Lucas Center Blog

Trauma-Informed Teaching

March 19, 2020  / Bill Reynolds, PhD  / Tags: online, covid, teaching, learning, trauma, emotion

We at the Lucas Center have talked to a number of students over the last week, and we are hearing quite a bit about the multiple sources of stress our students are attempting to manage. Our colleagues at other universities are observing similar challenges with their students, and today people began exchanging information about “trauma-informed teaching.” Even if we and our students haven’t experienced the corona virus pandemic as a traumatic incident per se, social isolation coupled with an onslaught of frightening information can activate emotions associated with past experiences that were emotionally difficult, if not traumatic.

As I’ve suggested in previous blog posts, students are going to have a hard time learning if they are feeling emotionally overwhelmed…and a lot are feeling emotionally overwhelmed. As a way of helping you think about how you can be responsive to your students’ emotional states, you might be interested in the information and resources in the links below. Much of this material comes from an approach characterized as “trauma-informed teaching,” but I think you’ll find that if you are compassionate and inclusive in your approach to teaching much of this guidance will feel familiar.

One of the best resources I found is called “Trauma-Informed Practices for Postsecondary Education: A Guide” at (requires a very quick registration; pdf is downloadable). For additional information on the impact of trauma, this website summarizes work from trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk.

If you have additional ideas, advice, suggestions that you would like to share with your colleagues, send it to or and we will post it to the blog.