"Going There": Strategies for Teaching Trauma Literature in High School English
Roundtable Discussion: Amber Moore
Session E | 11:05 – 11:45 | Location: Room 304
The goal for this roundtable discussion is to generate conversation around and ideate about how secondary educators might approach, prepare for, and execute curriculum centered around trauma literature in the English classroom. Trauma literature is indeed ‘risky’; stories dealing with intense subject matter such as grief, violence, mental health struggles, substance abuse, sexual assault, and so forth, are certainly intimidating topics for any teacher to broach with students, even when using literature as a vehicle to do so. However, such experiences cannot be ignored; it is important that adolescents have opportunities to engage with trauma stories (Andermahr & Pellicer-Ortin, 2013; Balalev, 2008; Crawford, 2005; Dutro, 2008; Whitehead, 2004), and indeed, “We cannot be complacent about how difficult experiences function in schools, because… the hard stories pile up” (Dutro, 2011, pp. 195-6). As such, educators must brainstorm strategies and best practices to employ when embarking on this critical literacy work in their classrooms. Drawing from my experience teaching high school English for six years, my findings from my MA thesis, The Role of Trauma Literature in the Secondary English Classroom (2016), and my current PhD work with the Language and Literacy Education department at UBC, I aim to guide a critical and hopeful conversation about addressing difficult subject matter with adolescents in the literacy classroom.