School shootings are a tragic and terrifying reality in today's society. The fear and trauma that these events inflict on students, teachers, and communities can have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being. As a community, it is important to come together to support those affected by these tragedies. In this post, we will share ways to help students and teachers cope with school shootings and the aftermath.
1. Create a Safe Space for Open Communication
In the wake of a school shooting, students and teachers may feel anxious or unsafe. It is important to create a safe and supportive environment for them to return to. One of the most important things you can do as a teacher or administrator is to create a safe space where students and teachers feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. Encourage open communication and actively listen to what they have to say. This can be achieved through regular check-ins, classroom discussions, and counseling services.
2. Provide Ongoing Mental Health Support
The aftermath of a school shooting can be a long-term process. It is important to provide ongoing mental health support to students and teachers as they continue to cope with the effects of the tragedy. This may involve providing additional counseling or support groups, as well as ongoing communication and updates on the progress of the recovery process. School shootings can cause significant emotional distress, and it is essential to provide mental health support resources to those who need it. Consider having a school psychologist or counselor available for students and teachers to talk to. Additionally, you can bring in outside mental health professionals to provide support and resources.
3. Offer Trauma-Informed Education
Trauma-informed education is an approach that recognizes the impact of trauma on students and incorporates that knowledge into how they are taught. This approach emphasizes the importance of creating a safe and supportive learning environment, providing opportunities for students to share their feelings and experiences, and offering coping strategies.
4. Provide factual information
In the wake of a school shooting, rumors, and misinformation can spread quickly. It is important to provide accurate and factual information to students and teachers. This can help to reduce anxiety and confusion and can also help to dispel rumors and false information.
5. Foster a Sense of Community
Finally, it's important to foster a sense of community within the school and the surrounding area. Encourage students and teachers to support one another and organize events that bring everyone together. This can help create a sense of belonging and provide a positive outlet for dealing with the trauma of a school shooting.
School shootings are a tragic and heartbreaking reality that can have lasting effects on students, teachers, school support staff, and communities. However, making intentional choices in how we support each other as we navigate trauma can help those most affected by these tragedies cope and heal. Let's come together as a community to support one another and create a safer future for our children and schools.
If you or someone close to you are in need of help:
Teach For America has specific wellness resources for corps members, including information on accessing free, 24/7, confidential counseling through TFA’s partnership with BetterHelp.
Coping in the Aftermath of a Shooting (American Counseling Association)
Resources for your students, their families, and your classroom
Parent Guidelines For Helping Youth After The Recent Shooting (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network – English/Spanish)
Talking to Children About Violence: Tips For Parents And Teachers (National Association of School Psychologists)
Helping Children Cope With Frightening News (Child Mind Institute)
Teaching in the Wake of Violence (Facing History and Ourselves)
An example of a calming technique to help kids with stressful situations (Coping Skills For Kids)
Younger kids may not yet have the language to express their feelings. Here's a helpful list of words for emotions. (University of California, Santa Barbara)