School Psychologist Resources: Returning to School After a Crisis

School Psychologist Resources Returning to School After a Crisis
Cross Country Education
November 22, 2022 02:38 AM (GMT-04:00)
Educator Resources

Tools to Help Your School Community Heal

As a school psychologist, you’ll be a huge part of the coping and healing process if your school community experiences trauma. It’s critical to have a plan in place well in advance of any unforeseen crisis like a school shooting, public health emergency, severe weather, act of terrorism, or death of a member of the school. You’ll likely help lead the charge to help protect the mental health and well-being of students as they cope with the crisis and return to school.

All members of your school community, whether they’re children, teens or adults – students, teachers, support staff or administrators, will need time to process and talk about the events. They won’t be able to jump back into learning immediately. They’ll need a safe space to begin to heal. And you’ll need to take care of yourself as well. That’s why having an advance strategy is so critical.

To help you create a tailored plan for returning to school after a crisis, we’ve selected these three top resources with research-based guidance on dealing with trauma.

Top 3 Resources for Returning to School After a Crisis

National Center for School Safety

Returning to School After a Crisis: A Guide to Addressing Traumatic Events at School is a downloadable 16-page guide from the National Center for School Safety and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The guide covers:

  • Best practices in having conversations with students about the traumatic event
  • Steps for discussing the event
  • Strategies for managing trauma and stress responses
  • Warning signs of suicide and mental health risks
  • Supporting students on their first day back
  • Stress management techniques
  • Mental health and crisis resources
  • Student resources

For example, when returning to school on the first day back after a crisis:

  1. Give students time to discuss at the beginning and end of the day.
  2. Limit time spent on the discussion to keep students from becoming fatigued.
  3. Normalize feelings and emotions.
  4. Model your own emotions by saying, “I am feeling ___. What about you?”
  5. Use feelings pictures if needed.
  6. Provide crayons and papers to let children draw and express their feelings
  7. live practical suggestions to help them feel in control of the present moment.
  8. Let them know it is ok to cry.

National Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

Supporting Schools During and After Crisis: A Guide to Supporting States, Districts, Schools, Educators, and Students through a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Framework is a resource from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs and Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The guide covers:

  • Practices to support students’ social, emotional, and behavioral (SEB) growth and learning
  • Ways to implement key systems to support educators and students across
  • Guidance for state, district and school leadership teams as well as educators
  • Examples of practices for remote and in-person learning

For example, when returning to school after a crisis:

  1. Hold team meetings to address rapidly changing needs
  2. Monitor team member wellness
  3. Provide professional development activities for staff focused on evidence-based practices
  4. Implement SEB coaching plans
  5. Screen for students who need more intensive academic and non-academic supports
  6. Examine disaggregated data to promote equity
  7. Promote staff and student wellness and relationships

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Returning to School After an Emergency or Disaster: Tips to Help Your Students Cope provides advice from the CDC and links to multiple resources.

The page houses links to resources on:

  • Coping after a disaster activity pages
  • Helping children cope in emergencies
  • Red Cross disaster relief and recovery services
  • NIH coping with traumatic events
  • Steps to protect children during emergencies during the school day
  • FEMA coping with disasters

The article advises that educators should:

  1. Talk to students in a way they can understand that is age appropriate.
  2. Learn about common reactions by age range.
  3. Encourage students to share and ask questions.
  4. React calmly and confidently to instill security.
  5. Be aware that some children may become upset again if reminded of the disaster.

Hopefully, you won’t face a crisis at your school and will not have to use these resources. However, bookmarking these pages and using the information to create a plan can help ensure you’ll be prepared to help keep your school community healthy and well.

Find out where your specialized skills are needed most across the nation: see our latest school psychologist jobs!

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