Supporting Students Amidst Global Conflicts: A Guide for Educators

Tips on how to provide a safe space for students to express, understand, and cope with their emotions.

The recent events in the Middle East are deeply affecting communities around the world. As educators, we have a unique opportunity to offer support, understanding, and guidance to our students, helping them navigate the complexities of their feelings in these trying times.

Below we offer some tips on how to provide a safe space for students to express, understand, and cope with their emotions.

Here are some things to do:

1. Listen Actively: One of the most important things we can do is to listen without judgment. By actively listening, you offer students a safe space to express their feelings and concerns.

2. Empathize: Validate their feelings. Let them know that it's okay to feel scared, confused, angry, or any other emotion they might be experiencing.

3. Introduce Grounding Exercises: Use tools such as the breathing exercise or the 5 senses to help students cope with anxiety. 

4. Limit Media Consumption: Encourage students to take breaks from consuming distressing news. Continuous exposure can exacerbate anxiety and stress.

5. Encourage Expression: Writing, drawing, or even talking about their feelings can be therapeutic. Suggest they keep a journal or take part in artistic activities.

6. Invite Group Support: Encourage students to engage with peers or local organizations to remind themselves they're not alone in their fears and concerns.

7. Plan for Self-Care: Encourage students to engage in activities they love, spend time with loved ones, and ensure they are taking care of their physical health as well.

8. Connect with Local Professionals: Invite students to reach out to a teacher, counselor or family member to talk or just get a hug.

9. Engage in Positive Actions: Encourage students to put out into the world more of what they want to see.  They can complete acts of kindness to friends or family members.  Doing this can give students a sense of purpose and control.

10. Be Culturally Sensitive: Be aware that some students may have personal or family ties to the affected regions. Approach these students with extra sensitivity, and consider their unique perspectives and concerns.

Here are some things to avoid doing:

1. Impose Personal Beliefs: Refrain from imposing your own beliefs, political or otherwise, on students.

2. Minimize Feelings: Never tell a student their feelings are invalid or overblown. It's essential to respect and validate their experiences and emotions.

3. Offer Therapeutic Advice: Avoid providing psychological or medical advice. Understand the boundaries between coaching and therapy.

4. Assume: Never assume you know exactly what a student is feeling or experiencing. Every individual's experience is unique, and it's crucial to approach each student with an open mind.

5. Offer False Reassurances: Telling a student everything will be okay without basis can feel dismissive. It's better to listen and support rather than provide false comfort.

6. Offer Solutions Immediately: Don’t jump to solutions. Ensure you thoroughly understand the student’s feelings. They need validation and understanding before action.

7. Focus on what you can’t do: We want to refrain from saying we can’t do things such as, “we can’t talk about our opinions.” Instead, focus on what you CAN do. Let’s talk about how you are feeling now. I want to support you.

We’re in this together

Global events can have a profound impact on us and our students. 

As coaches and educators, we can help students navigate these times with empathy, understanding, and a few strategies. 

Remember, you're not alone in this. We are a community, and together, we can make a difference in the lives of our students.

Want more support? Let's chat 💛