- Remain calm and reassuring: “We will be OK.”
- Acknowledge and normalize their feelings. Use active listening. There are no wrong feelings.
- Encourage students to use multiple forms to express their feelings about disaster-related events. Don’t force it. Follow their lead.
- Promote positive coping and problem-solving skills. Review spaces and activities they can use when feeling upset. Be flexible and model the skills.
- Emphasize their resilience and community resilience. Focus on what they have done before to feel better when upset. Identify the helpers.
- Strengthen social bonds and peer supports. Assign collaborative group work. Encourage them to be kind to each other.
- Take care of you.
- Maintain structure and routine.
- Shorter lesson plans.
- Slower pace.
- More time for personal expression and discussion.
- Plan hands-on activities.
- Structured opportunities for positive social connections.
- Expect an overall performance decline.
- Model positive coping skills.
- Stick to the facts.
- Limit media exposure.
- Elementary — Creative expressions, including drawing, writing and talking about memories, feelings and thoughts. Hands-on/active tasks, including organizing or building projects like scrapbooks or replicas, to give them a chance to organize chaotic or confusing events.
- Secondary — Creative expression like art, music, poetry, or keeping a journal to describe their feelings and experiences. Active tasks, including developing a disaster plan for their home or school, or facilitating community involvement.
Special Report: Teaching Through Trauma
This is part of our series that looks at how educators are handling students with trauma. Read more:
- Teaching Students with Trauma: Practices that work
- A Culture of Compassion: What trauma-sensitive schools look like
- Phoenix Rising: Healing after natural disasters
- Crisis in Our Classrooms: Frightened, anxious immigrant students try to focus on education
- How COVID-19 Impacts the Undocumented
- Returning to Children’s Community Charter School in Paradise
- No Such Thing as a Bad Kid: Youth-care expert Charles D. Appelstein
- Taking Care of You, Too: Educator self-care is critical
- In Their Own Words: Helping students tell what they’ve lived