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Trauma Informed Educational Practice

Working Definition

Trust is personal; psychological safety is a group phenomenon (Hirsch, 2017).

From Rovai, 2002, p. 198: "... the most essential elements of community are spirit, trust, mutual interdependence among members, interactivity, shared values and beliefs, and common expectations."

From Marquart and Báez, 2021, p. 65: "Building trust entails developing community via a welcoming environment and connecting through vulnerability including via check-in rituals, which leads to freedom and empowerment for learning."

Why it’s important to Student Learning and Academic Success

  • Relationship building by teachers has been found to earn student trust by feeling they are fairly treated, which makes them more likely to cooperate in the learning experience.

  • Social and school connectedness is important in affecting students’ mood and academic self-efficacy, as well as their academic achievement and school success.

  • Aspects of social interaction linked to engagement including teaching presence, teacher and student support, and emotion-related interactions must be incorporated into online classes in a highly intentional way.

(Stanford Graduate School of Education, n.d.)

Classroom Tools

  • Be intentional about including time for check-ins inside and outside class to build rapport and well-being
  • Create a collaborative class playlist for engagement inside and outside of class
  • Use "stokes" -- warm-up activities designed to boost energy, foster collaboration, or ignite creativity -- to build in moments of levity and get brains, bodies, and creativity moving. See for example The Stoke Deck.
  • Use analog activities for off-screen community building and group reflection
  • Build opportunities for student choice and voice into class time
  • Be flexible in adapting to student needs

(Stanford Graduate School of Education, n.d.)

Coursera: Mood Meter Overview

Appreciative Close (Vecellio, 2021)

Classroom Audit Materials

Classroom Community Scale -- Development (Rovai, 2002) and Application (Parrish et al., 2023). See APA PsycTESTS for a summary of this instrument.

The Who’s in Class? Form -- Development (Addy et al., 2021)

Theoretical and Evidence-Based Practices

Required Institutional Supports for Success

  • Predictability and consistency in decision making
  • Prepare for difficult conversations
  • Listen effectively and ask good questions
  • Cultivate emotional regulation and self-awareness
  • Create and maintain a climate in which the members of the unit trust each other
  • Understand the impact of trust on issues of confidentiality and transparency

(Bray et al., 2019)

Interrelated Concepts

Trust and Psychological Safety may be created concurrently:

  • Learn the strengths and individual passions of your students
  • Teach on day one
  • Start with smaller assignments that allow you to gauge learners’ confidence with the material
  • Offer assignment completion options that give students agency over their work

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