The COVID-19 Pandemic as Trauma on Secondary Educators and Their Students: A Phenomenological Study

Jean Marie Hurley, Fordham University


The SARS CoV-2 (“COVID-19”) pandemic accomplished something that few events in the world have done previously: it traumatized an entire planet. Whether directly affected by the disease, or by extension affected by the closing of businesses, lockdowns or stay-at-home orders, every population was negatively impacted by the virus. Students were especially impacted which led to stunted social-emotional growth, academic loss, and in some cases, death. Teachers were expected to pivot overnight to totally transform their methods of teaching and interacting with students yet were given next to no assistance or tools with which to do so. This study explored the phenomenon of traumatized high school teachers instructing traumatized high school students during and after the initiating trauma. Seven themes arose from the interviews conducted with teachers from across the country: (1) difficulty of administrators in supporting teachers and students, (2) technological inequity during times of crisis, (3) inadequate understanding of trauma-informed teaching, (4) student challenges (social-emotional and academic), (5) student successes, (6) teacher behaviors, and (7) recommendations and best practices. trauma-informed teaching, a practice which takes into consideration mitigating factors in terms of student behaviors, would have benefitted many teachers and students, but was left out of the toolbox. It is recommended that in future professional development opportunities, teachers are given in-depth training on trauma-informed teaching and best practices including prioritizing personal wellbeing.

Subject Area

Education|Education Policy|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Hurley, Jean Marie, "The COVID-19 Pandemic as Trauma on Secondary Educators and Their Students: A Phenomenological Study" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30417518.