Incorporating trauma-informed pedagogical practices into my syllabus and/or course activities in Fall 2020

With the benefit of the trauma-informed pedagogy workshop in August 2020, I reflected on my current courses, considering the practices and policies already in place that support the “Trauma Informed Teaching and Learning Principles” (Baez, Marquart, Garay, & Chung, 2020). I also reviewed these principles, together with insights from colleagues in the workshop, to find ways to develop and incorporate some new practices and policies going forward.

Below I articulate my existing and new practices and policies for each principle.

“Physical, Emotional, Social, & Academic Safety”

In my syllabus, I already include the section on “life happens,” which details all the supports available to students, and I state this explicitly in the first course session, and repeat it throughout the semester as a reminder. Emphasizing safety and “the need to learn from mistakes” are essential to my courses. I am quite transparent about my own struggles, as a first-generation college student, from mixed-immigrant heritage, working-class family, and I encourage students to speak with me in confidence about any challenges, as well as promote their finding support through the Counseling Center and other low-cost options. This semester I am using Remind, an app that permits students to text each other (and me) without having to share cell phone numbers. I am going to encourage them to use this tool to get to know each other and support each other’s work in the class and beyond.

Trustworthiness & Transparency

I have been grading with rubrics for many years, but I realized through the switch to virtual learning, and the trauma-informed workshop, that I have not done enough to minimize disappointment with grades, especially on formal papers and essays. I am a tough grader, and students are often disappointed, even though I announce my strict grading criteria ahead of assignments. I now see that this is not working! This semester, I plan to promote trust and transparency by reviewing rubrics carefully when I distribute the assignments, something I have not done before. I will also provide some brief examples of the most important sections of assignments as examples.

Support & Connection

I am going to use Connect2Success this semester to share praise and concerns, and to facilitate connections with advisors.

Collaboration & Mutuality

I will be teaching synchronously, and will use breakout rooms to encourage discussion amongst peers. I do not have any student-led assignments this semester, so I want to work on that for future semesters.

Empowerment, Voice, & Choice

I will have a break in the three-hour course I am teaching. When we are in person, I always remind students that they do not need my permission to take care of their needs (restroom, getting water, etc.,), so online, I will remind students during class periodically to take breaks as needed.

Social Justice

The content of my courses directly addresses social justice, so from the outset, we define it, and note that we will prioritize respect even as we may disagree about the issues we will discuss.

Resilience, Growth, & Change

The workshop helped me realize how important it is to find balance in class. I am going to encourage students to post photos of pets, hobbies, or favorite places. Breaks will also help us balance our attention.


Baez, J. C., Marquart, M. S., Garay, K., & Chung, R. (2020, March 24). Retrieved August 24, 2020, from doi: