Trauma-Informed Literacy Instruction

While many appreciate its value, trauma-informed practice can be a confusing term and often we don’t know where to start. Resilient Educator explains that trauma-informed practice includes two steps:

  1. learning about trauma and how it affects learners’ behaviours, learning and relationships
  2. intentionally creating an atmosphere that supports each learner, demonstrates empathy, and teaches resilience

Trauma-informed practice in literacy education responds to trauma that may be affecting the learner, as well as the tutor. Trauma-informed practice also prevents future trauma. Prevention can include things like equity and social justice.

“Trauma Informed Practice is simply an opportunity to understand how trauma affects our reactions both consciously and unconsciously. Considering this knowledge as we meet and intake foundational learners informs our decisions and our interactions with potentially trauma affected learners.” – Rochelle Galeski

Trauma can happen in any place and at any time. There could be things that have caused trauma for a learner from their past school experience. This may have been bullying, racism, harassment, sexism, or trauma from the curriculum itself.

While there are many approaches to incorporating trauma-informed practices, author Alex Shevrin Venet says, “…humans going through extraordinarily stressful times need space, and flexibility, and just to be met with care.” For prevention, she advises using your voice to advocate for yourself and your learners.

Erin E. Silcox in her Trauma-Informed Teachers blog outlines three ways literacy practitioners are currently incorporating trauma-informed practices in their work:

  1. attention to privacy and boundaries which includes quiet and confidential behaviour management practices
  2. recognizing the potentially traumatizing nature of traditional literacy instruction for BIPOCs which includes representation in course materials
  3. expanding what counts in the literacy classroom, which includes going beyond mainstream characters, storylines, and authorship, what is permitted in literacy as topics, instruction, and evidence of learning, and much more

There is much more to learn about trauma-informed practices and approaches in the literacy field. The resources listed below are a great place to start on your trauma-informed journey.




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