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Resources for Teachers Dealing With Tragedy in the Classroom

Resources for Teachers Dealing with Tragedy in the Classroom

“[L]ike life, death is ubiquitous,” says Kelly Michelson, who works in pediatric critical care medicine.

Michelson has shared with the Washington Post’ s Valerie Strauss how teachers can handle dealing with inevitable tragedy that strikes the classroom with even the youngest grade school learners.

“…most kids will endure the death of a family member or friend before their eighteenth birthday. Research in 2012 by the New York Life Foundation and the American Federation of Teachers found that 7 out of 10 teachers have a student in their classroom who is grieving. With more than 25 shootings in K-12 schools so far this year, too many students have an up-close look at death in the classroom,” Michelson said.

While Michelson agrees that parents and guardians “should take the lead” when addressing tragedy with their children, “children may still turn to trusted teachers,” and skirting or avoiding the issue can be detrimental to the child affected by death.

In other words, being prepared to handle the topic is an important task for a teacher to handle in addition to his or her other responsibilities.

Michelson has highlighted some resources for teachers to use when discussing death and tragedy in the classroom.

She recommends schools partner with health care professionals available in the school’s town that have expertise in bereavement issues, and provides two resources for teachers to refer to as well. 

She points to “Coping with the Death of a Student or a Staff Member” from the U.S. Department of Education and the website from the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, which includes "information, insights, and practical advice [individuals] need to better understand and meet the needs of the millions of grieving kids in America’s classrooms.

“Learning to cope with life’s tragedies is as important as reading, writing or arithmetic. Having teachers who know how to talk about death in age-appropriate ways will help our students heal, learn, and grow,” she says.

Read Michelson’s full article here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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