Malibu High School psychologist Juliette Boewe recommends giving students opportunities to openly share feelings and thoughts with each other and adults in a circle format. These restorative circles can include prompts or talking pieces to encourage structure and consistency. Begin with low-risk questions; gradually increase to medium and high-risk questions. Be sure to agree to ground rules for discussion, to allow for emotional expression and to conclude discussions with a focus on positive takeaways.
Sample script to facilitate discussion: “The fires have impacted all of us. It is normal to have many different emotions and reactions. Some of you may feel scared, angry, guilty, shocked or relieved. These emotions may change and may last a while. I want you to know that this school is a safe place and that all teachers are here for you. Today, and over the next couple of weeks, we are going to support each other and take time to talk about what has happened.”
- What has this been like for you?
- How have you been taking care of yourself?
- How have you been taking care of others?
- Where have you seen helpers?
- How can we support each other?
- How did you help your family during or after the disaster?
- How could you help your family if you were in another disaster?
- Did anything good or positive happen because of the disaster?
- Did you learn anything?
- What has this experience made you grateful for?
Special Report: Teaching Through Trauma
This is one of several stories that look at how educators are handling students with trauma. Read more:
- Phoenix Rising: Healing after natural disasters
- A Culture of Compassion: Trauma-sensitive schools focus on student well-being
- Teaching Students with Trauma: Practices that work
- No Such Thing as a Bad Kid: Youth-care expert Charles D. Appelstein
- In Their Own Words: Helping students tell what they’ve lived
- Returning to Children’s Community Charter School in Paradise
- How to Help Students After Disaster
- Trauma Toolkit for Educators
- Defining Trauma
- Symptoms of Trauma
- Guidance from UC San Francisco’s HEARTS