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Addressing traumatic public events in the classroom

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Traumatic public events inevitably impact our classrooms and homes. We can approach them as important opportunities to address difficult issues and develop emotional protective factors in children and adolescents.

First, let us reflect on how it has impacted us, as adults, what feelings have awakened us and what do they respond to? What makes us remember any personal experience? It is important to consider that there is no “right” way to react to an emotional impact. We react in different ways and must respect each other’s times and ways.

Then we can discuss it with our students. The Berkeley School of Education recommends Group reflection (http://bit.ly/2IJPTxs). It is important to try to have enough time not to cut off valuable reflection. How are we going to deal with this? Our goal can be as simple as creating a safe space for our students to express their thoughts and emotions about the crisis. Let us accompany intense emotions with tranquility, openness and assertiveness, taking into account that each student will process the event in a unique way, according to their personal experiences.

It is very useful to recognize the emotional impact by providing a few minutes of silence, accompanied by a personal writing exercise, where students can respond privately to the emotional impact. Once Group reflection begins, some will prefer to remain silent, and that’s okay, too. As moderators, let’s Share our own feelings and the different ways to process the event. Distinguishing between more analytical and emotional comments can help guide students. Finally, let’s have a strategy to shut down space. Again, an exercise in written reflection can be useful. We must be vigilant to accompany any crisis and, if necessary, seek specialized psychological care.

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