3 Replies to “8/24 Homework”

  1. Although my teaching practice is always a work in progress, I believe that my intuitive approach has always been trauma-informed. I am glad this year to have found a name for this aspect of my teaching philosophy. I was interested to learn in the framework discussion that there is no agreed-upon definition in the literature for “trauma”.

    Hurricane Katrina happened in the first week of my first semester teaching after graduating with my PhD from LSU in 2005. My cat and I weathered out the storm with some neighbors and their animals. After one week of classes, Katrina struck and LSU shut down completely for a week. One week after the storm, LSU opened up again as if it were the first week of school, allowing students to drop and add courses for another week. The class membership and demographics dramatically changed overnight with the influx of displaced students from New Orleans, Slidell, and the surrounding areas.

    I returned to school knowing that my students had just been seriously traumatized. I had experienced trauma in the storm as well. These traumas are as varied and unique as the individuals that experienced them. The students from New Orleans and surrounding areas lost everything and been forced to relocate overnight. I began my classes anew, two weeks after the semester start date, teaching from a place of compassion and empathy. In this way, trauma informed my teaching practices from the very beginning as a new PhD.

    When we shut down in Spring 2020 for the Covid-19 pandemic, I began having flashbacks to Hurricane Katrina. The difference between me now and myself in 2005 is that I have several years of teaching experience to fall back on (both f2f and online). In particular, my 7 years of experience teaching/designing online courses allowed me to stay calm and focus on student needs.

    My strategies for trauma-informed teaching online that I plan to carry forward in my courses include the following:
    • Students will post at least two entries in “mistakes I learned from…” blog. This will help them embrace the idea that mistakes are how we learn. Students learn to look at mistakes as a learning opportunity, rather than a source of shame.
    • Students will post an entry in the “Mathematics, gender, and culture” blog. This will be an opportunity for them to discover developments in mathematics outside of the European-male historical paradigm.
    • “Questions about life, the universe and everything” discussion space. This is an ungraded discussion space for students to talk about whatever is on their mind.
    • Provide flexibility within carefully structured deadlines. I like to scaffold the student experiences, but understand some may need an extension now and then.
    • Emphasize learning over testing.
    • Take a portfolio-based approach to learning.
    • Encourage student-self assessment and reflection.
    • Set clear expectations in announcements, modules, and course documents.
    • Set a positive, encouraging tone in announcements and discussions.
    • Let students know I am there to support their learning.
    • Be available and present in Bb discussions and email for homework questions.
    • Encourage students to take a break and move their bodies as needed – video links provided to interesting music, dance, and yoga in a designated “~~~Take a Break!!!~~~~” area in Bb.
    • Offer students extra support via Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate as Virtual Office Hours.
    • Maintain a sense of humor and imagination.

  2. I’d like to add that my online pedagogy is discussion based and asynchronous. In this modality, students collaborate, to co-create and voice knowledge, to experience growth and resilience in learning, and to learn from mistakes.

  3. Sarah — Thanks for sharing your experiences as well as your detailed plans for the fall! You are focused on the well-being of the students. I wonder, considering you experienced the trauma of Katrina and COVID, how are you supporting your well-being?

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