Teachers Respond to National Tragedy
This morning I reflected once again, on the important roles we all play in the lives of so many children. This past week was an emotional roller coaster for so many of us. Glued to the news, many of us saw images and scenes play out that seemed more like clips from a film (set anywhere but here) than breaking news.
As educators, we do our best to control our students’ experiences… to set them up for discovery, inquiry, and success. One variable that remains out of our control is our students’ experiences outside of school.
Many of us tomorrow, will return to our students and to our schools after a week away.
Know that each of your students, and each of their families experienced this week differently. Know that someone’s aunt ran the Boston marathon on Monday, and spent 6 hours waiting for her call at his grandmother’s home full of anxious family members.
Know that another student was visiting family just outside of Boston last week, looking forward to a trip to the aquarium, and witnessed the military presence in Watertown firsthand. What should have been a special sleepover with Aunt Sue and Uncle Ed turned into a vigil around the TV… far from her parents, and close to the very raw emotions of two impulsive adults who failed to censor their own racial and ethnic intolerance.
How will you respond to a student who makes a comment in class tomorrow that you know ‘came right from Aunt Sue’s mouth?’ Don’t spend Monday night saying “If only I had seen that coming…” What can you do to frame any discussions so that does not happen?
Here are some resources I found very helpful this morning…
Promoting Tolerance and Peace in Children: Tips for Parents and Schools from the National Association of School Psychologists
This brief article shares some clear messages (9) worth delivering to students. Read this to feel prepared to respond to students. This might also be a good resource to have on hand to share with parents.
How Children Cope With Trauma and Ongoing Threat: The BASIC Ph Model
I wish I had read this article several years ago, but~ better late than never! This describes the 6 different ways we all cope with trauma. It’s like the author knows a couple of my former students personally!!
Children and Fear of War and Terrorism: Tips for Parents and Teachers
This article outlines the emotional responses that we can expect from children~ Another great share for parents.
I think this is a book I’d like to add to my classroom library.
I found it on this list, put out by the Association of School Psychologists.
Jenny Is Scared: When Sad Things Happen in the World by Carol Shuman.
I love using picture books (at all grade levels) to dig into difficult topics.
Whatever your school day tomorrow brings, know that your actions, words and choices shape our students’ perceptions of the world around them. Your work has the potential to increase tolerance in our communities and help students feel safe.
I believe this is the most important role we play as educators, it’s where we have the greatest influence and it’s how we build a strong future. We do it everyday. Tomorrow, don’t second guess your instincts. Spend the extra time conferencing with a student who seems sad, even if it means you don’t get to spelling. Rely on your guidance counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, administrators and parents. You’re a team.
Thank you for taking your responsibility to our students so seriously, doing this work and planning carefully for tomorrow.