About Moving Forward

Moving forward together reflects our commitment to our students, their education, and their well-being.

What is Trauma?

Trauma is a real or perceived threat to your safety or wellness, or the safety or wellness of a loved one. While the COVID-19 pandemic and recent racial injustices are causing our students to experience trauma now, this is not a new concern. For years, many of our students have experienced trauma prior to enrolling at NIU or while being a student at NIU.

What is Trauma-Informed Teaching?

Trauma-informed teaching recognizes that students’ emotional and physical wellbeing, sense of security and belonging, and their past and current traumas influence their ability to learn. In other words, it responds to the reality that students are whole people with whole, complicated lives, in and out of the classroom. As such, classroom instructors must prepare for how they will respond when personal crises (e.g., a family emergency, mental health concerns) or collective crises (e.g., environmental disaster, a mass shooting, racist or xenophobic events) occur. It is not the instructors’ responsibility to solve these crises. Rather, instructors are encouraged to understand that such experiences will impact students’ ability to learn and thus proactively consider how their pedagogical decisions, course structure, and expectations/policies might be responsive to such traumas and stressors.

It is important to note that trauma-informed strategies and practices can be utilized with all students, whether or not they have experienced trauma. These practices create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all students.

Framework for Trauma-Informed Teaching

  • How do we (faculty) not perpetuate our students’ trauma?
  • How do we (faculty) get help instead of solving students’ problems ourselves?
  • How do we (faculty) manage our own trauma?

Creative Commons License

Portions of this site were developed by Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching and adapted for NIU by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. They are shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Back to top