The purpose of this action research project was to study my own teaching and find out what I could learn about how trauma affects my classes, how I can meet the challenges my students face and how I can playfully and respectfully assist them on their learning journey. The questions I asked myself that guided my research were: 1) In what ways does my teaching practice change when I approach it with a more trauma-informed lens than a less trauma-informed lens? 2) What are the different outcomes when I approach my lesson delivery with a more playful approach than with a less playful approach? and 3) In what ways do improvisational practices help my teaching from getting stagnant? I collected data from my own personal journals as I did my practicum over the last three terms, the comments from the formal observations I had and the commentaries I wrote for the planning, instruction and assessment tasks of my edTPA.

As a music teacher, one of the most important lessons I teach is one of self-acceptance. Throughout the year, it became apparent that my students needed reprieve from the daily turmoil they faced. In the case of some, they encountered two simultaneous pandemics - one after their physical health and another after their mental, emotional and spiritual health. I see my position as one who can aid in the internal struggle, as music is a healing force.

This process has helped me recognize the strengths and limitations that I face going into my teaching career. Being reflective and seeing myself through the lens of this research has transformed me, and the classrooms I meet with in the coming years will feel the effects of my findings here. We all have the ability to shape our futures - we have to be willing to stand the discomfort of not knowing long enough for the new reality to come alive in us.

Exit Requirement

Action Research

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (initial licensure)

Committee Chair

Kenneth Carano

Committee Member

Dianne Nelson


improvisation, play, collaboration, collaborative, trauma, trauma-informed



Type (DCMI Terms)

Text; Image; StillImage

Subject Categories


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