“Seeing Their Eyes in the Rearview Mirror”: Identifying and Responding to Students' Challenging Experiences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


There is a noticeable gap in the educational research literature specifically focused on trauma and documenting effective educator practices. This case study captures the voice and perspectives of Mr. Sellers, an effective Black, male educator who, through making sense of the impact of his students' ecological realities, provides insight about trauma, traumatic experiences, and the ways in which he supports them. I conceptualize and name the experiences of these students as traumatic because this is the language that Mr. Sellers himself used to make sense of his students' situations. It is important to note that I focus on these occurrences not to highlight the negatives or deficits of this community; my point in naming these ecological situations is to point out how structural challenges can influence communities and, ultimately, the people (including students) in those contexts. Despite what established literature suggests about the unpreparedness of educators to respond to student trauma, this study documents effective practices of a successful educator in an urban school setting. In particular, the findings in this study offer three takeaways for educators to more adequately identify and respond to students grappling with trauma: (1) context-specific recognition, (2) trauma-conscious approaches, and (3) holistic responsiveness. The findings of this study also suggest that there is a need for broadening educators' capacity, adequately preparing them, and shifting the ways in which schools and policies understand an educator's role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-67
Number of pages15
JournalEquity and Excellence in Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of '“Seeing Their Eyes in the Rearview Mirror”: Identifying and Responding to Students' Challenging Experiences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this