Dominant framings of trauma-informed pedagogy are currently grounded in a purely biomedical understanding of trauma, often locating ‘problems’ to be solved in individual students or communities, and engendering ‘solutions’ that focus on discourses of self-regulation and control. While these framings are slowly giving way to broader environmental understandings of trauma and marginalized youth, a deeper understanding of ecologies of privilege, disposession, and relationships to/with trauma is needed to understand the role(s) that schooling might play in mitigating traumatic experiences and their effects on young people. In particular, many students of color who are working-class or experiencing poverty must navigate racialized, gendered, and classed hierarchies alongside labels positioning them as ‘bad’ students as they work to earn a high school diploma and enact desired post-secondary life paths. This paper draws on data from an ongoing study of adolescent scholars in a “second-chance” trauma-informed secondary-level program, and offers selections from a focus group that demonstrates the importance of young people’s meaning-making when exploring what might make for generative “trauma-informed” pedagogies. Specifically, this paper argues for a focus on identity work and narrative to further ecological understandings of privilege, dispossession, and how young people take up trauma discourse to make meaning of their past experiences, their current realities, and their future possibilities.

Author Biography

Noah Golden

Noah Asher Golden is an assistant professor in the College of Education at California State University, Long Beach. His scholarship investigates the identity enactments and (re)positioning practices of minoritized youth, and is situated within critical and sociocultural approaches to literacies research and teaching/learning practice. His current project builds knowledge on the ways adolescent scholars of color navigate identity positionings and racialized, gendered, and classed hierarchies in a trauma-informed alternative high school program.



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