Helping Students Cope with Traumatic Events

By Joetta Sack-Min

Resources show how educators can work with students who are showing signs of stress from recent events.

Reacting to the mass shooting in Las Vegas, several Learning First Alliance members are sharing their lessons and resources so that educators can better identify and meet the emotional needs of their students who are showing stress.  

Share My Lesson, the American Federation of Teachers’ website of lesson plans and other resources contributed by teachers, includes a section on The Social Emotional Learning and Health that has more than 1,900 lessons on building a positive school climate, and AFT has updated its section on Helping Students Cope with Traumatic Events.

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) has compiled information on its website, and shares these tips:

• Try and keep routines as normal as possible. Kids gain security from the predictability of routine, including attending school.
• Limit exposure to television and the news.

• Be honest with kids and share with them as much information as they are developmentally able to handle.
• Listen to kids’ fears and concerns.
• Reassure kids that the world is a good place to be, but that there are people who do bad things.
• Parents and adults need to first deal with and assess their own responses to crisis and stress.
• Rebuild and reaffirm attachments and relationships.


ASCA also has three webinars for helping students:

The National Education Association has an article, Mass Shooting in Las Vegas: How to Talk to Students, that first advises educators to assure students they are safe. NEA President Lily Eskelsen García wrote a blog post, “Make it Stop,” to share her thoughts on the senseless killings that included several educators.

The National PTA offers tips on discussing difficult situations with children and resources on violence prevention to help avert another tragedy. 

Other resources include a guide on Talking to Children About Violence by the National Association of School Psychologists.

Finally, learn how the Topeka school district is implementing trauma-informed strategies and training teachers to deal with toxic stress in a new article by American School Board Journal.

Updated 10/6/17

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stressed student in class