Introduction to the Special Issue
This special issue of JAID begins to bridge the gap between the theories of social emotional learning/trauma informed learning with instructional design offering specific cases of design and development projects that illustrate the confluence of these two broad areas. We share these articles with our ID community in the hopes of creating principles for “compassionate instructional design” (Thomas et al., 2019) through a collection of practitioner cases and research articles on applied instructional design practices that are responsive to trauma-affected learners, and which highlight the complexities of the learning context of the learners being served.
Building Preservice Teacher Resiliency with Trauma-Informed Case Based Instruction
At least one in four children in the United States has experienced one or more traumatic events (National Child Traumatic Stress Network Schools Committee [NCTSN], 2008). Children exposed to trauma bring a host of psychological and physical stressors to the classroom. Teachers can positively impact a student's ability to cope with these events and develop resilience (Brooks, 1994), but not without a physical and emotional toll on their well-being. This paper investigates one teacher education program's attempt to better support preservice teachers (PTs) in meeting these challenges by examining the impact of trauma-informed case-based instruction on PTs self-reported resilience and efficacy with Trauma Informed Instructional Practices (TIIP). Before partaking in a teacher education summer study abroad program, 26 PTs completed both the Conner-Division Resilience Scale-10 (CD-RISC) and Teacher Self-Efficacy Scale (TSES) to determine baselines for resilience and efficacy. During the program, eight PTs participated in a special topics course on trauma-informed practices utilizing case-based instruction (treatment group). At the completion of the program, all 26 PTs were reassessed on both scales. Results indicated that PTs made significant gains on both measures, but those who were in the trauma-informed case-based instruction group had significantly greater gains in resiliency than the control group. The findings support the use of case-based instruction for enhancing PTs’ resiliency. Implications are provided for embedding resiliency scaffolds for case-based reasoning through a trauma-informed lens.  
Building Belonging into the System
This design case documents how a K-12 district took steps to systemically support virtual student wellness and belonging. Plans for course design to support social-emotional-academic learning (SEAL) competencies, increase perception of belonging, and create safe, predictable learning environments characteristic of a trauma-informed approach to teaching and learning are shared. The assumption virtual learners are not looking to experience belonging and cannot be successful unless they already have strong SEAL skills is challenged. Rather, the positioning of SEAL competencies as learning objectives rather than necessary prerequisites to access online learning proved to contribute to more equitable learning opportunities.
Trauma-Informed Learning Community (TLC) for Educational Professionals
This paper seeks to provide a process for developing a trauma-informed faculty and staff learning community using Lenning et al. (2013) adapted, 4-part Learning Community Planning Framework (LCPF) as a foundation for implementing Imad’s (2021) trauma-informed education framework. This innovative and collaborative trauma-informed learning community aims to disrupt an overburdened educational system for faculty and staff, guided by a trauma-based pedagogy and a collaborative structure for discretionary caring of emotional, mental, and professional needs (Gaard & Ergüner-Tekinalp, 2022). The goal of this paper is to introduce how the four phases of the LCPF leverage the trauma-informed education framework as a collaborative strategy that can be modeled across university campuses to develop their very own faculty and staff led, trauma-informed learning community; which this paper is calling the TLC for Educational Professionals.
"It's About the Journey, Not the Destination"
In recent years, trauma-informed instructional practices have garnered significant interest among educators, researchers, and instructional designers, particularly as the Covid-19 pandemic ushered to the forefront the harsh realities many students were facing. As educators grapple with these challenges, we focus on a critical feature of a trauma-informed approach, specifically care and care for students’ well-being. Current assessment practices that emphasize the role of grades in student learning cause grade-related traumas, including negatively impacting students’ mental health and academic motivation. Through in-depth interviews with eight graduate students, this article reports on the students’ perceptions of being in a course with grade-free assessments. Analysis reveals students perceived the ungrading process as a stress-free experience compared to their experiences with grades. More specifically, analysis of students’ accounts identified that students perceived ungrading to foster collective reflection and feedback, encourage the pursuit of personal and professional interests related to course material, and restore a growth mindset toward assessments and learning, in general. We use this special issue as an opportunity to recognize ungrading as an assessment option in a trauma-informed approach and question how assessment, and instructional practices more broadly, fit within a system of care.
Transforming Learning Communities Through a Transdisciplinary, Trauma-Informed Approach to Classrooms as Communities
We describe an intentional, long-term approach to community building from a trauma-informed perspective and evidence from an action research study on this approach As the instructors and as members of a transdisciplinary team, including social work, English and rhetoric, and teacher education, we reframed a first-semester course on building classroom communities for undergraduate middle and secondary teacher certification candidates to include explicit attention to trauma-informed practices. Following the course, we facilitated a Professional Learning Community (PLC) during subsequent semesters to engage candidates in ongoing discussions around trauma-informed practices as they continued with their program. We examined data collected across the course and the PLC meetings to understand how candidates’ thinking shifted around trauma-informed practice. Findings show that teacher candidates felt more knowledgeable about childhood trauma as well as how to incorporate this knowledge into their learning communities, yet they struggled with some aspects of the shift from the theoretical to the practical.
A District-Wide Implementation of Social Emotional Learning During a Pandemic
Social emotional learning (SEL) has shown significant positive effect on self-management and self-awareness; however, teachers have been skeptical of implementation due to the amount of extra time and resources. This article presents a case study of how a school district implemented SEL using the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) framework through a trauma-informed lens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using Shared Google Docs to Co-Create Life-Affirming Learning
In Spring 2022, we (faculty member and undergraduate student) co-facilitated an undergraduate education course. To support and affirm all participants as whole beings who were both navigating trauma and developing as learners and people, we co-created between us and with enrolled students numerous shared Google Docs. We used these Docs to: (1) ground ourselves and map our intentions and plans as co-facilitators; (2) create structures for student engagement and organization; and (3) ensure that affective experiences were integral to course content and processes. We describe these uses and offer recommendations for educators interested in adapting this design strategy.
Special Issue Interview Feature
In extending the conversation around trauma-informed instructional design, one of the key assets we utilized for this special issue of JAID was the text, Trauma-responsive schooling: Centering student voice and healing by Lyn Brown, Catharine Biddle & Mark Tappan (2022). As editors, we felt that our readers would benefit from learning a little more about this resource as well as some scaffolded linkages between the trauma-informed literature and the traditional approaches to instructional design. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to interview two of the authors to help make this linkage more clear in this special issue.
Conclusion: A Trauma-Informed Instructional Design
Most instructional design practices are founded on relatively systematic, linear models which tend toward pseudoscientific determination of learning goals, measurable objectives and outcomes. However, this special issue’s contributors reveal design approaches that transcend lock-step models. Collectively, their accounts center practices that are humanity-centered, co-constructed, and adaptive to learner needs. In this vein, a move toward a trauma-informed practice of instructional design will focus on the importance of collaboration, communication, and care. Care involves listening to learner preferences, recognizing learning needs, anticipating potential barriers to learning, embedding targeted tools and supports, and remaining adaptive to the population served.