Normal Is As Normal Does: Writing Through Trauma In The Classroom

  • Have them write a letter to someone about this experience.
  • Tell them to call a grandparent and ask that grandparent if they remember a time when they had to sacrifice for the good of others. Have them document that discussion.
  • Ask students to consider how they are experiencing social distancing, and then have them write about how another community — one vastly different from their own — is dealing with it.
  • Show them how to keep a ledger. Don’t journal, but just literally write down everything done each day and save it for posterity.
  • Offer them an opportunity to start an email chain letter with friends.
  • Give them space to draw. Drawing is, afterall, the earliest form of composition.
  • Share writing prompts with them every day (full of choice) and have them “Write Into the Day.”
  • Have them peruse The New York Times Learning Network for writing/picture prompts.
  • Employ flux pedagogy practices by offering “Create for Agency” prompts like: What are your daily, middle level, or long-term goals? If you, your teachers, or your family members aren’t attentive to how you deal with challenges, how does that make you feel? What can you do to change that?
  • Enable them to start their morning with a chat with a few of their friends each aiming to share something special to carry them through the day. (I do this with two of my colleagues. One of them selects a song she has us (and her students) listen to. One tells us what all of the “National day ofs” are, and I share the quotations that I send out to my students. The practice is, as my student wrote to me, “comforting.”)

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