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Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; 2-23-051 Helping Students Cope with Loss, Death and Grief “Non-Therapeutic” Intervention.

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Presentation on theme: "Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; 2-23-051 Helping Students Cope with Loss, Death and Grief “Non-Therapeutic” Intervention."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Helping Students Cope with Loss, Death and Grief “Non-Therapeutic” Intervention for the Classroom

2 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Helping Elementary School Students – Developmental Phases Ages 5-9 start comprehending finality of death (e.g., plane crashes); Death happens to others, not them or their families; Can’t necessarily differentiate between what they see on TV and what may happen in their community.

3 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Classroom Education Process – Elementary Grades Fact Phase Explain, per written information from principal/designee, what has occurred (earthquake, shooting, accident, etc.) – factual, truthful information without causing fear. Stay calm; diffuse rumors. Reinforce safety + security. Provide structure: maintain class schedule for consistency/normalcy; however, reduce class workload as needed; proceed at slower pace/enjoyable lessons with less homework.

4 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Classroom Education Process – Elementary Grades, Continued Teaching Phase Review the normal responses that people have subsequent to a traumatic event; e.g., anxiety, fear, sleep problems, bad dreams, eat too much/too little, trouble paying attention; remember that normal responses to trauma last about 2 months. Encourage students to talk to their parents or other caring adults about their feelings, to get plenty of sleep/exercise; avoid sweets/snacking, caffeinated drinks, and TV. students to maintain their regular friendships and that normal social activities (sports, watching a non-violent movie, having friends over) can take their minds off of the loss. students who are worried about a friend or who are having a problem handling their feelings to talk to a school site crisis team member and/or a caring adult.

5 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Classroom Education Process – Elementary Grades, Continued Assessment Phase Seeing their peers’ reactions to the loss may result in fears/anxiety about their own losses or fears of loss (e.g., military families, death of family member, other loss). Be alert to such students. Assure students that, if they want to talk with someone about what they are feeling (e.g., questions about death, grief experiences, etc.) as a result of the trauma, there are adults at the school whom they can see.

6 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Classroom Education Process – Elementary Grades, Continued Follow-Up Phase Meet with principal/designee and report on students’ reactions to the traumatic event and their needs. Inform him/her regarding those specific students who need to be seen/triaged by the local school site crisis team.

7 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Helping Secondary School Students – Developmental Phases Middle School Have understanding of death as final event but may not grasp fully, especially when confronted by a barrage of media coverage May experience, as a means of coping, a variety of feelings/emotions that may be expressed as acting out or self-injurious behavior.

8 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Helping Secondary School Students – Developmental Phases High School Most teens understand death fully (e.g., resulting from auto accident, illness, September 11 disaster). May seek out friends/family for comfort or withdraw for comfort. Those with history of depression, suicidal behavior and/or chemical dependency are at greater risk for prolonged/serious grief reactions and may need careful attention from home and school.

9 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Classroom Education Process – Secondary Grades Fact Phase Explain, per written information from principal/designee, what has occurred (earthquake, shooting, accident, etc.) – factual, truthful information without causing fear Stay calm; diffusing rumors is one of the largest issues with which the school must deal Reinforce safety + security Provide structure: maintain class schedule for consistency/normalcy; however, reduce class workload as needed; slower paced/enjoyable lessons with less homework. Permit students to ask for clarification of the information presented. Provide only the factual information that has been written and verified by the principal/designee.

10 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Classroom Education Process – Secondary Grades Teaching Phase Review the normal responses that people have subsequent to a traumatic event; e.g., anxiety, fear, sleep problems, bad dreams, eat too much/too little, trouble paying attention; normal responses to trauma last about 2 months. Help students anticipate some changes in friends’ behavior; e.g. grieving friends may act differently, withdraw from friends or seem angry or very sad but that this usually does not mean a permanent change in their relationship. Encourage students to talk to their parents or other caring adults about their feelings, to get plenty of sleep/exercise; avoid sweets/snacking, caffeinated drinks, and TV. students to maintain their regular friendships and that normal social activities (sports, watching a non-violent movie, having friends over, taking trips to the mall) can take their minds off of the loss. Assure them that having fun while grieving a loss is healthy and normal. students who are worried about a friend who may be at risk of destructive behavior or who, themselves, are having a problem handling their feelings to talk to a school site crisis team member and/or a caring adult.

11 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Classroom Education Process – Secondary Grades Assessment Phase Help students to anticipate some changes in friends’ behavior. Grieving friends may withdraw, appear angry or very depressed. Seeing their peers’ reactions to the loss may result in fears/anxiety about their own losses or fears of loss (e.g., military families, death of family member, other loss). Be alert to such students. Assure students that, if they want to talk with someone about what they are feeling (e.g., questions abut death, grief experiences, etc.) as a result of the trauma, there are adults whom they can see.

12 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Classroom Education Process – Secondary Grades Provide options for support: suggest making cards or other forms of expression for those who have suffered a loss, helping others with chores (it helps us to cope when we help others). Caution students to not “keep the secret” if a friend is very depressed and/or is talking about suicide; encourage them to seek a caring adult or member of the school’s crisis team.

13 Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; Classroom Education Process – Secondary Grades Follow-Up Phase Students who have lost a loved or who have friends/peers who have suffered traumatic losses may experience the most dramatic feelings of fear, anxiety and loss. Carefully observe such students for signs of traumatic stress, depression, suicidal thinking. Meet with principal/designee and report on students’ reactions to the traumatic event and their needs. Inform him/her regarding those specific students who need to be seen/triaged by the local school site crisis team.


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