Mainstream cultural standards (of white, wealthy cultures) ascribe a high status to the written and spoken word. Schools, which often reinforce this culture and which require success in linguistic abilities to move successfully through to higher education, may be resistant to decentering print.
Multimodality is an amazing tool for working with all students, particularly those whose cultures are marginalized and/or who have experienced trauma. Want to know why schools may be resistant to multimodality and how you can use it anyway? Keep watching!
Students who have been impacted by trauma may struggle with literacy learning, especially when constraints and rigid expectations won't budge. Providing options for composing in multiple modes ensures flexibility, student choice, voice, and passion, and can help avoid retraumatizing students.
Multimodal composition and consumption (aka “writing” and “reading” allow for flexibility in what counts for literacy learning. Not sure why this is so beneficial for students who’ve experienced trauma? Keep reading to find out!
Multimodality is the incorporation of multiple modes of communication. It’s a move away from print-centrism and a move toward a recognition that we communicate in more ways than one.
Multimodality has the ability to change your teaching. Embracing more than one mode of communication, AKA moving past print and linguistic modes, can include more students and increase creativity. Not sure what multimodality is? Keep reading to learn what counts as multimodality.
In 1994, the New London Group, composed of literacy scholars, met to discuss the changing landscape of literacy in a globalized world. What came out of that meeting was a call for action to theorize, incorporate, and further research, technology integration, multimodality, and cultural and linguistic diversity in schools.
Not sure where our current understanding of multimodality came from? Want to know what laid the foundation for a broader definition of literacy in schools? Stay tuned to learn about the New London Group and their work on multimodality.
In order to question deficit perspectives held by schools of students of color, teachers must first understand their roots. Deficit perspectives stem from white dominant education systems, which privilege the knowledge, language practices, and cultures of mainstream people. Therefore, the knowledge, languages, and cultures of people of color are seen as less than. Simply knowing this is often enough to help us question deficits, but doing so on an ongoing basis is challenging.
Deficit perspectives devalue the knowledge, languages, and cultures of non-mainstream students. Teachers should take deficit perspectives on and disrupt the notion that mainstream centrism is normal. Keep reading to learn why and how to dismantle deficit perspectives!
After white educators begin to educate themselves about the history of racism and embark on their journeys toward anti-racism it is not only appropriate, but necessary to teach students about anti-racism. In the literacy classroom, this looks like incorporating stories about the histories of racism and helping students look in the mirror at ways that race presents in their lives.
As an educator, you have likely embarked on a journey toward anti-racism. Once you’ve educated yourself on the history of racism, it’s time to help your students discover how race enacts in their lives. Not sure how? Keep reading to find out!
Raise Your Racial Consciousness
White teachers can combat race-based traumas in schools by raising their racial consciousness. Start by recognizing the privilege attached to your race. Notice how it impacts your pedagogical and behavior management decisions. Read about the history of racism and start talking about race. Then, bring those conversations into your classroom.
As a teacher, you are in the perfect position to either perpetuate or disrupt race-based traumas in schools. This starts with your own anti-racist work and can translate into anti-racist instruction for your students. Keep reading to learn how an increased racial awareness can help disrupt race-based traumas in schools.
The stress response in trauma-exposed students may be hypersensitive. When we don’t recognize race-based traumas in schools, we may be mislabeling students of color as defiant, difficult, or unteachable.
As a teacher, you can push back against mislabeling children who are experiencing race-based trauma. It starts with recognizing it. Keep reading to learn more!
In a 2019 post for ASCD titled “Mindfulness Won’t Save Us. Fixing the System Will”, Christina Torres (@biblio_phile), an English teacher in Honolulu, situated mindfulness in the conversation on equity and systemic trauma. Mindfulness is not a silver bullet for children who’ve experienced trauma and oppression. It is simply one tool that teachers can use to support students’ readiness to learn and manage emotions. Importantly, Torres highlighted that the problems facing students in oppressed communities are systemic. Torres presented the idea that mindfulness embraces not just the beautiful and pleasant, but also helps us manage the difficult aspects of life. It supports our ability to be present when dealing with tough subjects, just as much as it can help us to notice the world around us. Taking Torres’ work a step further, I share with you work I did using a self-study to investigate my own biases and assumptions to become more anti-racist. I share how mindfulness can support our self-awareness when making critical pedagogical decisions.
Teachers and students should use mindfulness to dig deep into their assumptions, biases, and the consequences of those thoughts. Not sure how this all fits together? Keep reading to learn where mindfulness fits in the conversation about equity!
The trauma-informed rhetoric has been focused on a medical model of trauma. We have been looking at how the brain is impacted by trauma and ways teachers need to heal students. In addition, a narrow definition of trauma as both deficit and recognizable leaves out the notion that racism and subjugation are traumatic, especially when they occur in schools. We need to shift how we define trauma away from a deficit-based medical model. Also, we need to rethink what we count as trauma so we can recognize race-based traumas in schools and act in opposition to them.
We always talk about what counts as trauma and what counts is usually some form of cognitive and developmental damage from recognizable incidents. What about other factors in the lives of our students are traumatizing, yet don’t look so on the surface? Keep reading to learn how race-based traumas go unnoticed in schools because of our narrow and deficit-based definition of what gets to count as trauma.
My name is Erin E. Silcox. I'm working on my Ph.D. in Literacy Education, focusing on the intersection of trauma and literacy. I want to deepen our base of knowledge about trauma-informed practices in schools and help teachers apply findings right now.