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Trauma-Informed Teaching: During the Transition to Virtualized Learning and in Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

COVID-19 Teaching Strategies and Techniques

Trauma-Informed Teaching: During the Transition to Virtualized Learning and in Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

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After the coronavirus pandemic hit the US, our institution quickly moved to virtual learning. As faculty developers and instructors, we felt that the Teaching and Learning Center was set up to effectively mobilize our faculty and staff, offer direct instruction and guidance, and provide everyone with a supportive and safe community. Most colleges had to rush to virtual teaching, with faculty learning multiple new apps, interfaces, and within weeks building a new virtual vernacular and literacy. There is a social and emotional component that was always at risk of being overlooked but was perhaps the most effective at mitigating the more severe effects of such rapid transition.

Recognizing that we are all experiencing the impact and trauma of a global pandemic, we have created a chart that outlines the six principles to a trauma-informed approach as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with the National Center for Trauma-Informed Care. This chart (see the PDF below) contains tips to use while teaching virtually to alleviate the effects of trauma as well as build resilience and self-empowerment so you and your students can heal and thrive. 

Many of us are heading into the fall semester heavy-hearted, anxious, or experiencing traumatic stress. The pandemic is not only a physical crisis or an institutional crisis but also a profound emotional crisis. Parker Palmer states, “We teach who we are.” Right now, we are heartbroken, uncertain, and stressed, but we are also still full of love and hope for our students and our disciplines. We cannot give what we do not have. We must first pay attention to our own trauma and mitigate its impact on our ability to teach and help our students learn and flourish.

Mays Imad, PhD, is a neuroscientist and professor of pathophysiology and biomedical ethics at Pima Community College, the founding coordinator of the Teaching and Learning Center, and a John N. Gardner Institute Fellow.

Lisa C. Schumaier, MFA, is a writing adjunct professor and fellow for the Teaching and Learning Center at Pima Community College. She is also the author Dot Devota, whose books include The Division of Labor (Rescue Press), And The Girls Worried Terribly (Noemi Press), The Eternal Wall (Book*hug), and The Dept. of Posthumous Letters (Argos Books).


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