will also be vital. It is impossible to know everything there is to know but accepting that and continuing to grow every day is what makes this career so great. I also think having this concern shows that you care and that is also a great sign!

      Like

    • Hi Marilyn,

      Thank you for asking this question! I think it’s an important one and I would love to learn more about ways to effectively and respectfully teach about diversity and multiculturalism. I am coming to learn that the best way to approach this, is to be honest with your students and open up the conversation with them. I think they would really respect and appreciate you involving them in this discussion. You can even ask them what they think about this and how they would prefer that you go about talking about diversity and teaching about it. Involving them will make them feel more respected, appreciated, and important. That in itself is HUGE! It will also help you to connect with them and build a closer relationship. Thank you again!

      Like

  21. Hi everyone!
    My name is Alexa Bills, and I am going to be a secondary English education teacher. Admittedly, I have very little experience addressing the effects of racism, misogyny, etc…and their associated traumas. Reading through these articles and taking classes about diversity and teaching, has taught me a lot, but I still feel inadequate. I am a white, cis-gendered, woman who has only lived in safe, middle-class communities. I know that I need to advocate for a diversely based way of addressing traumas and inequity, but I feel like my lack of experience with these situations has left me ill-equipped to do so. I don’t want to let myself passively watch as students struggle. This is a difficult thing to address, but we all need to do so–including me.
    I see trauma as a learned response to difficult situations and environments. It can have a terrible impact on people’s well-being and mental health, and we need to be willing to both see and address that. I am privileged and have thus been given the opportunity to simply ignore this, and it would be much easier for me to do so. Ignorance is bliss, but it could also be very harmful.

    The biggest thing that I still need to learn, is how to be an impactful advocate for students and for their well-being. I know that traumas and inequity need to be addressed, but I am still unsure of how to do so. If you have any suggestions or input–I would love to hear them!

    Thanks,

    Like

    • Hey Alexa! Thanks for sharing your voice. I completely understand where you are coming from. I too am a cis-gendered female, white, and from a middle-class family who lives in a very safe area. Growing up I had zero experience with racial trauma, gender trauma, sexuality-related trauma, or misogyny. I count myself so very fortunate. The thing that shook me awake was taking my sister into my family when I was a young woman. I had no idea the “minor” issues that POC dealt with every day. Microaggressions that built up and could cut so deeply away at a person. Things like not seeing people that looked like her in her books or Tv. Or that she couldn’t go into her local drug store and find makeup for her shade or hair products that worked for her hair…I watched Alyssa deal with these struggles and it slowly opened my eyes to the larger issues at play. Alyssa moved to a very small town in Idaho with her white husband last year. The closest large town with a grocery store in it is home to a branch of the KKK. For real, the KKK. So Alyssa drives hours away to the next neighboring town with a grocery store in it because of the fear that somebody would follow her home from the grocery store parking lot. It makes me physically ILL to think about this. And now Alyssa is pregnant and she is more paranoid of this happening than ever. She’s going to keep driving an extra hour to avoid that town with the close grocery store…Anyways, my point is this. The more and more time you spend with people of color, maybe it will be the people you work with, or friends, or students, you will start to see the small things move into very large issues. We so sadly live in a world where we can’t stay out of what is going on. It’s here and it’s not leaving. We are just fortunate that this will never happen to us because of the privilege of our skin. As you meet these people, just listen to them. Hear what is happening, and offer assistance or support or love. There isn’t anything I can do about my sister’s situation, but I can talk with her on the phone and I can hear her frustrations and let her know that she’s valued and loved. I suppose that’s all anybody can do in this situation. And I think that’s a good place to start.

      Like

    • Hello Alexa,

      Thanks for being honest and sharing your input. Sometimes I feel the same way you do, especially with circumstances that come up that I’ve never been a part of. I understand that even some students won’t address trauma with anyone that won’t understand it; so how can we as educators help these students, one, recognize it, but two address it in a healthy way that makes an impact on the society? The first thing that comes to my mind is writing. I know writing isn’t the most enjoyable thing for many kids, but it is a medium to express thoughts that might otherwise be very difficult express orally. One great example of this that I learned is by a book and movie called, Freedom Writers. It is about a new english teacher that has an all black classroom in a school where education results are very low. These kids are going through loads and loads of trauma in their daily lives outside of school, and she as a white female, does not know how to get through to them, or even teach them. She eventually teaches them about the Jews and the Holocaust-which these kids are able to relate to. She then gives all these kids a notebook to take home, and every day write in them about what is going on in their lives. This changes everything. Once the kids are able to discuss their trauma and try solving them, their lives change for the better. I would recommend reading the book and watching the movie. Another thing that comes to my mind is being able to shed light on trauma in the past and what people did to change it for the better. As educators, I’ve seen in the classroom too much teacher teaching about something bad that has happened in our history, but no response on students can make a difference or change so that doesn’t happen again, or to solve the issue that is relevant today. Students don’t want to see themselves through a negative lens, but want to be able to feel successful for who they are. I hope that helps.

      Like

    • Hey Alexa! Thank you for sharing and being honest about not having a lot of experience talking about racial issues. I can understand how it may feel uncomfortable to discuss these issues with students when you feel that you have been living like “ignorance is bliss.” I think it’s a great first step that you acknowledged that you want to advocate and learn more about racial injustice. As a biracial future physical education teacher, talking to my students about race might come a little easier for me; however, I am also learning how to start these conversations and contribute to students’ awareness. We are all learning together. Our students are learning from us as well as we are learning from our students. I think it’s important to push through your apprehensions about talking about social issues because conversations are the beginning of change.

      Like

  22. Hello everybody! My name is Talia Roundy and I will be teaching English in a High School! I actually have a direct line of sight into watching racism happen. My older sister’s name is Alyssa. Alyssa was adopted into my family in her late teens and my mid-teens. Alyssa is a biracial woman. She is half black and half white. Watching her when I was younger didn’t phase me at all, and I never saw blatant racism towards her. But the older I get the more racial hate I see coming her way. I read the article “If we aren’t addressing racism, we aren’t addressing trauma. ASCD in-service” by Simmons, D. (2020) There was a particular line that struck me when I read. The article reads ” I searched for stories about Black biracial children with immigrant mothers and absent fathers, about Black children who lived in cities and invented games because going outside was sometimes too dangerous. I searched for stories that represented me.” This line hit me hard because, for the yearly part of Alyssa’s life, this is how it went. Born and raised in Minnesota, she didn’t have a present father, and she had a mother that worked so much to pay the bills that she didn’t have the opportunity to do a lot. Her two half-sisters were fully black and would not let her come to certain events because the culture of the party or the sport would be unsafe for somebody with lighter skin, like Alyssa. So no, I have never experienced racism myself, but the person I love most in this world has been engulfed in it since the day she was born. As an educator, I plan to make inclusivity a part of my classroom. That just going to be the way that it works. I believe that the way it should work everywhere. I will give my POC and my white students literature that they can see themselves in. It’s not going to be like going to the drug store and finding only “white girl shampoo” that won’t work well on your curly hair (a problem that Alyssa has had her whole life).

    Like

    • Thanks for sharing Talia. I do agree that it’s so important to be inclusive in the stories that we tell because hearing ones like Alyssa’s can have a tremendous impact. I am so glad that you are trying to include stories that a variety of people can see themselves in. Our current educational materials are often whitewashed and while that may seem like a relatively unimportant issue, it adds to ignorance. In order to fight against prejudice, stereotypes, and microaggressions we need to hear people’s stories and empathize with them. I think a big problem of our society is that we dehumanize people that belong to different demographics. We see them as members of a group rather than individuals. This is a habit that we need to change, and I think the classroom is a wonderful place to start.

      Like

    • Hello Talia!

      Thank you so much for your personal and insightful post. It’s amazing that your family was willing to open their arms to a child in need, especially one that brings the challenge of dealing with the injustices of racial discrimination when it may not have been a present issue for you in the first place. It’s powerful for you to notice and understand that though you may not be facing these struggles, you acknowledge that they exist and are affecting the people around you who you love. I agree that it is essential to maintain inclusivity in the classroom. I hold strongly onto the teachings of Paulo Freire who advocated for literacy for the underprivileged and oppressed so that they can gain the knowledge and power to rise above their positions. I like the analogy you make of white literature and “white girl shampoo.” It is a problem we see happen all the time where the “norm” tends to be based around white standards and anything else is “different” and “unordinary.” This reminds me of a news article I once read about Google searching professional hairstyles versus unprofessional hairstyles – the results enraged me because, as you can guess, the results displayed white-European hairstyles versus black-African hairstyles respectively. It’s disgusting, to say the least. I trust that you will use your intellectual power to help POC fight against these prejudices and make the change we wish to see in the world.

      Thank you,
      Lupita Carrillo

      Like

  23. Hey there! My name is Emma Morgan. I am a student at Utah State University studying Theatre Education and English Education. Trauma informed pedagogy is something that I am very passionate about. In recovering from my own trauma, I became educated in how trauma effects the brain, our learning, and relationships. So, this is something dear to my heart. The way I learned completely shifted after I was diagnosed with PTSD. My whole life I was such a good learner. School was so easy for me but after traumatic events I couldn’t focus in class, I couldn’t read as well and I lacked motivation completely. I see this is a common theme in learners with trauma. What I found interesting from the reading was the idea that trauma can come from a variety of sources, including experiences with oppression. My cousin, wrote a lovely article about the effects of her traumatic experiences with racism. It opened my eyes to how those experience truly effect students. In the article I read, “Becoming unstuck: Racism and misogyny as traumas diffused in the ordinary”, my eyes were opened to even more ways of developing trauma. Particularly the idea that students may not want to be outdoors walking alone. What this article really showed to me, was there is always a reason a student is holding back, or not wanting to participate. When they don’t want to do group work, when they hate writing, when they are scared of reading in front of a class, 9/10 they have had an experience that has caused them to feel like that is not safe for them. So, the question is, how do we gain back trust? How do we show students that although they have had traumatic educational experience in the past, this time will be different? How do we work around their boundaries?

    Like

    • Hi Emma,

      I appreciate you sharing your personal experience with trauma and admire that you recognize how trauma is a possible explanation for why students may refrain from participating in school. Educators should adopt this mindset and be open-minded about the unspoken struggles that students may be facing. In order to promote students’ healing processes, I believe that educators must work to ask the questions that you posed in end of your discussion. It is important to recognize and respect the emotional boundaries that students have developed from their traumas. We must realize that we are teaching human beings who have their own feelings, personal traumas, and lived realities. Although sometimes we may not know or understand their trauma to a full extent, it is helpful to show our students that we hear and empathize with them.

      Great post!
      Mimi

      Like

    • As a survivor of trauma myself, I could not agree with you more. This type of thing can change the way a student handles not just their lessons, but also the social and emotional aspects of school as well. I too was diagnosed with PTSD many years ago and you hit the nail on the head with what you said on the inability to focus. What do you believe can be something to be done for those with trauma to aid them in their learning? What intervention or program do you find most helpful to help them thrive and make the most out of their education?

      Like

    • Hello Emma,

      I am glad to know that you want to help future students be able to deal with trauma. As for your questions, it is not easy trusting someone and many students are at a young age where they do not feel ready to open up to people. I think trust is something we do not have control over because there were still people in school that I would not trust because of how they were as people. Although everyone should have people they should trust but in the classroom, best thing to do is let each student decide for themselves who they trust and who they do not trust. Letting that manifest itself just like we did growing up in school. Best thing we can do as teachers is be there for any type of support they need. We work around those boundaries by letting the students open up whenever they are ready to and if they do not choose to, that is okay too.

      Like

    • Hi Emma! I totally agree with you about the point on traumatic experiences with racism. Being an Asian In the US, especially in recent years, taught me how to be always on guard and vigilant of my surroundings. On the one hand, it’s a good thing that I’m more socially aware and have stronger situational awareness; on the other hand, I feel like I am constantly stressed out when I’m walking out on the street at night. News and media might have exaggerated a little bit regarding racial tensions; however, I believe it’s real and around us.
      You asked how we can gain back trust, and I think that’s something we as educators have the power to do. We can show students the care and support they desire and share stories of their own. Connecting students on a daily basis is key to ensure students feel safe in your presence. Again, this is something that all teachers have to come together and put extra effort into sharpening out culturally responsive pedagogy.

      Like

    • Hi Emma,

      Thank you for sharing your own experiences with us. I agree with your point that often times, trauma is an explanation for why students have difficulties in school. I think that when we as educators address this, it needs to be centered around culturally responsive pedagogy. Like you, I am studying English education, and feel that we are uniquely situated to start that by carefully considering the texts that we are reading in class. If aspects of a test feel familiar to a student’s experience, then that can help them feel more comfortable. And when those texts deal with forms of trauma that may be effecting our students, how we react will set the tone for the classroom. If characters in a text encounter racism, we need to address that and also address what can be done to move forward. This is difficult work, of course, but I think we can all agree that it is necessary and worthwhile.

      Thank you again for sharing.

      Kate

      Like

  24. Hey there! My name is Amma Christensen and I am a student at Utah State University studying Secondary Education with an emphasis on English. As I wrap up my final semester of classes before my next semester of student teaching, I have been contemplating all the things I’ve been learning concerning creating a multicultural classroom and combatting things such as racism, sexism, and prejudice in the classroom. I know that it is so, so important to be aware of these things and to do my best to make my classroom a safe place where students can learn and grow.
    As I was reading about trauma, I solidified my belief that whatever personal trauma a student has gone through should be addressed in some way (that way may not be in my classroom and I recognize that). I think that identifying, addressing, and validating personal trauma is not only a great way to make connections through writing, reading literature, and interacting with other living, breathing human beings, but is also a necessary part of going on with life in a fulfilling way. I am in no way saying that the trauma should be forgotten or dismissed– quite the opposite in fact. Let it shape you but control the way that happens. Let it make you more empathetic and less separated the next time you talk to someone who is dealing with their own personal trauma. But I digress…
    I know that helping students to deal with their own trauma will be a big part of my career and while I am both excited and apprehensive, I am super open to any tips, tricks, comments, or questions about how to do so in an appropriate and helpful way. 🙂

    Like

    • Hi Amma, I really appreciate you saying how acknowledging trauma provides students with validation and also helps them grow from it. I recognize what you mean when you say that we should let trauma shape us us, but not control us. Similar to you, I believe it is important to recognize the trauma someone has and just as equally to not allow that to be their only identification. We are more than our trauma and reflecting on our trauma is a necessary step to take in order to grow from it and use what it has given us to improve.

      Like

    • Hi Amma,

      I really appreciate how you mentioned the importance of identifying our students’ trauma in some way. So often, most teachers, either to avoid digressing from the curriculum or pretend that our students have not experienced trauma, do not consider the need to address these sensitive ideas in our curriculum. A culturally responsive curriculum, however, entails addressing our students’ needs and lived experiences so by avoiding these issues we (as educators) are missing out on valuable connections with our students. I really like how you phrased trauma, “Let it shape you but control the way that happens. Let it make you more empathetic and less separated the next time you talk to someone who is dealing with their own personal trauma.” Being a student of our students’ means incorporating their lived experiences into our lessons and to create a safe and open environment for our students’ to share their struggles and challenges. I am so happy that we are learning these practices so that we can change the culture of how classrooms are viewed by our students.

      Respectfully,

      Daniel Byun

      Like

    • Hi Amma,
      I admire what you mentioned about giving students a space in classroom to acknowledge their traumas will provide students to cope with these difficulties and help them to grow from their past experiences. My content discipline is English as well and I also believe having students make connections and express their feelings through writing and having meaningful discussions can help them cope with their personal struggles. Additionally, it’s important for a teachers to consider the next steps after students become vulnerable in their writing by providing necessary resources and support to help students grow from it.

      Like

    • Hi Amma,

      First, congratulations on wrapping up your credential program. I think what you said about providing a medium for students to express their stories of trauma is important. As you noted, making that connection whether they read about it in a book, poem, see it on a video, or even listening to a fellow peer can help them build a sense of a community. Humanizing and validating their experience is a significant first step. We need to see the student for who they are and push them to their full potential. I believe your willingness to learn and ask for input will make you a great teacher. The only advice I can offer, if you have not considered it already, is to connect and participate in your students’ local community events. Whether it’s a cultural celebration, a local community garden, or anything that can connect your students to each other and people outside who are all invested in helping each other out.

      Best Regards,
      Arnoldo Sanchez

      Like

  25. Hi everyone! I’m Ryan Morey, a senior English Education major at Westfield State University in Massachusetts. I’m currently completing a fully remote practicum at a nearby high school. It’s been awesome reading some of you guys’s thoughts on the articles. In Dutro’s article specifically, I really love the extents she goes to to emphasize the invitation of trauma into our classrooms and their curriculum, because of the opportunity it gives students to develop a more positive relationship with trauma they’ve experienced in a way that they might not have been able to before. My favorite quote of hers is when she says, “Ellison (2014) urges researchers in literacy and other fields to reframe trauma narratives shared by others as agentic texts, shifting those stories of important life experiences from examples of ‘TMI’ (Too Much Information) to ‘MNI’ (Much Needed Information).” (Dutro 2017) Though these conversations can be (and often are) very difficult for students to have, changing the stigma surrounding the involvement of student trauma in the classroom can be the first step in equipping students with the skills to combine their life experiences with classroom practices to express themselves as intimately as they feel like is proactive.
    Trauma informed instruction can be a very useful tool when considering anti-racist pedagogy as well. Because trauma informed instruction encourages the integration of individual students’ trauma in their learning, students of color are indirectly encouraged to involve any racial trauma they may have experienced in their lives in their work. This gives amplifies their voice, giving them a specific place to interact with these traumas, but it also can be beneficial for anti-racist education in general (even with white students) because their classmates see the racial trauma they’ve heard about playing out in the lives of students they know. They get to see how these traumas have impacted their classmates and how it exists in the world around them.

    Like

    • Hey Ryan!

      I really enjoyed reading your post as some of your ideas actually ran counter to my intuition surrounding the idea of trauma’s place in the classroom. In the history education that I plan to do in the future, the experiences and narratives surrounding historically marginalized groups are sometimes distilled into two dimensional ways that focus explicitly on trauma, sometimes to a traumatizing extent itself. My reaction to this trend in education, as well as the sort of societal fascination with observing abuse of Black and Brown people, has been to want to pivot away from some of these more grisly depictions in favor of Simmons’ emphasis on Black success, power, etc. What I like about your analysis of the situation though is your desire to incorporate trauma into the classroom, but in a way that comes from the students themselves, rather than clumsily bombarding them with images and stories of horrible violence and abuse. I think ultimately I like your idea that students should be able to, “…express themselves as intimately as they feel like is proactive”. Allowing students a large degree of control over how trauma should be discussed and utilized in the classroom sounds like the best way forward and something I’ll be contemplating.

      Like

    • Hi Ryan, I really appreciate the connections you made to trauma-informed pedagogy and anti-racism. It is essential to link racism, in all its forms (covert, overt, microaggressions, etc) to trauma; because at the end of the day, this can and likely does traumatize one over their life. Having future educators that see this intersectionality is key, and reading your post makes me hopeful that nation-wide we will see a shift in education very soon. I also wanted to add that I agree that we should be “inviting” trauma into the classrooms because it destigmatizes it for students. I honestly think this should be done at all ages, but especially in secondary classrooms, where peer pressure, the pressures of being a teen, and societal pressures are higher than ever and kids need a space to decompress and work through potential traumas.

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    • Hi Ryan!

      I agree with what you have mentioned about Dutro’s article! It does take patience and understanding for a student to understand their own narrative in themselves. As educators, we have to provide that conscious decision for students to always be comfortable in the classroom and like you said, express themselves. I appreciate how you connected this with the voices of students in minority groups. As a Latina women myself, I found it comfortable going to school in a community where everyone was the same ethnicity and me and it helped me open up to conversations about the experiences we would have in our culture. I believe if more schools of different ethnicities and cultures have an open understanding to each other like this in instruction, anti-racist pedagogy will be more than beneficial to create community and understanding between the culture in and outside the classroom practice.

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    • Hey Ryan!

      I enjoyed that you talked about shifting students’ understanding of what trauma is and having them break away from the traditional stigma. I use to think of trauma as a larger issue (which caused me to think I didn’t have any trauma) but allowing students to see and understand that trauma has so many forms can help them realize their own and allow for the healing process to begin. I also agree that it is important to implement literature within the classroom that will allow students to connect with the experiences of the characters within the story and how they learned to heal and handle trauma. It’s a good culturally responsive tool to implement.

      Thank you for your post!

      With much respect,

      Jessika Langley

      Like

  26. My name is Callie Mikesell (Rogers). I’m a junior studying English Education at Utah State University.

    Before reading these articles, I had not realized how much responsibility we have as teachers to do anti-racist work. I knew it was important, but I did not know how much we impact the way our students process racial injustices going on in the world. I did not know how much trauma was inadvertently caused by the way we have taught for decades. But Simmons wrote, “Just imagine the damage done to our Black students’ psyches when, at school, they are made invisible in academic content and yet blaringly visible through oversurveillance and policing”(“If We Aren’t Addressing Racism, We Aren’t Addressing Trauma”). Because of the years and years that we have ignored or sugar-coated racial issues in our schools offered predominantly white narratives in our literary canon, it is on us as teachers to turn the tables. Where do trauma informed instruction and anti-racism intersect? After reading these articles, I believe they must be one and the same. Simmons says, “Educators must confront racism and the resulting trauma from it. If not, we are not really doing equity work, and we are not really trauma-informed or trauma-sensitive,” (“If We Aren’t Addressing Racism, We Aren’t Addressing Trauma”). If we are truly trauma-informed, we will be teaching anti-racism in the classroom. And Simmons does not define trauma specifically but only says that it “does not manifest in the same ways in different people” (“Confronting Inequity/The Trauma We Don’t See”). Our job is not to define what trauma is, or to determine whether or not our BIPOC students have experienced trauma. Our job is to assume that they have trauma because of the racial injustices that continue to plague the nation, and our job is to come ready to confront that. It will never be enough to just be trauma-informed. We have to actively work towards anti-racism, constantly and relentlessly.

    Trauma-informed instruction opens our eyes to the way education has previously oppressed BIPOC students by teaching a white narrative as the norm and allows us to break that cycle. When we are trauma-informed, we diversify our content and allow our students to hear from writers and creators of all colors and races. We make room for a wide expanse of stories and narratives so that all students can recognize and identify with the material we are teaching. We make our classrooms a safe place to address racial issues going on in the world and teach the importance of anti-racist work and the responsibility we have as human beings to be a part of it.

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    • Hi Callie, I think you explained it well why it is necessary to teach while being trauma informed. When we ignore the past segregated teachings, we ignore our students who need to be represented. Being aware of the challenges and discrimination that our students face not only allows us to become closer with our students, but also lets them be vulnerable in the classroom. Using anti-racist material to teach not only helps those who have trauma due to the social system they live with, but also educates other students who previously never thought about the consequences of old teaching styles and lessons. By recognizing all students and addressing the racial issues currently going on, we as educators help our students feel heard and safe in a learning environment whose goal is to make them thrive.

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    • Hi Callie,

      You bring up powerful ideas here and one particular idea that stuck with me as I was reading your post was just how symbiotic anti-racism and trauma-informed pedagogy was. It’s so exciting to create safe and open spaces for our students’ and to address these sensitive yet essential ideas that create what we call a culturally responsive curriculum. There are so many practical ways in which this can be done and it looks different in any type of classroom, but the end goal is the same: shedding light to the importance of ant-racism and differences in our society. I hope that this generation of students’ graduates with a deep significance of equity and being proactive in this work.

      Respectfully,

      Daniel Byun

      Like

    • Hi Callie,
      I like that you mention that it is our job to assume students have trauma and find ways to support them. This credential program has allowed me to learn more about the struggles that students face and what that means for us. Being informed, patient, and giving them a voice are some of the things we can do as future educators to help them feel valued and safe. I agree that we need to break this cycle and I am excited that many future teachers will bring about this much needed change. Thank you for your response!

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    • Hi Callie!
      I enjoyed reading your comment, especially the part you wrote, “Trauma-informed instruction opens our eyes to the way education has previously oppressed BIPOC students by teaching a white narrative as the norm and allows us to break that cycle.” Indeed, many of our required texts and readings center around the white narrative, where students from different cultures learn that being white is the norm and superior in modern society. This reminds me of a TedTalk I watched in class in EDSE 435, “The Danger of a Single Story.” Dr. Golden showed us this video, and it has transformed the way I look at the world. I strongly feel that this is what’s happening in the US now, where the majority of the literature and personal biases are rooted in a single-story, that is, white is the norm, and other races are not. I believe this is a wake-up call for future educators like us. We have the power the change our society for the better if we inject culturally responsive pedagogy in all of our classes. Bouncing off of what you mentioned in the comment, I agree that we can and should address racial issues and teach our next generations how to show and practice empathy, and question our biases in our classes. I’m glad we are all in this together to slowly disrupt the current trends and help these children find a safe and healthy environment to succeed academically, emotionally, and socially.

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  27. Hi! My name is Tori Nevens and I am pursuing a social science teaching credential at California State University, Long Beach. I will be student teaching this Fall in the Long Beach Unified School District, most likely at the high school level. Beyond that, I will be pursuing a Master’s Degree in History at a university in New York City. I am not sure which university at this moment, but I am applying to four once the applications open this Fall/Winter. This semester I have been exploring the world of multiculturalism, inclusivity, culturally responsive and sustainable pedagogy, and how my own positionality has and can bias my epistemology. There have been moments of personal doubt, but there have also been moments of complete joy and reassurance that this is where I am suppose to be. Reading through these articles further affirms that I am where I need to be and that I can be a person who can create a space where students’ voices can be heard and valued.

    We all experience trauma in our lives. I think it is in that sense that makes it a “collective experience” BUT we do not experience it collectively. Let me explain my thought process here. Trauma is NOT a single story experience. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about the dangers of the single-story in her TEDtalk. Link here: (https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story?language=en). While she does not explicitly talk about trauma, she acknowledges our tendencies to think in the singular based on our perceptions of other people. I believe we do the same thing with the concept of trauma. Consider Elizabeth Dutro’s article, “Let’s Start with Heartbreak: The Perilous Potential of Trauma in Literacy”. She says, “What a complex word, trauma,” and yet we throw it around like its nothing sometimes. But what is trauma? Is trauma the same for me as it is for you? I would argue, no. Even during an event like 9/11, which Dutro does reference in her article, the event might have been experienced collectively, but the trauma that resulted from it was felt individually. Yet many medical professionals want to categorize trauma as something within a “biological or clinical dimension” as Dutro points out, but in Noah Asher Golden’s article, “The Importance of Narrative: Moving Towards Sociocultural Understandings of Trauma-Informed Praxis”, he points out, and I agree, that trauma “cannot be reduced to a fixed approach grounded solely in a biomedical understanding.” Trauma is much more complex than a diagnosis from a doctor. If we associate trauma with those having a diagnosis of PTSD, anxiety, and depression, then we have bought into the single-story narrative. Therefore those who have experienced trauma based on socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual identity, etc. are being told, that their trauma does not count.

    Dena Simmons, author of “If We Aren’t Addressing Racism, We Aren’t Addressing Trauma” and “Confronting Inequity/The Trauma We Don’t See” brings up topics that often make people uncomfortable. The thing is, it should make you uncomfortable. It should also make you made. It should also make you want to stand up, be courageous, and be a part of the change. While I felt that all the readings for this discussion board were meaningful, hers were the most powerful; the ones I hope everyone read; the ones I hope everyone saved, made notes, made promises. The section that stood out to me the most was “Educator Can’t Be Passive”. I highlighted the following passage:

    “Racial trauma is just as necessary for white children because the hate and rage that feeds racism, which originates from the acceptance of white supremacy, inflict harm too. Without a deeper understanding of their racial biases and assumptions, white youth run the risk of putting Black lives at risk over their privileged safety.”

    We as educators NEED to have these conversations. We cannot shy away from them. We cannot pretend they do not exist. To do that will perpetuate the trauma felt by people of color. I do not think this is too much to ask. If I can have these complex conversations with my eight year old nephew, why can’t I have them with my middle schoolers or my high schoolers? We need to create safe, affirming communities and spaces for our students where their voices are heard. Having these conversations are hard, but it is important.

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    • Hi Tori!
      You have eloquently outlined some deep thoughts here! I love how you connected trauma to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk about the single story. Trauma is not the same for everybody and assuming that it is will be detrimental to everyone involved: students, teachers, family, acquaintances, etc. As you pointed out, we all experience trauma but in very different ways and with varying degrees. This aspect of trauma will be so important for educators to remember as they begin to interact with students every year and as they reevaluate their practices and content in variables.
      Thank you for sharing!!

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  28. Hello everyone. My name is Arnoldo Sanchez and I am currently in the Single Subject Credential Program for Social Science at Cal State Long Beach. Prior to reading some of the articles, I’ve heard the phrase “trauma enforced practices,” however, I did not have a clear understanding of what it meant nor what exactly it looked like in practice. My previous conception of “trauma” centered upon youths who may have been deeply “scarred” that it makes them unable to actively participate within the larger society without the help of clinitians. In addition, I believed the task of taking on “trauma” was something reserved for someone who is an expert in the field.

    After reading some of the articles, the general consensus appears that teachers have the opportunity to create a space for students to open up about their life and acknowledge victories but also struggles of trauma. Spector (2017) points out how “an individual might not necessarily experience one event or one incident that may be considered traumatic, the trauma inflicted through racism and misogyny becomes ordinary with varying intensities under various conditions.” While we do need to acknowledge the individual’s experiences, we also need to look at other elements at play. Trauma as noted by several of the researchers is not always one singular event. While some may experience trauma, in its various forms, Golden (2020) notes we should consider “for what kinds of people are traumas expected? For whom, are privileges expected, and for whom are injustices a daily experience?” The assumption is that people of color are the usual suspects who experience trauma. The focus centers solely on the individual and not the systemic and ideological frameworks that perpetuate the conditions. It should be noted that trauma can affect anyone regardless of class, gender, or ethnicity.

    While it may appear to be another daunting task among the other responsibilities, it is critical as a teacher to make an effort for these youths. As a teacher, it may require a more deeper introspective analysis before taking on this task to address any biases or barriers prior to creating a space for students to be vulnerable. Of course, students will also need to be prompted prior to the density of the topics addressed and will be asked to listen, respect, and acknowledge others’ stories They may even need step out depending on the sensitivity of the topic. For those who are up to the task as teachers, we will need to consistently serve as a role model and support system for students to rely on to help in any way we can. Life is very challenging and as Dutro (2017) contents “Reciprocity means that teachers must lead with their own difficult stories—not because they will be the same as children’s, but to show that hard stories are present and welcome, that vulnerability does not lie solely with students, and that children can also serve as witnesses to teachers’ humanity.”

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    • Arnoldo,

      Your response is absolutely full of wisdom and I am glad I got to read what you think.

      One thing that stuck out to me was your realization that dealing with trauma isn’t exclusive to professionals. Every person experiences trauma, and it is our job to be a safe space for students to express their traumas. Of course we aren’t professionals, but we are adults who can determine what professionals our students should go to if needed.

      I also think that it is so important to share our humanity with our students. We need to be approachable and relatable for our students to feel safe in our classrooms. By getting rid of the stigmas associated with our own traumas, we can show our students that they can do the same.

      Thank you for your post,

      Sincerely,

      Marilyn

      Like

    • Hi, Arnoldo. My name is Rebekah Nichols and I am a student in the Ed.D. in Instructional Leadership program at Hunter College in NYC.
      Thank you for your post. You make many good points, including a broadening of what trauma might look like and who is qualified to help students express their traumatic experiences. In particular, I appreciate your concluding emphasis on the Dutro (2017) quote. This quote stood out to me as well. In my experience, shared vulnerability is a powerful aspect of forming community, including in the classroom. When a teacher honestly shares the more fragile aspects of their humanity, it invites students into genuine relationship, opening the door to increased levels of trust. Students are more willing to engage with their more sensitive experiences when this has been modeled for them. However, I think that Dutro (2017) makes an important point in regard to this interaction when she writes that as educators we must be careful to consider “the crucial difference between invitation and requirement” (p. 332). I think it far too easy to communicate (even unintentionally) that this vulnerability is transactional, that students owe us stories of their trauma because we have shared our own. Though I believe that this “reciprocity in bringing deeply felt experiences into classrooms” (Dutro, 2017, p. 333) is an invaluable tool, it is imperative that it remain invitational. It is our responsibility to provide the space for students to share their lives, but many of them may choose not to do so, and that is okay.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Hi everyone! My name is Crystal Duong and I am in the Single Subject Credential Program at California State University Long Beach. I am planning to become an English high school teacher. When I looked at the articles, they associated trauma with the negative experiences that a person faces. These experiences are often in the form of violence, loss, heartbreak, or oppression. Trauma differs between people because some may not be traumatized at all even though they have witnessed the same experiences. It affects everyone differently. I learned that trauma-informed teaching practices include preparations to help students with trauma. For example, teachers are prepared to help students who go through suicidal thoughts or abuse.

    A connection I made with the articles about trauma is when I was a student, my English teacher told us to write down a traumatic experience or a bad day that we went through. If we did not feel comfortable we could either draw a symbol of the experience or choose to not participate at all. Afterwards, my teacher would tell the class on the count of three to rip up our paper. I can see myself doing this in my own ELA class. It creates a space to help students with their social and emotional learning. Furthermore, in my class I would have students come up with their own short story where the main character experiences trauma. This gives students an opportunity to talk about their own trauma without others knowing the main character relates to their own personal life. Lastly, I want to be a trusting teacher where students can easily approach and talk to me about anything and everything. I am always here for them.

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    • Hi Crystal!
      It is so important to have at least a vague plan for what you are going to do to address trauma in your classroom and with your students; you shared your plan here and steps that you want to take to get a certain outcome. I think that everything you addressed is great and that your end goal, to be a trusted teacher that students can easily approach, is admirable.
      This is a great example for us to look at as we all begin to also form our own classroom plans to address trauma in our classrooms for thanks for sharing!!

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  30. Hello! My name is Chandler and I am currently working towards obtaining a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Mathematics at California State University, Long Beach. After reading the articles “Confronting Inequity/The Trauma We Don’t See” and “If We Aren’t Addressing Racism, We Aren’t Addressing Trauma” by Dena Simmons, I am reminded of the trials, tribulations, and trauma our future students may be facing. I believe it is incredibly crucial for us, as future educators, to be aware of the possible traumatic events our students may have gone through or may be going through while being a student in our class. Often times, it is assumed that when a child is performing well in school and has a smile on their face, that their life is put together and there is nothing to be concerned about regarding their home life. However, as Dena Simmons states, “to the outside world, I may look as if I am thriving—winning awards, speaking nationally, and writing a book—but underneath it all, I am still on my healing journey, still putting myself back together.” This is important to keep in mind, being that our students may be acing every test, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any healing taking place in that person’s life. We also need to look out for our students who are less engaged in school, as this is a telling sign of a student who is experiencing/has experienced trauma. I believe that educators hold a far greater role than simply teaching students curriculum; it is our responsibility to check on the well-being of our students, offer our support, and to guide them through their challenging adolescent years.
    I found it very interesting to read about Simmons’ thought that perhaps her twin sister’s chronic illness is a product of the stressors and trauma they faced as children. It’s crazy to think that two people who experienced the same horrific events may process and cope with them in such different ways. While Simmons is very much so still healing from these events, the trauma manifests in very different ways for her than it may for others. There are a large variety of situations that brought students trauma, and it is important as future educators, to be aware of these numerous causes; one of these causes being racial biases and assumptions. Simmons states, “to ensure that all children, especially Black youth, have the privilege to live full lives, educators must confront racism and the resulting trauma from it.” I strongly agree with this statement and feel it is crucial to acknowledge the trauma our students may face, that may be stemming from years of being a victim of racism and racist policies.

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  31. Hello everyone! My name is Jocelin and I’m currently working to attain my Single Subject Teaching Credential from CSULB in Social Science. After reading the articles, “Let’s Start with Heartbreak” by Elizabeth Dutro and “Becoming Unstuck” by Stephanie Jones and Karen Spector, I realize how the notion of trauma is nuanced and more complicated to define. For many educators it can be daunting to recognize that a student has experienced trauma either created by social systems or through other negative experiences. It is important to realize though that we are not alone and instead we can look at, “a team of colleagues and family members and, possibly, community members to provide those children with the support they need and deserve” (Dutro, 331). While students may be looking solely at us to confide in, we are not alone. It is imperative that we seek the right people to help us support our students to the best of our abilities, but also to remember that students are more than their trauma. It is necessary to recognize what students can do and to continue supporting them without making their sole identity one of trauma.

    When helping students who have experienced a traumatic event, the best place to start is to discuss and reflect on what happened. Both Jones and Spector highlight the significant impact that the Playhouse has had on a community of majority immigrant Mexican and African American families. Here is a place for young children to feel safe, which allows room for children to allow themselves to be vulnerable. The clubs that students are allowed to participate in allow them to understand more complex issues and trauma that they themselves may not recognize. Using this system allows students to learn in a safe environment how they have been affected by trauma created by social systems. I think creating a safe space is always necessary to allow students to be vulnerable, which we can replicate in our classrooms by adding a space for books or sitting. Doing this we can help students overcome their trauma and make room for them to be themselves.

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  32. Hello Everyone! My name is Priscilla and I am a current student at California State University, Long Beach in the Single Subject Credential Program in the area of Physical Education. Upon reading two of the articles, I came to learn more about the different aspects of trauma and the focus of educators to lead the way in approaching it critically and compassionately. Some considering trauma or human suffering as more a physical and emotional pain that is either individual or collective in nature while others see it in a larger or smaller scale or relate it to their own personal experiences. Some aspects include the biological-psychological impacts of trauma and others include mainly more of an emotional and material impact. What I found was interesting was that Dutro states that “engaging with trauma narratives focused critical discussions and projects that positioned students now, or in the future to bear witness and respond with compassion and non-judgement to trauma narratives they will surely encounter.” Educators are emphasizing that it is important to change these life experiences from being too much info, not appreciated, too much needed info, that is complex and real-life events that may happen in students’ lives. Golden states Trauma can “include both large-scale, collectively felt events… and small-scale, personal experiences—of loss, violence, displacement, and oppression” (Dutro, 2017, p. 327). And regardless of which kind or degree, it can lead to stress and worry that can interrupt the learning process unfortunately. Understanding and navigating trauma is understood as a cognitive function. Within this framing, a trauma-informed approach “positions self-regulation as a core developmental strength for children”. To successfully support young learners who have experienced overwhelming incidents, schooling must prepare them to be developmentally prepared. I agree that your mental abilities and strengths can help guide you through difficult situations and learning how to overcome and continuing pushing forward can be a skill acquired through development and maturing. As teachers we have to realize that children live through many different life experiences that can lead to trauma, or being affecting by something profound, in different forms. There needs to be more understanding instead of judging and assuming. It is important as teachers to be supportive, listen to our student’s needs and provide resources. We have all been impacted by different life situations in different degrees and must understand these experiences help shape us and our stories. Being compassionate towards our students helps to build resilience in our students, our classrooms, and our communities.

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    • Hi, Priscilla. My name is Rebekah Nichols and I am a student in the Ed.D. in Instructional Leadership program at Hunter College in NYC.

      Thank you for your post. I especially appreciated your highlighting of Dutro’s (2017) assertion that “traumas … include both large-scale, collectively felt events … and small-scale, personal experiences — of loss, violence, displacement, and oppression,” any of which, as you point out, can have negative consequences on students’ experiences in the classroom (p. 327). One thing that struck me when reading this quote was the ways in which these different types of trauma can intersect with each other, often intensifying their impacts. For example, the past year we have experienced a collective trauma due to the pandemic. Yet the degree to which this has impacted individuals can vary wildly. Though all students have experienced a degree of trauma due to drastic schedule changes or the challenges of distance learning, some have also experienced personal losses — the loss of a parent’s job, the loss of a home, or the loss of a loved one. I think that educators will be navigating the long-term consequences of both collective and individual traumas relating to covid-19 for years to come. It is important to remember that though we have all been impacted, our experiences have not all been the same. That is why it is so crucial for teachers to provide students with the space to share their individual stories. Though the impacts vary from individual to individual, our shared trauma creates the empathy we need to process the “shared experiences of the tenderness and fragility of human life” while also acknowledging the reality that “human-constructed disparities impact lives very differently” (Dutro, 2017, p. 333). The story we hold in common is a gateway to understanding diverse experiences and critiquing a system that perpetuates such inequities.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Hello! My name is Wilson Wu and I am in the Single Subject Credential Program at CSULB. My discipline is in Mandarin and I’m planning on teaching at the high school level.. After reading the articles, I feel that I have a better understanding of what trauma is and how it can affect student learning. Most of the time, we tend to associate trauma with an illness that needs to be treated. I find that trauma can come in many different forms — psychological, emotional, physical, etc. Physical trauma are easier to spot and be dealt with; however, psychological and emotional trauma can be hard to detect, which leaves more scar for the person who is suffering from it. I’ve seen many time that people would judge and make assumptions of those who has trauma related symptoms. As a culturally responsive teacher, I believe it is our duty and responsibility to educate ourselves on this topic, which will allow us to show more empathy toward students that are going through the many challenges of life. Being supportive and understanding should be of the utmost importance in teaching a class. As Dr. Golden keeps emphasizing in our class, we should be aware of how our positionality biases epistemology. True, without first evaluating whether or not the beliefs we hold are true, it can be detrimental to our understanding and our approach to fostering a culturally responsive classroom.

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    • I agree with you 100% that we see trauma as an illness that needs to be treated rather than being empathetic. All students go through traumas an as teacher is is our job to be there for our students and create a culturally responsive classroom like you said. Our classrooms will be much more productive to addressing trauma in the classroom of students feel comfortable and confident in the classroom rather than feel like they will be judged or had assumptions made about them. This is some great insight!

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  34. My name is Abdul Rehman Siddiqui and I am a student at Hunter College, studying Educational Leadership. In spite of receiving training on trauma-informed instruction, some readings this week helped me better understand how little I know about trauma. The number of 13 out of every 30 students in the classroom experiencing three or more traumatic experiences (Stevens, 2012) was alarming, to say the least. However, I truly connected with the idea of a trauma-informed approach because it advocates the creation of “space for students to build and sustain healthy, meaningful relationships with peers and teachers” (Perry & Daniels, 2016). Unlike some other approaches I have read in the classroom, this one seems to emphasize centering what we can do after students have been exposed to trauma, whereas most of the work I saw in my training seemed to focus more on avoiding the occurrence of trauma. That, while seeming like a noble goal, seems to be a distant ideal when statistics like the one above exist. For that reason, instead of seeing some ideal “end-goal,” I find it more actionable to have the approach of setting micro-goals and macro-goals (Brunzell, Stokes & Waters, 2019), which I think might help to promote a growth mindset in teachers who may (perhaps understandably) see trauma-informed instruction as difficult to implement in the classroom. The key distinction that I feel I would want teachers to understand, and that I want to better understand myself, is Golden’s (2020) criticism that the biomedical model may be simplifying the definition of trauma in a manner that “reinscribe[s] hegemonies and work[s] to further marginalize some youth.” For that reason, I want to better understand how to implement the approach in a manner that does not treat the student as “deficient” but instead works on understanding the situations that created that trauma and seeing their response as a reaction to an event (Smyth & Greyber, 2013).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Abdul,
      I strongly agree with your response on setting micro and macro goals for our students instead of an end-goal. I believe that is something that is both doable and approachable for students. For a student who has gone through trauma, taking baby steps would be the best way to heal from a situation and help from an educator’s role and perspective. Setting smaller goals in a short period of time is something that the student can actually see being achieved rather than a goal to be reached a year from then. Little by little is the best way we can help our students. I also agree that creating a safe space for students is extremely important. Some students may not have a safe space at all aside from the classroom, therefore we should do our very best to keep that space as comfortable, loving, and safe as possible. Thank you Abdul

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Abdul,

      I thought it was interesting how you mentioned how significant it is to be able to help students when they have experienced trauma already. I completely agree with you and it is important for us to be able to help our students in any way we can. Being able to work with students to understand the situation is a great idea and I think it would also be a great idea to have students express themselves about how they feel if they choose to do so. Any little positive aspect of being human will help students in a big way. Well done.

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    • Hello Abdul!

      I was also very aware about how little I knew about trauma and how there can be more discussion in the classroom with this subject. It’s interesting the way you have been approached to trauma as an avoidance instead of a topic of what we can do after students have been exposed to trauma. I look back to my own experiences in being school, and the topic of trauma is never really mentioned and only came forth in intimate settings between friends or peers. At least in my experience, there did not seem to be that much effort for students to actively practice in connecting with each on this. Which is why I agree with your statement about setting micro-goals and macro-goals instead of seeing an “end-goal” in this topic for students. Understanding students will be a continuous practice, and knowing how to approach and understand a situation, will only model towards your students how to understand their own narrative and understanding of their classmates.

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    • Hello Abdul,
      I really enjoyed reading what you had to say about the articles. I too was shocked to read that 13 out of 30 students experience three or more traumatic experiences. This implies that when working in a classroom, almost half of our students will have experience with trauma. This idea is scary because I want to be able to help my students in any way possible. I agree that the articles focused more on what we as teachers can do for our students who have traumatic experiences. Not only is it important as a teacher to prevent it from happening, but we must also help those who have already been exposed to it. Thank you for sharing!

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    • Hi Abdul,
      I agree that setting micro and macro-goals would be incredibly helpful for educators who might be feeling overwhelmed or even apprehensive about implementing trauma-informed curricula into their classroom environment. I think it can be even more difficult for teachers who might be dealing with their own trauma as well. However, after reading Dena Simmons’ articles, it is abundantly clear that trauma-informed instruction is necessary for the classroom and like you pointed about from Noah Asher Golden’s article, trauma is not solely biomedical and I applaud that you want to work towards learning about different situations that create trauma.

      On a different note, Hunter College is one of the schools I am applying to for Grad School. It was a pleasure getting to read work from someone who is a student from the college!

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  35. Hello, my name is Lesley Huizar and I am currently enrolled in the Single Subject Teaching Credential Program for English at California State University, Long Beach. After reading the articles I have a better understanding of the ways in which trauma affects learning and what I can do as a future educator to empower students in my care. I was shocked after learning how many students are affected by trauma and what little support they have received from teachers and staff. Students may “act out” or even overachieve in order to deal with these unresolved issues. Unfortunately, those students who do not behave are usually seen as “bad” and do not receive the help that they desperately need. After working with the youth for a couple of years, I have learned that they will only open up people who they see as genuine. One of the ways in which I will support all students is by making sure their voices are heard and also get an opportunity to read about people who they can relate to. As a woman of color, I have always felt the most safe in classrooms that would take into account my experiences and my life. I will encourage students to bring in their experiences and knowledge to the classroom so they can feel that they are a part of the academic world. Dr Golden mentioned a program called Conexiónes where students got the support they needed in order to succeed academically. “Their previous schools were sites of trauma in which they were positioned as “bad kids.” At Conexiónes, they are not bad kids, but young scholars in challenging circumstances that may have impacted their ability to succeed in and through school.” (Golden, 6) The way in which we connect and speak to students really makes a difference in their life. If we believe in them then they will eventually believe in themselves.

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  36. Hello everyone,
    My name is Dyana Jocol and I am in the Single Subject Credential Program at CSULB studying to be an English teacher. I am extremely appreciative at the fact that these articles exist and there is awareness being spread upon trauma. This topic is sensitive, yet so important to discuss because as future educators, we will be surrounding ourselves around adolescents who are going through things that some of us may never be able to understand. Adolescent years are the years where emotional traumatic experiences can cause the greatest harm due to the cognitive development of a teenager and for some, long-lasting emotional damage. After reading these articles, I have learned that trauma can resolute from almost anything that is harmful physical, emotionally, and psychologically. What may seem as a minor event may be a huge scar for someone that can result to trauma, and that is something else that I have learned both through these articles and through experience. I myself have experienced traumatic events and have found that the psychological and emotional experiences have scarred the most. As a future educator, I believe experiencing this first-hand can be an asset for students who are going through or have gone through traumatic events. As a human being, I understand that there are things that simply won’t vanish, however, anyone can heal, and I truly believer an educator can be a part of this healing process. As educators, we see our students for nearly eight hours in a day, signifying how important our presence is to our students. With that amount of time, we can do so much more for our students than simply “teach the subject,” we can be the role-model they may need for guidance. Another thing that I learned from the articles is that as educators, we cannot simply ignore and pretend every student is 100% there emotionally in class. Some students are going through things, and learning about Shakespeare, for example, may not be the first thing on their mind. Instead, these students might be wondering what they will do to resolve their issues at home or in their personal lives. As I previously stated, we are spending a huge amount of time with our students, therefore we should get to know our students well enough to know when something is off or not right. In my future practices, I hope that I can be the teacher who can immediately pick up when one of my students is upset, and be there to remind my students that someone in their world truly cares.

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    • Hi Dyana,

      I wholeheartedly agree with you that the adolescent years can be so impactful to an individual’s emotional well-being. Unfortunately, many teachers forget that these students are real human beings that have a lot going on at home and assume a student might slack off from their school work because they simply don’t care. Most of the time there is a factor that is preventing the student from being academically successful. You made a great point that teachers are with students for most of their day and I would like to include that for some students they may not have an adult to reach out for help or support. Teachers need to consider approaching students’ trauma critically and compassionately where we can make a significant difference to their life.

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  37. Hola, my name is Mayra Moreno-Muratalla. I am in the Single Subject Credential Program at CSULB to become a Spanish teacher. As a Mexican immigrant, I connected with some of the topics in the articles. I attended elementary and middle school in Mexico, where I learned about Spanish white scholars, European white inventors, Spanish ideas, and mostly white theories (Simmons). I was never taught about the native’s genocides. The school agenda was to install in us the idea of the natives been savages, uneducated, and the Spanish were our saviors. When I moved to the US at the age of 16, the narrative was the same. In High School, I did not learn about any Latinx scholars, and the perception of Hispanics was all negative; we were portrait as being in gangs or working only as the maid, janitor, or gardener. I believe that growing up, we all suffer some trauma. New teachers must understand the concept of being culturally responsible by “Realizing that social and emotional dimensions have long been ignored, there is now, finally, attention paid to broader conceptions of young people’s lived experience.” (Golden). The article states that the stress of racial prejudice affects our student’s life tremendously, and traumas can be a good or bad stressor. Students find different ways to cope by over/underachieving. As a teacher, we have the responsibility “to recognize the diverse manifestations of trauma in our students and stop lumping them under one umbrella. Our responsibility is to create policies, practices, and school environments that do not traumatize or retraumatize our students.” (Simmons) As a Spanish teacher, I am committed to supporting my students by getting to know them, discovering their gifts, paying attention to their needs. Also, I am committed to providing my students a safe place.

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  38. Hello everyone my name is Eduardo Rodriguez Toro from the California State University of Long Beach studying to be a High School English teacher.

    Reading Let’s Start With Heartbreak by E. Dutro, Trauma has a significant impact on students. I always believe that everyone experiences trauma differently and something that might cause me Trauma will not affect anyone else at all or it might affect them at a different level. Dutro says, “I contend that we cannot know how “trauma” will be perceived and interpreted by others and who gets to categorize whose experiences as traumatic.” because he wants readers to understand that it is difficult to understand a person level of traumatic experience. I believe that understanding this aspect is significant because as future educator we will be making an impact on the lives on many students and we have to do our best to help students in any way possible, especially when it comes to trauma. Talking about trauma in the classroom will allow us a educator to help our students and allow them to get a better sense of trauma in general. I believe that each and every one of us experiences trauma in our lives at any point and at different levels. Knowing this fact will help us to have a better understanding of the possibilities of trauma that our future students will be experiencing which will allow us to approach the topic of trauma carefully. We must be aware that students can be delicate and fragile at a young age and anything we say or do can affect them in a negative way but we can also affect them in a positive way. I personally have been working as a tennis coach for five years and throughout those years I have experience students with different unreadable levels of traumatic experiences. I do my best to help them in anyway that I am capable of and to this day many of those students still keep in touch with me. That tells me I am doing something right. I would hope so. Nonetheless I still have much to learn about trauma and any advice is always welcomed.

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  39. Hi everyone! My name is Stephanie Luna and I am a part of the Single Subject Credential Program at California State University, Long Beach. After earning my teaching credential I plan to become a high school English teacher. After reading the articles I have a better understanding of how trauma can affect students’ capability to learn and how to approach students who need the support and resources from their teachers and the school district. It’s astonishing to read about how many students have little resources and support they receive from their teachers and school. The article that stood out to me the most was Elizabeth Dutro’s article, “Let’s start with heartbreak” where she explores the complexities of considering trauma in ELA classrooms and the importance to foster pedagogies because teachers need to approach students’ trauma critically and compassionately. Being in an ELA classroom students are encouraged to write vulnerably about their past experiences which can be a touchy subject for some students who have had a rough past or who come from different backgrounds than their classmates have. Dutro expresses how her research on “trauma and how it functions in classrooms draws on ideas from humanities scholarship in trauma studies, an area of research that focuses on representation of physical and emotional pain in art, literature, the media, or other accounts of individual and collective human suffering” (Dutro, 2017, pg. 327). Dutro is not clear and explicit about defining what trauma is, but she begins questioning the result of tough or heavy experiences that are present in classrooms and the teaching practices that are called for to treat these experiences. As teachers we need to be careful and mindful of how we approach heavy and loaded discussions, especially that involve trauma. Dutro explains, “If we are going to use it [trauma] in relation to children’s lives and literacies, we have to mindfully heed and navigate its consequences” (Dutro, 2017, pg. 327). For example, if we ask students to write a narrative about their literacy journey as a student it can bring up touchy subject that teachers need to consider before assigning it to students. Teachers need to ask themselves “what can I do for my students who are willing to be vulnerable in their writings and how can I provide meaningful feedback that supports them academically and socially/emotionally?”

    As a future English teacher I connected with the article’s regarding trauma because trauma or tragedy is often brought up lightly in ELA classroom’s. For example, when asking students to write a personal narrative or poem, it is important for teachers to be sensitive to student’s well-being because there may be red flags present in their writings. A teacher must address what is next for their student if they are going through a difficult time. As teachers not only are we there to support students academically, but we must offer support for their social and emotional well-being. As a teacher I will constantly advocate for my students to get the necessary resources and support on campus because it will help students’ personal and academic growth. Resources such as school psychologists and offering elective classes that support students’ well-being. Creating classes that offer support are especially important after students will return to school from COVID restrictions and will be expected to carry on like a pandemic never happened. Teachers will continue to be everyday advocates for students to help them become successful human beings.

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  40. Greetings from NYC! My name is Kayla Maryles and I am a student in the Ed.D. in Instructional Leadership program at CUNY Hunter College. Reading through the suggested materials had me reflecting on how my personal and professional experiences have led me to explore and grapple with the concepts of justice, equity, and anti-racism work in education. The majority of my educational and professional decisions have been grounded in opportunities where I can make a positive impact in other people’s futures, but I have not deeply thought about how the systems that I am fighting against are simultaneously causing trauma to students and educators in the present. Simmons (2020) recognized that an important part of doing equity work is for educators to confront racism and create educational communities where all students are affirmed and valued. “Educators, and especially white teachers, have to roll up their sleeves, look within themselves, sit with discomfort, reflect on what they can do better, and then live and teach with racial justice as their guiding principle” (Simmons, 2020). As a white educator, I want to use my privileges and experiences to create shifts in the current educational paradigm, so that those who feel voiceless hear their voices amplified, listened to, and respected. Just like Simmons mentioned, I am here with “my sleeves rolled up” in humility; continuing to do my part in taking on the challenging work to disrupt the trauma and unjust systems.

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    • Hi Kayla,

      First off, power to you! I think everything you said was very powerful. As educators and part of the larger populace, we each have our own targeted approach when it comes to education and making systemic change. What you noted about acknowledging the privileges afforded to you but also striving to create shifts to amplify, listen, and respect students voices is critical. By pointing the different privileges we all may have wither it’s easy to see or not, can help illuminate the various disparities in treatment we all face. By providing a space to build community can help students know that have a place where their stories will be heard and acknowledged. I am eager to see what you have in store for your students.
      We have some work to do to help push for change. Look forward to seeing and learning from you as a fellow educator.

      In solidarity from Los Angeles, California,
      Arnoldo Sanchez R.

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    • Hi Kayla. Greetings from California! I gravitated towards the two articles written by Dena Simmons like you did and I agree with her when she said that white educators have to “sit with discomfort” and “reflect on what they can do better” because it is not easy, and frankly it shouldn’t be. This is hard work and students, particularly students of color, are dealing with trauma that myself as white woman can’t begin to fathom. If I don’t work to confront racism head on; if I don’t create space for student’s voices to be heard and, like you said, affirmed and valued, then I am doing them a disservice. At the end of the day, my work is about and for them, not me. It will be hard, but it will be good. Thank you for sharing. Also, I’d love to hear more about Hunter. That is one of the grad schools I am applying to for Fall 2022.

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  41. (Adam Brulhardt) I engaged with the Golden 2020 article, and found it very interesting. The idea of trauma-informed practices and its intersection with many other equity-oriented pedagogies that have come up in my career. It reminds me of culturally-relevant pedagogy, asset-based education (as opposed to deficit-based ones), socio-emotional learning, as well as reality pedagogy, which I have been acquainted with through reading “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood.” All of them to some extent address the backgrounds that students come from in different ways, one of those ways is addressing the trauma those students have gone through. The authors argue that trauma need not be defined in only medical and biological ways as responses for survival, but also in terms of societal and emotional contexts that students come from, which is why it intersects nicely with other pedagogies. The article says, “Further, this approach assumes a static, culture-free, and ahistorical understanding of normative behavior.
    That is, what is considered an appropriate way of being or a valid response to a challenging situation is not seen as socially or culturally mediated. Yet racial, gendered, or class bias, among others, shape what behaviors are deemed appropriate (or for whom they are warranted or permitted), leading scholars (e.g.,Blitz, Anderson, & Saastamoinen, 2016) to call for culturally responsive trauma-informed pedagogies. I found it interesting that when trauma-informed practices are reduced to look at individual deficits without looking at the context and ecology and new appropriate ways of being for certain groups of people, how does this then become not culturally responsive or even could enforce ways of teaching that are not anti-racist? So, I think that it is not enough to be trauma-informed, but also understanding what trauma means in different ecologies and contexts. In what ways are we as teachers in school settings contributing to trauma that students face in terms of their own self-worth and notion of intelligence within schools that are systematically favoring dominant groups. In other ways, if these systems are looking at student’s behavior due to their own identity and culture as effects of trauma, then we are engaging in a deficit-model that is not culturally responsive, and we are interpreting anything that is “other” not fitting into “proper school culture.” This sort of related to what Emdin talks about in his book about “symbolic violence” against the neoindigenous youth” That, part of trauma that students face, is not just from home life, but from school life as well, when it does not affirm their identities and cultures.

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  42. Christine O. — After reading the two Simmons (2020) articles, the authors do not specifically define trauma. Rather, trauma is expressed in “being made to feel worthless and unseen, of being made inhuman” (Simmons, 2020). I think that after reading these articles, trauma-informed educational practices highlight the importance of bringing back the human experience into learning. How can we, as educators, consider where our students are coming from? How can we, as educators, provide a *safe* space for students? How can we, as educators, support students even if we may not have experienced the trauma they have? The Simmons (2020) articles bring home the idea that trauma manifests itself differently for each person. As educators, we need to do our best to “support our students who may be at risk for trauma by getting to know them” (Simmons, 2020). The intersection of trauma-informed instruction and anti-racism is the intentionality of our actions as educators. Simmons (2020) pointed out that it’s not enough to be passive when confronting racism. It is important to be intentional in the engagement of anti-racism work. It is important to acknowledge, name, and dismantle the systems of oppression that work against students that have been and continue to be marginalized. Similarly, as educators, we cannot support students who have experienced trauma if we do not know them. These readings are a not so gentle reminder that students carry so much on their shoulders when they come through the door, let’s unpack together.

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  43. My name is Inna Kruvi. I am a student at Hunter College, CUNY, studying Educational Leadership. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the rare times in my teaching career when our school collectively engaged in conversation about trauma and trauma-informed instruction. Of course, over the years, there have been isolated instances when a student’s individual traumatic experience became the focus of concern and action. However, there have not been a concentrated school effort to participate in any consistent and deliberate practices of trauma-informed pedagogy. The readings this week highlighted the importance of the all-school approach to understanding how trauma impacts learning. Golden (2020) points out that trauma-informed pedagogy assumes that what matters for students is “whether the educators they see every day are part of their care network” (p. 76). While building relationships in individual classrooms is an important component of the trauma-informed approach, the impact of practices can only be fully experienced within the broader contexts of the school and community. In order for the necessary mindset and paradigm shift to occur, the change must happen on individual staff and collective organizational levels. To re-shape and re-focus school culture, practices, and policies away from the framing of trauma that “overwhelmingly locates the problem in the students and pathologizes them” (Golden, 2020) to understanding what happened to a child, rather than focusing on their conduct alone. The sociocultural understanding of trauma necessitates a partnership between teachers, parents, and other adults within the community.

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  44. Troy B. -The reading that really captured my attention that reflected my own interactions with students inside and outside the class room was Moving Towards Sociocultural Understandings of Trauma-Informed Praxis article (Golden, 2020). The article does a great job delivering both the definition of trauma and the use of the recommended approach of a trauma informed pedagogy. Spotlighting trauma as both being identified as physiological and having physiological responses by students. Utilizing a trauma informed pedagogy educators and/or administrators can help students develop self regulating practices as a coping tool when triggered (Golden, 2020). Having the two students articulate how this education space which uses a trauma informed and humanizing pedagogy impacts their perception of self and educators really highlights the efficacy of the trauma informed pedagogy. I do see an intersection between trauma informed pedagogy and anti-racism. The intersection lies in both ways educators working with an anti racism framework will have to acknowledge their privilege, see through the oppressors lens, and/or willing to use their privilege as a tool for action. I see this trauma informed pedagogy in the same light. If you are an educator who has been fortunate to not experience any trauma or has, using your experience and privilege in being able to work through that trauma to understand your students and acknowledge their position is important. Important to retention, graduation, and growth mindset Commit and build authentic relationships with students by humanizing their experience in every interaction. As a mental health counselor in higher education these readings really highlight some useful aspects of my own profession that are very much effective working with a diverse population of students.

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  45. Christina Rodefeld – I engaged with the Jones and Spector (2017) text, “Becoming unstuck: Racism and misogyny as traumas diffused in the ordinary.” What stood out to me in this story of trauma and healing was the idea that a child’s emotional crisis shouldn’t be seen as an isolated event. Rather, it can, and often does, result from continuous and ongoing trauma. In the case of Alexandra, the focus of the article, the ongoing trauma took the form of everyday misogyny. She had what many adults would term a “meltdown” upon being labeled overweight at school by the school nurse. The authors wrote that “Alexandra’s crisis that day didn’t result from one incident, from one time when she stood on a scale” (p. 309). Rather, it was a culmination of a host of other misogynist experiences that built up to lead Alexandra to her breaking point. While we as educators might think of our school spaces as free of discrimination and other forms of ongoing trauma for students, this is not the case. Many of our minoritized and marginalized students are experiencing all kinds of ongoing trauma both in and out of school, and we as educators need to recognize this fact and learn to address it effectively. One step to addressing the needs of students is to understand that such outbursts as Alexandra’s aren’t students being “problem students” or “just acting up again.” There is a function to every behavior, and it is incumbent upon us as educators to hear student stories to understand where feelings are coming from and to begin to address them.

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  46. These readings truly captured the importance of antiracist education in fostering safe learning environments for each child and the value in expanding the narrow focus of many SEL interventions. By framing the role of SEL programs as being to teach a range of SEL skills and support young people through emotional intensity that may arise during these times is consistent with many early childhood implementations of SEL, but isn’t always fully developed (or supported in teachers’ professional learning) during moments in the classroom.
    While the analysis of a number of identities was particularly strong in these works, I find it difficult to talk about trauma and not talk about the enormous impact of poverty on children, particularly during this time of rampant and increasing inequality, homelessness, unemployment, and precarity for vast swaths of the American population. Children who are poor are more likely to experience so many of the factors outlined in these articles: chronic stress (housing instability, food insecurity, lack of access to health care), PTSD, and lower EF skills are all nearly synonymous with early childhood poverty.

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  47. Daniel Hernandez – In the Golden (2020) article, hearing the narratives from students themselves that experience an SEL school and classroom environment underscores for teachers that trauma-informed work that provides student voice (and listens to this voice) is critical to the process. The meaning-making approach of listening to stories of trauma, reflecting on their meaning, and being “critical witnesses” places educators and students in positions of vulnerability but does so as a necessary step towards student and teacher understanding. Educators cannot make the mistake of assuming that they will fix trauma through a predetermined set of guidelines. In this same light, having conversations with students opens a door for us to recognize that trauma is not the same, nor does it have the same effect on each of our students.

    Having the flexibility to adjust SEL instruction in ways that support student needs coincides with Simmons’ (2020) request for educators to avoid being passive. Being an anti-racist educator requires us to welcome challenging conversations with our students and confront issues of inequity present in our classrooms. We cannot develop a trauma-informed pedagogy without genuine and open teacher-student dialogue. However, as Golden (p.71) notes, “trauma itself cannot be reduced to a narrative…”. Instead, we should use these narratives as tools to understanding how different traumatic experiences influence our students’ behaviors and performances and then use this knowledge to construct SEL lessons that support them.

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  48. Hello everyone! My name Olubunmi (or Bunmi, pronounced boo-me) and I am in my second year of the Hunter EdD program. I am also a sixth-grade math teacher at a public school in Brooklyn, NY. My previous experience with trauma-informed instruction is completing a self-paced training on trauma-informed practices. All teachers within the New York City Department of Education are expected to complete the training by the end of the school year.

    Unlike many of the other mandated trainings I have completed, I actually enjoyed the one on trauma-informed instruction. I appreciated the quality and quantity of resources that were shared. I do not think my instructional practices within the classroom have changed drastically since completing the training. The most significant change is that I am more conscious of whether students say or do something that indicates they are experiencing or re-experiencing trauma. Perry and Daniels (2016) acknowledged they were unaware whether the teachers who participated in their pilot study actually implemented the practices they learned about through the professional development sessions. I am interested to see if there are any longitudinal studies about trauma-informed instruction, from the lens of the educators learning to enhance their instruction or from the lens of students experiencing the instruction.

    While I was reading the resources for this week’s class, I kept trying to find a definition of the word trauma since it is being used so frequently as of late. The authors of the articles that I read never defined trauma. I have seen from experience that commonly used words can mean something different to members of the same educational community (empathy, equity, rigor, differentiation, antiracism, etc.). It would be helpful if the various stakeholders within a school, school district, or educational organization have a common definition of trauma. This will help with recognizing, naming, and addressing trauma.

    I drew a connection to Dr. Simmons’s realization about her overachievement being a response to the trauma she’s experienced and it being a way for her to mask the pain she’s experienced from trauma in the past. I am also an overachiever. I plan on taking time over spring break and during the summer to be “still” and reflect on what has contributed to me being an overachiever. I also want to reflect on whether my overachievement is linked to any unresolved past trauma. One other connection I made was to Dr. Simmon’s charge for educators who have repressed their own trauma to take care of themselves in order to better serve their students.

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  49. Andrew Wintner – The authors define trauma informed instruction as pedagogy that acknowledges as one if its central tenets the reduction of biomedical stress that is caused by unequal outcomes. These traumas can be large scale, such as collectively felt events such as Covid-19, or small scale, such as personal loss, violence, displacement or oppression. For years, the response to trauma-informed pedagogy was solely reliant on socio-emotional curricula. These curricula were and are very important in allowing students to begin to unpack their feelings and identify the trauma that may have caused them. However, this stand alone approach to trauma, did not permeate into instruction, nor the mindset of schools.

    The papers posed here call for educators to see their students and allow them to share their stories through writing and other projects. Moreover, trauma informed instruction pushes pedagogues to see students as individuals; to understand that exposure to the same stimulus may have tangibly different impacts and effects on individual students. To not allow for that space to take hold, teachers are only furthering the trauma students have experienced.

    Finally, too often when trauma-informed pedagogy is discussed, not enough time is spent digging into the paradigms that educators must embody. Trauma-informed pedagogy is a mindset which intersects deeply with critical race theory, DisCrit and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies. Central to all of these ideologies is the belief that individuals have a lived history that is unique and influenced by the Eurocentric norm imposed on them. Furthermore, these ideologies are steeped in the belief that individuals bring inherent strengths into their space. Therefore, true trauma-informed pedagogy goes well beyond a SEL checkin during advisory, rather it is a way of being in your classroom space that allows students to be celebrated for who they are.

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  50. Hello! My name is Susie and I am currently in the Single-Subject Credential Program at CSULB. My content are is Spanish and I would like to teach in the high school level. As a future educator, students will come into my classroom and I will not know anything about them, but it is important to know that some of these students have experienced trauma and even though we can’t see, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Trauma can affect students differently and some students will lash out but others tend to be quieter, but as educators we have to be understanding and we have to listen to our students and converse with them to see how we can help them. I believe it is important that we try to read the signals because trauma can come in various forms and we have to pay attention to those signs. I agree with what Simmons mentioned in the text, “Confronting inequality/The Trauma we don’t see,” “We must also remember that our students do not owe us their trauma for us to believe they deserve healing. Our responsibility is to create policies, practices, and school environments that do not traumatize or retraumatize our students.” This is valuable to know because we want to make sure that our classroom is a safe space for our students and it is important we give them the support that they need. As future educators, it is our responsibility to create culturally responsive teaching, and as a future Spanish teacher, I will dedicate my time to creating a safe space for my students.

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