Building Resilience

Junior and Senior High:

  • Older students should be offered opportunities for more thorough discussion and exploration of the details of the event and their reactions. (See clinical skills section). Depending on the nature of the traumatic event, they will likely need to take at least one whole class period for discussion (and many students may need follow-up in smaller groups).
  • In the event of a natural disaster, ask students to discuss how they might help the community rebuilding effort.
  • Have the students read literature or novels related to hardship, disaster, and survival.
  • Encourage expressive arts, including drawing, painting, and writing about the loss or disaster.
  • If a member of the class has died, students can design an "in-class” memorial for the student.
  • Have students write related science and psychology papers.
  • Ask students to write about "good” that can come from pain – What have they learned? How have they grown?
  • In the event of a student or teacher death, students can write memory books individually or together as a group to present to the family. Help students "make meaning” out of seemingly meaningless losses. Brainstorm ideas to make the school safer, or prepare the community for disasters. If students can actually activate an idea, they will regain a sense of mastery and control.
  • Talk to the students directly about the "stinkin’ thinking” that can happen after a traumatic event, such as believing that the school will never be safe again, or that they will never be happy again. Ask students to list the "stinkin’ thinking” and then have the group write challenge statements to the negative thoughts.