“Trauma-informed writing workshop is a method that builds both engagement and the student’s sense of self-efficacy—it can restore and grow both the desire and capacity to learn.”
Today’s youth are growing up in an age of stress and trauma, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the classroom. Absenteeism, emotional distraction, passivity, and unresponsiveness are all signs of children in need. Thankfully, it turns out that the workshop classroom, with limited but essential tuning, can be just the environment students in the grip of trauma need to become comfortable in themselves and break through into active learning.
Richard Koch has taught writing at both the University of Iowa and Adrian College, Michigan, where he is currently Professor of English Emeritus. He has a secondary specialization in African American Studies. He has worked with the National Writing Project for over thirty years in Iowa and Michigan, directing the Southeast Michigan Writing Project. He has taught Advanced Institutes on Culturally Sustaining Teaching for the Oakland, Michigan, Writing Project.
The story of twenty-first-century education is surely still to be written. It could be a story of struggle between what we say we want and what we as a nation are willing to provide. It could be a tale of horror revealing the harm we do by being harsh instead of helping to students in need. It could be a dystopian narrative contrasting opportunities dreamt of under the umbrella of John Dewey with ravages brought by the storms of testing and inequity. Or it could be a mystery about whether, in our busy, preoccupied lives, we will honor the sacredness of our own children.
Let’s write the next part of this story together. Let’s blink back our hurt, wherever it comes from, and bring our deepest impulse of kindness to the table. Let’s offer students scaffolding instead of judgment. Let’s look at the world’s past intolerance of difference and respond with nurturing for all learners, who may grow mercy for others in our future. Let’s write this story of twenty-first-century education together, and let’s make it the story of our perseverance and love.