Trauma- Informed Pedagogy in your FWS Classroom

The KNIGHTLYnews is an online forum where FWS instructors and other teachers of writing can swap and share ideas for best classroom practice. Weekly posts are designed to help teachers develop lesson plans and writing assignments, and respond to classroom challenges by introducing new teaching tools and sharing emerging pedagogical ideas. Posts also direct readers to program and campus resources that support teaching and learning, and provide opportunities for peer collaboration and mentorship. #teachlikeabear

It’s early in the semester, and we are all beginning to build a writing community in our First- Year Writing Seminars.

As FWS instructors, we are leading young scholars into university academic writing and into new Cornell University experiences. Importantly, as writers sharing a writing space in which to learn about ideas and writing, we are also expressing our thoughts and emotions. In doing so, we all bring with us our own stories and the stories of not only our experiences, but also the experiences of our generations and our cultures. Some of these events are unique, some are shared, and they include the most wonderful and challenging aspects of life. Some of our students may be working through trauma from various life circumstances including the SARS COVID-19 pandemic, environmental or political relocation, gender or racial bias, and family or personal difficulties to name a few.


What is trauma?

a range of events, incidences, accidents, and life situations as well as their impact and consequences on a person or group of people.


What can FWS Instructors to do maintain a trauma- inclusive classroom?

In general, FWS instructors should focus on teaching writing while keeping awareness of their students’ wellbeing.

  • Be transparent on your syllabus and with your students about course expectations.
  • Focus on teaching writing -- refer students to qualified support services.
  • Be respectful and charitable to students and expect them to treat others well.
  • Meet with students individually early in the semester and get to know them.
  • Keep aware of concerning student performance or behavior.
  • Maintain High Academic Standards.
  • Teach about Plagiarism. This varies across cultures and warrants instruction and practice.Provide extra conferences with your students when necessary.
  • Give students plenty of time to think, talk, and produce writing.


Remember, you are not a therapist or a counselor. You are a writing instructor.


The following expert support services are on campus for your students.

Academic support

List of general support services



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