8 Concrete Strategies for Trauma-Informed Teaching

Trauma is part of the lived experience of two thirds of children by age 16. Trauma-informed practice is an approach to teaching and learning that supports the needs of the whole student. Teachers must mindfully attend to students’ cognitive, physical, mental, and emotional needs and create inclusive environments.

Teachers need access to sustainable strategies and tools to foster rigorous learning and care for wellbeing in the classroom. The following eight strategies from Moreland University faculty and an alum offer trauma-informed practices to use immediately in the classroom for student health, safety, engagement, and success.

Chanun Caine, M.Ed. is Moreland’s Clinical Academic Development Specialist who is passionate about empowering educators with trauma-informed teaching practices.

  1. Start class with an SEL check-in or a Morning Meeting. A quick check-in with students can ensure they have a moment to feel prepared and comfortable prior to learning.
  2. Create a space in the classroom where students can take a break (i.e. Chill Chair, Calm Down Corner) and access stress balls, fidget trinkets, and mindfulness tools.

Katherine Holman, M.A., LPCC is an instructor and mentor with Moreland University who is an expert in social-emotional tools for trauma-informed classrooms.

  1. Provide students with autonomy by giving them choices on how they complete activities, show their learning, or participate in sharing.
  2. Share learning objectives and a lesson agenda with students. Prepare students for any deviations in routine or schedule by outlining what is ahead and expected. 

Nicole Pauling M.Ed. is a recent graduate of Moreland University’s Master’s in Education with an Educational Technology focus and teacher preparation. 

  1. Keep a vigilant eye on the students who don’t seem to have a peer support group and find ways to engage them and integrate them into the classroom. 
  2. Work with school leadership and experts in the building to create a repository of services and programs that support students’ physical and emotional wellbeing. These might include psychological services, anti-bullying programs, and anti-suicide programs. 

Justine Wilson, Ed.S., an experienced school leader, is an instructor at Moreland University who leads learning through a responsive approach and an open heart knowing that learning is relational. 

  1. Ask open-ended questions for students of all ability levels to participate in discussions. Integrate various intellectual access points through Project Zero Thinking Routines!
  2. Provide feedback to students that communicates high standards, assurance students can reach them, and action steps for growth. Try these sentence starters: 
    • “I am proud of you for…” 
    • “I have seen you grow by…”,
    • “For next steps, how about trying…”

At Moreland University, we support teachers around the world in our online teacher preparation program and master’s degrees in education. Watch our webinar to learn about these strategies and why trauma-informed practice is critical!

Joseph A. Pearson, M.S.Ed.
Professional Development Officer, Moreland University

Additional Reading