Teacher understanding of trauma in the classroom and their professional learning experiences: every little bit counts

Kate B. Eastman*, Anne McMaugh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent studies have identified a growing need for educators to be trauma-informed. However, there is limited understanding of teacher trauma literacy or their professional learning and teaching experience. This study reports a new measure of teacher trauma literacy and is the first known study to assess the trauma and mental health literacy alongside the professional learning and self-efficacy of primary school teachers. The study examines teacher professional learning and teacher self-efficacy as potential factors influencing teacher trauma literacy. Participants were 139 Australian primary (elementary) school teachers. Results show that fewer than half of all teachers had received any trauma-related professional learning, while around half had received mental health-related professional learning. Teacher trauma literacy was significantly lower than teacher mental health literacy, while total hours of trauma professional learning were lower than mental health learning hours. Even at these low levels, the experience of trauma professional learning predicted higher teacher trauma literacy scores, along with their self-efficacy and experience teaching children with trauma and mental health conditions. The implications of teacher professional learning for teacher understanding of trauma and opportunities for building positive self-efficacy are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalProfessional Development in Education
Early online date11 Dec 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2022


  • trauma literacy
  • professional learning
  • mental health literacy
  • childhood trauma
  • school psychology
  • teacher self-efficacy
  • trauma-informed


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