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Case Study: One Program’s Process of Integrating Trauma-Informed Practices into Educator Preparation

The widespread prevalence of trauma and subsequent impacts on student learning and behavior is well known and documented. PK-12 schools across the nation are integrating trauma-informed practices (TIP) to better respond to the needs of children who have experienced trauma. Furthermore, there are an increasing number of educator preparation programs that offer trauma training to their teacher candidates. This blog outlines one educator preparation program’s efforts to prepare its students in TIP.

The Metropolitan State University of Denver School of Education (SOE) in partnership with local non-profit Resilient Futures is integrating TIP into its entire curriculum. TIP is merged seamlessly with existing course learning objectives, ensuring that all students graduate competent to recognize and address the needs of children who have experienced trauma in their future classrooms and school settings. It is important for novice educators to have TIP integrated into their overall teacher preparation rather than required as an additional class or training to their already-crowded programs of study. With TIP integrated into course learning objectives, students understand how TIP is fundamental to all aspects of teaching and classes and not supplemental or add-on.

The SOE curriculum integration process takes the form of three phases:

Convenience (Summer 2018-Fall 2019)

This phase consisted of the initial steps to get the program off the ground and piloted the TIP course integration process. Faculty attended seminars on TIP to build their own knowledge and expertise in these practices. Faculty who attended these seminars were then offered stipends to integrate TIP into their courses. Throughout this phase the SOE was able to pilot the course integration process and identify early internal champions who would be dedicated to the program and help build its momentum.

Intentionality (Spring 2020-Present)

This phase consists of implementing learnings from the “Convenience” phase to improve and expand the course integration process. Program-specific (e.g., elementary education) meetings are convened to ensure courses within each department with TIP content build on one another and content is scaffolded appropriately. Faculty seminars on TIP have expanded to build faculty capacity in the how of teaching TIP (e.g., what to do if a student is triggered in class). Faculty can have individual consultations with Resilient Futures to address any specific barriers or challenges they may be facing in their own TIP course integration process. A “train-the-trainer” series is offered to faculty who wish to be internal TIP leaders at the SOE.

Institutionalization (Likely to begin Spring 2023)

This phase will focus on ensuring sustainability of curriculum integration. Departments and faculty will be encouraged and supported to change official course syllabi to include TIP integration, meaning that all faculty who teach that course is required to teach TIP. The SOE will create a process to ensure material is updated as the field of TIP in education grows, as well as a process for ensuring fidelity to the TIP model.

The vision of the SOE is that TIP should become so fundamental to educator preparation that future educators will not remember a time without it.

Email tip@msudenver.edu to learn more about the SOE’s TIP integration program.

Anna Joseph is director of trauma-informed practices, School of Education; Ofelia Schepers is an assistant professor in elementary education and literacy; and Kathryn Young is an associate professor in secondary education at Metropolitan State University of Denver



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