Dealing with Tragedy: Online Resources for Discussing Difficult News with Students

The city of Boston is in our thoughts today, and our hearts go out to the victims of the senseless tragedy that took place at the Boston Marathon.

The news is hard enough for adults to grapple with; and it’s even more difficult to explain horrific events like these to young students. We’ve included links to sites that provide advice for teachers and parents on discussing sad or scary news with students and children, which we hope will be of use to educators when questions about today’s events come up in the classroom.

10 Ways to Talk to Students About Sensitive Issues in the News

  • New York Times’ “The Learning Network” published a guest post by Jinnie Spiegler, who shared advice on how to conduct classroom discussion around sensitive subjects. Tips for teachers include creating a respectful and safe environment for students, preparing for the discussion by researching the topic at hand, being responsive to students’ feelings and values, communicating with parents about class discussions, and encouraging students to take action through additional research, a community service project, outreach to a senator, or starting a petition. This resource is meant for older students — middle school or high school aged.

10 Tips for Talking with Students About Tragedy

  • Scholastic interviewed psychologist and therapist Dr. Robin Goodman about addressing student concerns around tragic events. Dr. Goodman discusses the role of the teacher when discussing tragedies, how teachers should address their own emotions, how much information to share with students, what to do if a student becomes upset, and stressors that can trigger student reactions.

5 Tips on Talking to Kids About Scary News 

  • CNN Living published this article by Sasha Emmons of Parenting.com, who provides advice on sharing tragic news with young students. The article recommends not sharing news with children under the age of seven unless they bring it up, assuring students they’re safe, asking students how they feel and what they think happened, letting them know it’s okay to feel scared, and talking about compassion. This resource is meant for parents and elementary school teachers whose students are aware of a tragedy that occurred.

Parent/Teacher Chat: Helping Families Cope with Tragedy & Loss 

  • eFACE (Electronic Family And Community Engagement) Today, a blog for parents and teachers using technology with children and students, conducted a parent/teacher chat (#ptchat) on Twitter on how to talk to students about tragedy. You can find strategies on dealing with difficult news discussed during the chat, archived here, including what teachers can do to support students and outside resources that are available to families, including counseling sites and online trauma tool kits for educators. This resource can be used by parents and teachers of all ages both in and out of the classroom.

Mister Rogers on Helping Children with Scary News

  • PBS Kids posted thoughts from Mister Rogers, who provides advice that’s directed at young children, but is relevant for older students and teachers alike, on keeping faith in humanity even after horrific events have occurred: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

 

Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.

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About Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.