Facilitating a SOTL community of practice for teaching in a trauma-sensitive classroom
Keywords:Trauma-sensitive teaching, scholarship of teaching and learning, SoTL, Community of practice
How can we support faculty in enhancing student learning and creating a welcoming learning environment in a trauma-sensitive classroom? The research shows that fostering the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) is more effective through faculty learning communities compared to individual teaching grants, seminars, and workshops for faculty (see Cox, 2003).
This paper presents the case study of building a faculty learning community, or a community of practice (Wenger et al., 2002), among faculty in the university weekend/preparatory program for refugees (OLIve) in Budapest and Berlin in AY 2020-2021. Refugee learners carry diverse experiences of displacement, having endured a unique trauma as a result of conflict in their homeland. Since trauma affects students’ capacity to learn and develop academic skills (see Kroó, 2020), it is even more important to provide tailored support to faculty who teach them. Community of practice (CoP) aimed to support faculty development along the continuum of growth towards the scholarship of teaching - from reflecting and growing in their own teaching, to engaging in a dialogue with colleagues about their teaching practises (see Weston & McAlpine, 2001).
We present strategies, processes, and activities used to build the CoP - by providing a safe and supportive online space in which faculty can share and discuss challenges, investigate new approaches to teaching, and with the help of facilitators, engage with relevant SoTL research. The discussed approach is not only relevant to any trauma sensitive classroom, but also more broadly for building CoP and supporting faculty, especially in a challenging pandemic context.