Teaching and learning with care and hope: Ways of being with crisis, trauma, and uncertainty in the classroom and beyond

As Cathy Davidson emphasizes in her post on the single most essential requirement in designing a fall course, “Trauma is not an add on. From everything we know about learning, if the trauma is not addressed, accounted for, and built into the course design, we fail.  Our students fail.  None of us needs another failure.” Sharon M. Ravitch suggests that our teaching now must be grounded, humanizing, and transformational.

In an effort to help faculty imagine ways to address trauma in our teaching, our colleagues Karín Aguilar-San Juan (American Studies) and Devavani Chatterjea (Biology) led the first Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) summer 2020 faculty development session on Teaching and Learning with Care and Hope. You can access both the slides and the recording from that session; the recording requires a Macalester College login.

Please also check out these mental health resources for faculty and staff from the Hamre Center for Health and Wellness. Director of Counseling Liz Schneider-Bateman offers some excellent tools for creating a trauma-informed pedagogy, as does the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s teaching blog on the topic. The Center for Religious and Spiritual Life has also developed an incredible resource of sustaining practices.

Cat Kirby’s video on trauma-informed teaching, Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s essay on generosity in hard times, and Nisha Sajnani’s piece based on her experience as a drama therapist also offer important and useful perspectives. See also Flower Darby’s work on how to be a better online teacher.

Attending to the contexts in which we – and our students – are doing our work, and being guided by principles of equity and inclusivity, are also critical strategies for addressing trauma and mitigating its effects on learning; as Greta Anderson notes, racism fuels poor mental health.