CRISIS COMMUNICATION GUIDANCE FOR CMSD STAFF
In the event of civil unrest in the city or student unrest in our schools, It’s important to say something even if you aren’t sure what to say. You might begin by admitting to students that—like them—you are shocked, disappointed, frustrated, angry, confused, hurt or uncomfortable. Students at any age understand these feelings and will appreciate your humility, compassion and vulnerability, especially Black and Brown students.
Our social and emotional learning training makes it clear that, laying this foundation for students to express their feelings is critical for providing a safe environment for them to thrive during times of crisis.
Next, you might begin to explain why you are feeling this way, although many students will already know why. And then, after you begin the conversation, step back, sit down and be quiet. Let your students lead. Let them speak and ask questions. Allow them, the opportunity to be “in front” of what they are feeling rather than reacting to it. “
Consider offering Guidelines for students to use to ground a discussion:
- Listen deeply, demonstrate respect, speak your own truth.
- If you pass on expressing your feelings, you’ll have a chance to share your thoughts at the end.
- Honor each other’s voice.
- It’s okay to not feel okay
- When learning remotely, use the chat box to say “
- Create space for students to share their feelings. This may be easier for some students to do in writing or through chatting in a virtual space.
SAMPLE QUESTIONS TO GUIDE DISCUSSIONS
- What is one word that you are feeling right now?
- What’s coming up for you right now?
- Where are you feeling it most and why?
- What supports do you need? How are you caring for yourself right now?
Give students a choice. While many students desire and need space to talk about difficult topics at school and with trusted adults and peers, some students will not want to engage. Here are some options for supportive discussions:
- Provide time and space to process and support staff and students
- Employ relevant, independent work to keep the brain distracted (this could be content-specific or a coloring sheet to promote self-care)
- Time away from the computer may remove the temptation for students to absorb themselves in the news and the national reaction
Add lesson plans here [organize by k-8 and HS
SELF CARE RESOURCES
A gentle reminder for us all: Caring for ourselves is also an act of caring for our school community to reaffirm our own resiliency and commitment to stay “in the work.” When we keep this intention, we demonstrate our own strategies for self-care and model for others the manner in which we can show grace when confronting our problems or asking for help.
Add social-emotional links here
STAFF GUIDANCE ON PUBLIC PROTEST
While ongoing public protests are likely during times of heightened anxiety, we understand that CMSD employees may want to share their voices through joining a protest.
CMSD respects the right of all employees to express their first amendment rights. We ask that CMSD staff who choose to get involved in protests do so protests do so only on your own behalf, on your personal time and not as employees of CMSD. Refrain from wearing any item that identifies you as a CMSD staff member if you take part in the protests. Be aware of conditions and stay safe as you participate.
Race may be raised as a topic of conversation in your classroom
The racism and violence that has been highlighted in these tragic incidents may be widely discussed among some students in our schools. As appropriate and as they are comfortable, teachers should give students the opportunity to process their feelings, how this feels to them personally, and how they are impacted by this verdict and related social justice issues.
Understanding that every educator will approach this differently, MPS offers the following resources that are appropriate both to the age of the students being taught, and the background and experience of the educator. Please use what is helpful for you.
If you have additional questions or concerns, our Crisis Response team stand ready to assist.