As art teachers engage with big ideas such as identity, relationships, power, and conflict in art lessons, students may share experiences of trauma with teachers. Art teachers aren’t being taught how to cope with student trauma, leading to compassion fatigue, burnout, and dropout. Teacher self-care is essential with the increase in trauma-informed education. I studied with a middle school art teacher in Columbus, Ohio who was experiencing compassion fatigue. Through a critical pedagogy and post-structuralist lens, I exchanged stories with her. To represent the teacher’s voice, I turned each interview question/response into a participant-voiced poem, and responded with a researcher-voiced poem. I created short stories written from a student perspective to demonstrate student trauma by combining true stories of the students and fiction. Themes included poverty, homelessness/parents with disabilities, suicide, and single-parent homes. To demonstrate compassion fatigue solutions, the teacher and I collaboratively created an artwork, using student artworks too. Findings discussed include recommendations for support, resources, time, structure, and professional development to sustain empathetic teachers. Art teachers with students experiencing trauma and teacher preparation programs benefit from this research. With resources and training, art teachers can become powerful agents in changing students’ traumatic circumstances and instilling student resilience.
students with trauma, teacher self-care, compassion fatigue, teacher burnout & dropout, arts-based research
Copyright © 2019 Audrey Michelle Reeves
Reeves, Audrey M.
"Compassion Fatigue: Stories/Artworks of an Art Teacher with a Trauma-Informed Pedagogy,"
Marilyn Zurmuehlen Working Papers in Art Education: Vol. 2019
, Article 2.