Tip ‘o the Hat to TIP!

I know I am late with this response but it was actually inspiring reading through other participants’ posts and hearing how they are implementing TIP in the classroom. This was a great seminar– it was useful to brush up on some terminology and reinforce my commitment to acknowledging and actively working to mitigate against the reality of trauma in our current climate.

I loved the meditation scripts that were used during our sessions and I plan to use them in my own class – starting classes off with brief mindfulness moments is something I began doing in Spring 2020 and the students expressed a lot of gratitude for this. Along the lines of *giving students control and choices* from the SCEER Framework, I am going to ask them to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of keeping their webcams on or off during our Zoom sessions – they know that I would like everyone to see each other’s faces, but I also understand this can enhance inequalities and I want them to be intentional about and have agency over their educational experience. I am also flexible with deadlines while introducing regularity into the structure and schedule of weekly discussion posts, doing my best to keep the course requirements and rationales above board and as transparent as possible (one of the things we discussed in the session was how hidden administrative requirements can retraumatize students who have had to battle the state for various social services). To this end, we will devote a full session to learning how to navigate Blackboard, CUNYFirst, email, etc, and work to create a climate where there are no stupid questions.

We always open synchronous classes with a brief check-in about how students are doing, and since I am lucky enough to only teach one class this term, I will also schedule more regular one-on-one sessions with students to help them through any more issues they may be experiencing. I will discuss my own self-care routines and make sure students are taking time to unplug and engage in reflective practices as part of their weekly schedules (some smaller assignments actually require this). I am also encouraging students to form bonds with each other outside of class through texting buddies and interactive discussion posts, which is more important now than ever as we remain physically distanced from one another.

Finally, I want to help students understand that TIP principles such as self-care and growth mindset are meaningful in themselves, but don’t go far enough when looking at society from a broader lens. The culture of trauma in which we live is exacerbated by a government that is defunding public education, pouring more money into the military and the police, and vanquishing humanities curricula. Finding ways to fight the system such as learning about and joining protest movements or community-based organizing can generate its own form of collective self-care – I can only care for myself before I care for others, but caring for others helps me care for myself.

TIP practice goals for THE 110. (Acting 1) Fall 2020

Since I teach acting, the foundational tenants of:
Respect, Trust, Connection and Support, Collaboration, Empowerment, Culture & History & Gender, Resilience & Growth & Change … are threads in the fabric we are always weaving.

This workshop showed me that evenmore support might be necessary for me to keep the above flowing. Working to support their ability to be vulnerable and empathic when the rawness of experience these days it a lot for all of us. The coming months are bound to escalate a lot of feelings and fears.

Practices and ideas I am implementing:

1. Looking for and doubling up on positive (confidence building) warm up and connecting exercises – IE: the one below. I often save this one for midterm-ish – but it’s going right up front this semester.


2. Encouraging and assigning individuals to share music that is touching or inspirational to them. (Incorporating it in into our warm up for the day. )

3. Working twice the amount of time on community/ensemble building.

4. Having 1/2 the class rehearse while the the other half works scenes until the final showing of the scenes so all can see and support with positive feedback. So they have work time in class, instead of having to do all rehearsal outside of the class time.)

5. Emphasizing peer support (outside of class time) to foster community.

6. Choosing material (and encouraging them to choose material) that is uplifting and fosters resiliency.

7. Looking for ways to them to do their homework – off of technology – encouraging handwritten notes that can be photographed and uploaded.

TLP homework – Yuliya Shneyderman

In completing this assignment. I am trying to address all of the principles listed on the handout we got from the Columbia School of Social Work.

Physical, emotional, social and academic respect

  • I have provided content warning on videos that I am providing that might be upsetting. I will do the same on my course site on OpenLab.
  • I will allow revisions to work, especially in the Writing Intensive class, but also in any of my classes. Additionally, in my HED 110 class, I already follow an ungrading model with my writing assignments, where students receive full credit if they complete the assignment fully, or are allowed revisions if it’s not complete. This is also true for the scaffolding steps in my HED 230 writing intensive class.
  • In the classes which have a synchronous component, I will have a 10 minute check-in before we begin on course material.

Trustworthiness and transparency

  • I have started to provide the rationale for the assignments I have created. Instead of just writing out the assignment, I’ve added statements like “completing this part of the assignment will help you do …”
  • I am posting links to assignments and due dates in multiple places, and will provide reminders as announcements.

Support and connection

  • I will make use of individual emails more to follow-up with students who are falling behind. This was effective in the Spring of 2020.
  • I will remind students that I am available and there to guide them through this time. I will also stress the other services available at the college for them like the library, writing center, counseling center, etc.

Collaboration and mutuality

  • In the HED 230 class, I have explicitly left some lecture/discussion topics for us to select together by voting.
  • I will facilitate asynchronous discussion through assignments on the discussion board. Additionally, if there is a synchronous component, I will use breakout rooms for students to discuss relevant topics.

Empowerment, voice, choice

  • In my synchronous classes, I will allow students to pick a time for a short break.
  • I allow students to pick their own research topics in my writing intensive class, while at the same time providing some structure by following a theme. Similarly, in HED 110, students will work on investigating the health of their neighborhoods, but they can pick topics to focus on themselves.

Cultural, historic, and gender contexts

  • I already make these contexts as explicit as possible, since they are very relevant to health issues. In particular, we discuss health equity and health disparities. In order to make this more positive and hopeful, I am going to focus on what communities and people are doing to reach health equity as examples. This type of discussion can get depressing, so it’s important to provide hope.

Resilience, growth, change

  • I will make use of the Connect2Success feature to send positive comments, as well as warnings.
  • I like to use humor in my classes whenever possible. I’ve created a “Take a break” board on the discussion boards and I will post funny videos or images there, and encourage students to do the same, as well as post their pets, or other fun things.
  • In my welcome video, I intend to address that many of us may have had a difficult learning experience in the Spring and that we will look forward to a better semester this time, since we have learned many lessons since then.

TIP Practices for Implementation

I hope to incorporate trauma informed pedagogical practices into my syllabus and/or course activities through the following: 

  • I’ve added resources at the very start of my syllabus: 

Resources for Emotional Wellness and Self Care:

  • I’ve cut out a lot of content in my course modules and focused on addressing identity formation and opportunities for personal experiences and thoughts. Prior to the TIP workshop, I realized how NOT student-centered I was, I am always trying to cram content and neglected to prioritize and allow for casual conversations, community building, and resources sharing, – even simple socializing!
  • I’ve included more diverse coursework, opportunities for student choice, and alleviated the amount of work tied to deadlines!
  • I’m going to spend some time to really focus on their strengths and their assets – and to celebrate their current knowledge and background. This relates to the modules I have on identity exploration.
  • I have also found areas of where hope, resistance, resilience aligns with the content. I think of all the trauma in the region of Latin America, how did these communities cope? How did they cope with illness and loss? How did they fight back, resist and provide resilient communities? How did they remain hopeful?
  • I’m also going to try to stay positive and focus on small experiences, opportunities, and choices that bear fruit and joy, such as encouraging them to participate in positive, action-oriented behaviors such as read poetry, protest, volunteer, clean their space, make art, cook, take walks, etc.

BLA Trauma Informed Pedagogy Workshop – August Homework

The discussions, readings and podcast I was exposed to in this workshop helped me realize that I need to make some significant modifications to my fall semester syllabi in order to be more flexible and accommodating to my students’ need as well as in order to bring hope and positivity to the class.

With those two goals in mind, these are some of the changes I plan to incorporate in my classes this semester:

– Flexible deadlines: I’ll continue having a fixed deadline (Sunday at midnight) for students to submit their BB assignments for the week. I think this will give all of us structure and might make it easier to plan a schedule ahead of time for balancing academic work and personal commitments for the rest of the semester. However, I’m now also conscious of how important it is for me to be willing to reopen assignments in order to give more time to those students that, for whatever reason, failed to submit some of their work. I’m thinking I will make all BB tests available for a second attempt during the last two weeks of the semester. That will give everyone a chance to review the material and finish any work they might have pending.

– Open-theme writing assignments: I teach a Spanish writing intensive course and I usually encourage students to write about personal and even difficult topics in this class. During the workshop I was made aware of the fact that even though some students might value being asked to reflect on themselves and get in touch with their feelings, not all of them might be ready or open to go there. So I have decided to change my current informal writing tasks and replace them with an open-themed journal. I feel this will still force students to write on a weekly basis and will still give them a semi-private space (I’ll be the only one reading what they write) to talk about any difficult situation/emotion they might be experiencing if they choose to do so.

– Reduced teaching content: As I review my syllabi for this semester, I have to confess that I am having a very hard time eliminating content. However, I do realize that at the present time students might be having difficulty concentrating and retaining information and that, therefore, less could be more. I am going to keep working on lightening my courses in terms of curriculum but also of the number of tests and tasks I assign per week.

– Eliminating timed-tests: All my online classes used to have a midterm and final timed-exam. I always tried to design those test so that students had just enough time to complete them but not so much that they could switch to Google in search of the answers. I am now going to eliminate those exams from my courses this semester. I’ll be assessing their reading comprehension as well as their orthography/grammar skills solely through non-timed activities spread throughout the entire semester.

– Stories with a positive outlook: During this workshop I noticed that a significant number of the stories I share with student by means of the movies or readings that I assign might be contributing in a very negative way to their feelings and outlook on life. Since our last meeting, I’ve been searching for new materials to try to contra-balance what might be a somewhat inherent Hispanic tragic sense of life with a more optimistic approach. As a result of this search, my curriculum will now incorporate the books Yo no soy tu perfecta hija mexicana and La trenza, as well as the following three films: La estrategia del caracol, El hijo de la novia and Campeones.

Thought Provoking Lessons Learned

I have always considered myself to be an empathetic teacher. I feel that my students also see me as empathetic and caring. Perhaps too much so! I recall at the end of one semester, I asked students for their feedback on the course – What did they like? What did they think overall? I’ll never forget how one student, Isaiah, said, “Professor, you’re too nice!” I know this about myself, that I will always be forgiving and lenient and err on the side of the student. Teaching at BMCC has taught me that many of our students come from a wide-range of circumstances that may impede their education, I see myself as someone who should encourage and facilitate, not make things more difficult for students. 

So while I am VERY happy to be a part of this workshop, many of the strategies that we learned are things that I do anyway. Things like inclusive pedagogy – which I have made a point of doing since taking an Intersectionality seminar last year. I strive to make sure that I am using inclusive language, encourage my students to think critically and examine their biases and assumptions, and use diverse examples in my lectures. Also, using Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a framework and focusing on activities/assignments that promote reflection and critical thinking and not just regurgitation for a test. 

One thing that I would like to work on during the Fall 2020 semester is building a stronger community in my asynchronous classes. As most professors do, I rely on Discussion Board assignments to create the sense of community in my online classes. I need to rethink my Discussion Board assignments so that students are more engaged when responding to each other. Principle 4: Collaboration and Mutuality (Carello, 2014) would be a good place to start with this. 

Overall, I have to say that this workshop has been extremely beneficial to me as a person. The SCEER framework was revelatory to me because of the most important principle of trauma-informed pedagogy: self care. While this is a concept that is seemingly obvious, it is one that I definitely overlook. I’m not sure if it’s because I am a mother, and it has become automatic for me to put myself last, or if there is another reason. However, during our first Zoom session, I was struck by the obvious –  that we ALL have trauma. Just because we are present and engaged does not mean that it doesn’t exist or that it is healed. The trauma is there and it manifests differently. The importance of recognizing this in our students also is paramount. Just because they are present and participating one day, doesn’t mean that the next day they will be able to engage with the same enthusiasm.

Trauma Informed Pedagogical Practices-Fall 2020

by Dr. Aradhana Kumari

In the Fall of 2020, I will be teaching two courses Statistics with Algebra( Math 150.5) and Statistics Introduction to Statistics( Math 150).

I will hold unofficial zoom sessions where students will talk and I will listen carefully, during these seasons student can ask a question related to the material covered, hint for homework problem or if they need any help with the course. I will let my students know that they can reach out to me anytime they want I will follow up with them quickly. I will ask questions either by announcement or on the discussion board that how are they doing with study material and if I need to make any changes. I will also ask my students to share their email or phone numbers whatever they are comfortable with their classmates so that they can feel more connected and they can work together. At the beginning of each week, I will carefully write what are they going to learn, and at the end of each week, I will ask them to summarize what did they learn. I will hold official zoom meetings where students can come and share if they are having any difficulty with the material or any other kind of difficulty. I will encourage my student to take some breaks or go for a walk and take good care of their health. I will relax with the due dates of the quizzes, homework, and Exams. Overall I will be more flexible with the due dates and caring.

Fall 2020 and Trauma-Informed Teaching

I have always benefited from the generosity of my colleagues and professors. They have been generous in listening, empathizing, critiquing, and extending another chance to correct whatever is or was in need of correcting. And in such a generous and welcoming intellectual environment, I grew.

This summer I met over sixty students through a screen. In some cases, I never saw their faces or heard the sound of their footsteps. We met Monday through Thursday on Zoom for three hours. Some of that time was spent in small groups and some of it class-wide. I counted on one hand the number of absent students. The quiet students opened up in small groups. The more vocal supported their classmates. I have seen this in my classes back when we held class in a room with other people. But perhaps the plague and the need for human contact brought something more out of all of us. It was not perfect: Some had connectivity problems, some had computers that suddenly stopped working, some had to accompany an elder to a doctor—still participating while waiting outside. But what I saw was resilience.

But they could not always do the work “on time.” So I accepted work when it came in. I did not trouble to ask, what happened? In most cases, students were overwhelmed and all of them were new to college—these workshops were at The City College for the SEEK Department’s Summer Immersion. It was intense!

Like this past Summer, this coming Fall semester is unique in that I have never facilitated a class with students with whom I have never been in the same room. Among several steps, many of which have always been in practice, I will increase the number of unofficial office hours I hold, inviting students to talk privately if they need to. My courses are synchronous but there is never enough time to really talk about the many tangents that inevitably spark from conversations about the environment and the individual. They will have work to do, of course, on their own time—what we are now calling “asynchronous” though I still call it “homework.” (It’s all “homework” these days.) I also have all these discussion board and formal essay assignments with deadlines that are malleable, which is what I did in Spring when we suddenly shifted to distance learning, a mode for which none of my students signed up. As my colleagues and professors had done for me, I am ready to listen to my students with a plague-informed ear, one that has experienced the utter lunacy of staring at a screen and talking to it for endless hours—one is reminded of the Jetsons in the worst ways . (Indeed, I had never wanted to teach online, or hybrid, or fully online. I had taken an online course once for a certification and it was fully online and the loneliest experience. And please do not think I am poo-pooing the online learning experience. I am just saying t’isn’t my cup of tea.)

And now, to answer the actual question.

I think this semester my plan is to do the following:

  1. As I always have in my composition classes, I will ask students to freewrite before we begin discussions. But the guided freewriting will at least once a week center on a mindfulness exercise—such as writing about that piece of fruit and all its wonders. (And in my creative writing workshop, I will for at least the first few weeks totally take this mindfulness exercise to the next level by making it a creative piece—stay tuned!)
  2. I will extend office hours as much as I can manage.
  3. Deadlines for assignments will be there for those who need the structure and moveable for those who need more time.
  4. Invite students to suggest edits to the schedule of work. Invite students to help me help them! Most of our students take way too many credits at one time and I have always been aware of that but with this whole distance-learning modality requires me to be aware that not everyone has the sort of space—physical, that is—that I have.

In closing, thank you for this workshop and this assignment (which I dreaded because it’s writing and, well, writing is so difficult!) which has helped me actually relax.

Trauma-informed Pedagogy in Fall 2020 courses

Flexibility within the existing structure of my courses

•Deadlines for Assignments: 

•Structured deadlines with flexibility to grant extensions

•Student-friendly explanations in syllabus, e.g., importance of keeping up with assignments and meeting deadlines but urging students to reach out if there are challenges in doing so

•Reducing Content in LIN100 •Require a final capstone project instead of 4 smaller projects

Conveying hope.

•Weekly emails/Bb announcements that include feel good images/clip art, e.g., cute animals to elicit positive emotions

•Weekly office hours via zoom

•Opening class sharing activity, e.g., Roses and thorns