Teaching in Times of Tragedy

Teaching in Times of Tragedy Blog Header

As teachers, we’ve all dealt with days that are particularly tough in the classroom. Unfortunately, we seem to be increasingly faced with teaching in the days and weeks that follow a local or a collective tragedy. For nearly two weeks, Northern California has been ravaged by devastating wildfires — the deadliest in California history. For many at Teaching Channel, the Bay Area is home, and we’ve been thinking a lot about how we can help our friends and neighbors. From making a donation to volunteering your time, if you’re looking for a way to help, you can find a number of great ideas here and here.

Whether local, national, or international in scope, times of crisis can have a significant impact on our students and our classrooms. While the impact is more obvious when students are in direct proximity to the event or personally involved, large-scale national crises, often accompanied by heavy media coverage, can be equally difficult to navigate. The resulting stress and anxiety students — and teachers — bring into the classroom in response to a crisis can affect teaching and learning.

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Hurricanes Irma & Harvey: How To Help

Dear Teaching Channel Community,

All our thoughts are turned towards the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey on affected communities and especially to the students, teachers, friends, colleagues, and partners who have been impacted. We thought it might be helpful to provide ways you can help those in need and a way to share and show how our Teaching Channel community is responding to the crisis.

How Hurricanes Irma and Harvey Are Affecting Education

Six of the largest school districts in the U.S. have closed due to the devastating effects of Irma and Harvey. This means that 1.65 million students — 3% of all public school students — are experiencing a significant interruption in their education with only sparse data to predict the long-term impact these storms and their aftermath may have on teaching and learning.

Governor Rick Scott of Florida warned that Irma had the potential to be catastrophic and life-threatening. In the wake of the storm, many schools remain closed and a return to a normal school routine is delayed as districts await safety inspections. Schools throughout the state served as temporary shelters, many with school administrators leading the effort to comfort their communities.

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas called Harvey one of the largest disasters America has ever faced. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators are especially hard hit as they deal with critical back-to-school delays, damage to buildings and other important facilities, and interruptions in basic services.

We’d like to hear from any of you in the affected areas about what’s happening on the ground and how you’re coping. Tragedies of this sort can be used to share and teach important lessons on how we draw together as a society to help one another. We are stronger when we reach out to one another. We are at our very best when we do. Please free to share stories and images by tweeting them to @TeachingChannel. We’ll make sure to retweet to the community.

How You Can Help

If you feel you can, please know that various organizations are asking for donations to support the victims of these large-scale weather events.

Here are education-specific organizations you may want to consider: Feeding Texas and Feeding Florida, networks of the state foodbanks, and more specifically the Houston Food Bank’s Backpack Buddy and Teachers Aid; Feeding Florida’s Backpack Program or Food4Kids; the American Federation of Teachers or the National Education Association, which are accepting donations and providing disaster relief to members; and Donor’s Choose, which has set up Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma Recovery Funds.

For additional options, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends checking with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster for a list of trusted disaster-relief organizations in Florida and Texas.

From all of us at Teaching Channel, we wish a safe and speedy recovery to all those affected by Irma and Harvey.

Sincerely,

George Lichter, CEO

Teaching Channel

Solidarity In A Time of Sadness

After the horrific events in Orlando, there are few words that come to mind that can alleviate our collective suffering and grief. We can only express our support, solidarity, and love for all those affected by Sunday’s events.

Though we don’t have words to adequately express our shock and grief, we can still take action: through collaborative efforts like the #PulseOrlandoSyllabus, through our educational efforts generally, and by giving our young people — this school year and next — the opportunity to voice their own thoughts, concerns, and reactions in the aftermath of such a tragedy. Teaching Channel has partnered with other organizations in an effort called Letters To the Next President, which provides a space where young people can exercise their right to speak out about the issues that matter to them, such as gun violence, immigration, and intolerance.

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