Tips for Teachers
Teachers are among the most important adults in the transition and recovery of students impacted by a natural disaster or other crisis. Their efforts will begin to give students a sense of stability, security and belonging. Not only will students look to teachers for support, but the learning process and social environment of the classroom can all contribute to their ability to cope.
Some students will cope fairly well early on and may have difficulty in the weeks or months ahead. Still others will be resilient when surrounded by caring and supportive adults.
Some students may have difficulty concentrating, may feel a need for success or may exhibit anger.
It is important to ensure that displaced students feel welcomed and supported and that they are not bullied or ostracized. Teachers should make sure that students understand that bullying will be taken seriously and will not be tolerated. It is helpful to establish clear expectations about bullying and to discuss those expectations with students.
Students will also benefit from teachers who:
- Care and reassure students that they will be okay.
- Avoid using television programs to watch disaster-related events (especially for younger elementary school students).
- Maintain consistent and fair discipline.
- Provide flexibility such as extra time to do work, extra support for challenging subjects and different ways of showing competence.
- Show empathy for what they are going through and make time to listen.
- Help them feel welcomed and part of a social group.
- Allow them to keep in contact with others who survived the disaster.
- Provide a variety of methods and opportunities to express their reactions to the disaster and to tell their stories of survival, if they want to.
- Create opportunities to do something to help others, even in small ways. Group activities such as fundraising events are ideal because they also reinforce a sense of connectedness.
Teachers may already have children in their schools who are experiencing life stress and are not receiving the support provided to those who have been displaced by a natural disaster. This can provide fuel for contention, so teachers should try to ensure fairness and help for all students including those coping with distressing events. teachers