Trauma-Informed Teaching in Low Income Schools

Schulz, "Rynx" Claire Gordon, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Ceraso, Steph, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia

This thesis examines the implementation and challenges of trauma-informed pedagogy within underfunded public schools, drawing upon firsthand experiences and a comprehensive literature review. The narrative centers on a poignant classroom incident involving a student, Gabriel, highlighting the systemic failure to address the emotional and psychological needs of students in crisis. Through a detailed account of personal and observed classroom interactions, the study critiques the prevailing educational approach that prioritizes standardized testing and administrative protocol over student welfare and community building.

The thesis interweaves theoretical perspectives from leading scholars in trauma and psychology, such as Bessel van der Kolk and Bruce Perry, with practical classroom experiences to explore the profound impact of trauma on learning and behavior. It argues that trauma-informed pedagogy, which emphasizes understanding, empathy, and support, is essential for effectively teaching and engaging students who experience chronic trauma, particularly in environments characterized by poverty and violence.

Further, the research extends to the author’s current role as a university instructor, where principles of trauma-informed teaching are applied in a composition course. This section of the thesis illustrates how trauma-aware strategies can enhance educational outcomes even in different demographic settings, reinforcing the universal relevance of this approach.

MA (Master of Arts)
pedagogy, developmental trauma, trauma-informed, instructional strategies, education, teaching, middle school
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