Responding To A Crisis At School: How Can Educators Help
A crisis at school can include anything from environmental disaster management to gun violence or students committing suicide. Among these, gun violence seems to be a pressing matter. In 2021, there were 149 reported incidents of gunfire in schools across the US that claimed 32 lives and injured another 94.
Hence, educators should always be ready to respond quickly and effectively when a crisis at school arises, regardless of its nature. But when disaster strikes, it is sometimes challenging for anyone to react appropriately. Mismanagement of an emergency at school can have severe consequences on people’s lives, especially students. To prevent problems from escalating, here’s what you as an educator can do.
Remember that the situation is a learning opportunity
You must resist the urge to lecture students about their behavior instead of discovering what motivates them. It is essential to teach students they always have choices and that managing their feelings and behavior can influence how they react in a crisis.
You can learn about the signs of mental health conditions that could lead to a crisis at school. You can also learn how to support someone in a traumatic experience. Doing so will help identify student behavior that could harm others on campus. You can also help develop a crisis management strategy, spread awareness about it, and ensure proper implementation during a situation on campus.
Specialized education in this regard will come in handy. Therefore, educators can enroll in an online MSE Crisis & Trauma to quickly upskill. The online route enables professional educators and staff to equip themselves with the proper know-how to design and implement strategies in times of fight and fight.
Get students’ parents involved
If you feel a student is showing signs of problematic behavior, you should notify the student’s parents. The parents may then intervene and get the child the help they need off-campus. However, it would also help if the school arranged for a psycho-educational assessment and professional counseling to help students cope with mental health issues.
Watch out for signs of suicidal behavior
If a student has thoughts of suicide, you mustn’t leave them alone. It is crucial to get help immediately and contact mental health services. School staff should also be aware of warning signs of such behavior, such as a student giving away prized possessions, changes in behavior or attitude, and high anxiety levels. It would help to connect with a suicide prevention body. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential support 24 hours a day.
A crisis at school can be emotionally and physically taxing. Therefore, self-care is important when helping students in trouble. You should never forget to take care of yourself. It may be beneficial for you to take a break from the classroom if things get overwhelming. Depressed educators can withdraw from students and even give up in general. So, educators need to see a health care professional regarding their mental health and focus on what they can do to manage their stability. This will prevent them from lashing out at students.
Use preventative strategies
You need to know what resources are available to you, staff, and students. Spread awareness about these resources to better inform people about what to do in a fight or flight situation. For example, you can help students learn coping strategies for dealing with stress, such as meditation and mindfulness exercises. This information will help them take better care of themselves. Help them identify triggers and ways to avoid them.
When a student is in crisis, they may need time off or an alternate assignment to receive help. After a student returns to school, the staff should support them and make them feel welcome. Educators and students should work together to prevent mental health problems.
Go beyond traditional help
You can increase students’ awareness of mental health issues. Openly discuss common mental health conditions and current affairs to ensure students are more aware. You can teach students about emotional literacy, self-awareness, coping strategies, and how to deal with stress in healthy ways. You can also practice empathy, self-care, and emotional awareness yourself. The results will be healthy students and healthier adults.
If we want our children to become healthy adults, we need to provide a safe and nurturing school environment. Educators can mitigate the effects of a school crisis by developing a proper plan, increasing awareness about mental health issues, and encouraging students to get help when they need it. These strategies aim to make students and teachers feel welcome and supported in their school environments.