Teaching in times of stress and trauma

November 3, 2020 | Claudia Stanny

Teaching in times of stress and trauma

We are teaching during extraordinary times. COVID-19 imposes constraints on the physical environments in which we teach. We live in politically charged times, driven by multiple issues: climate change, Black Lives Matter, Me Too, and a divisive and hotly contested political election. Students, faculty, and staff are roiled by the emotions of these times. Many have direct experience with these issues and are coping with tangible consequences – financial or legal difficulties, compromised health, responsibilities as a caregiver, or grief for a lost loved one.

A number of teaching centers have created resources to guide faculty about teaching during difficult times. The Teaching and Learning Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education has compiled an annotated collection of these resources, which are available as a shared PDF (see the link below).

Resources include advice about four broad topics:

  • Teaching in traumatic times. Trauma may be local (a tragedy on campus) or more widespread (a natural disaster such as a hurricane, flood, or global pandemic).
  • Discussing difficult topics. Managing class discussions when public controversies are relevant to disciplinary content. 
  • Teaching during elections.
  • Anti-racist, equitable teaching. Advice about offsetting problems of structural racism and implicit biases in the classroom.



Teaching in times of strife & trauma. Teaching & Learning Lab, Harvard Graduate School of Education. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VXRzDpNOri7JAGyqNv_AFMhCGCEM7NS54yPX0eCgxa4/edit

11/03/2020 ajc