Traumatic events are a part of our reality. The media and technological advances have given us instant access to information, but accessing this information can have serious effects on the students and adults in our school buildings. Knowing how to recognize the signs of someone who is impacted by these events is critical. Equally important is how the school responds to such events. In this module, you will have the opportunity to extend your knowledge by planning how to craft your messages should such an event impact members of your school community.
- Webinar: “Talking about Terrorism with Your School Community,” December 1, 2015.
- Reading: “Helping Children Cope with Terrorism—Tips for Families and Educators,” National Association of School Psychologists, 2015.
- Discussion Prompts
- Trauma Response Planning Template
- Computer with internet connection for webinar and website resource review.
- Extend the learning of the administrative or leadership team by having it listen to the webinar and review the online reading. As participants read and listen to the webinar, ask each to take notes about significant learnings and resource information pertinent to their school and stakeholders.
- Debrief the notes taken on the resources by asking team members to share their thoughts. Use the Discussion Prompts to guide your conversation.
- Assign a notetaker to record the thoughts of the administrative team.
- As a group, consider and list the various subgroup populations in your school. Compare your groups with those in the left column of the Trauma Response Planning Template. Be sure all of your listed groups are included or added at the bottom of the template. Work through the template to proactively plan when and how these subgroup individuals should be involved. Complete the three columns in the Trauma Response Planning Template.
- Once you know who is involved and how, you will need to plan the appropriate message for each stakeholder subgroup. For each of the following scenarios, craft a short script on behalf of each of the subgroup populations in the matrix. Following your learnings from the resources, use language appropriate for each subgroup. Complete the template for each scenario. Discuss and debrief the responses in each completed template before beginning a new scenario.
- There has been a shooting at a high school in your district. Several of your students travel to that high school to attend a foreign language class.
- Overnight, there was a fire in the community. Two firefighters were killed trying to extinguish the fire. You have a staff member whose husband is a firefighter and you know of at least two students who have parents who are firefighters.
- Overnight, there was a terrorist attack at an airport overseas. The media is reporting that several people were killed or injured and some of them are Americans. A student who graduated from your school and has a sister currently attending your school is an exchange student in the affected area.
- Ask your team to work in pairs and either assign or have them choose two of the subgroups you have identified on the left side of your chart. Have them consider each of the scenarios as examples of traumatic events one might encounter at school and plan the message for each of the subgroup populations they are working with. How might their message need to change based on the different groups selected? Ask the pairs to be prepared to present their message at the next leadership team meeting.
Extend and Apply
- Have each discussion group bring its completed Trauma Response Planning Templates to the next leadership team meeting. Debrief each of the scenarios, evaluating the scripts and comparing the responses through the lens of the webinar and website resources. Ask participants to highlight any information that would enhance their script. Discuss additions or revisions as needed. Provide time to refine the message.
- Report out by reading a scenario and having the pair(s) responsible for that particular group share their short message.
- Spend time discussing how the message may change based on the intended audience. For example, you may not use the same language in the message to staff as the message to students. Note the differences, working through each scenario.
- Now create an action plan based on how you will use this information. Will it become part of your school safety plan? Does your school have a team or committee responsible for school communications?
- Have the administrative or leadership team share the webinar, website reading, and Trauma Response Planning Templates with the full faculty in a meeting. Discuss completing the matrix for one or two of the scenarios. Debrief.
- Ask members of the administrative team to review the existing staff written in column two of the template and identify additional faculty/staff members who might be added. Establish protocols for the team in the dissemination of school information and practices.