North Korea, Disasters and DACA? Are Your Students Nervous?
This semester has provided instructors with a new set of challenges. Whether you are discussing current events in class, discussing politics or even the weather the news is stressful. Students may be experiencing world events first hand, for the first time. They fear war with North Korea, worry about their homes or families in disaster areas, and even contemplate deportation. Each of those topics comes with its own set of issues. As instructors, our challenge is to help students process information, make informed decisions and reduce stress.
One easy technique help students process information is to discuss their news consumption. Encourage students to limit their news consumption to twice a day. Breaking news now happens daily and often has minimal impact on the overall story. Students who are concerned can become stressed because of the volume of information. Speak with students about reading the news versus watching the news. Often images, multiple sources of information on the screen, argumentative commentary or repetitive stories add to their stress level.
As instructors, we can promote preparedness. We all feel better when we do something and whether students are in disaster areas or are concerned, they can be prepared. An easy and fun way to discuss preparation is to use the materials provided by the Center for Disease Control’s Zombie Preparedness. These resources are timely, and fun, for October and include a graphic novel, posters and educators kit.
Changes to the DACA program pose a unique set of issues for educators. As we cover the topic in our current events segments, we should strive to keep out beliefs out of the classroom and to keep discussions civil. Meeting the needs of students who are fearful of being deported will be a challenge. Our role, as instructor, puts us in a difficult position. Most of us are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice. What we can do is provide a calm environment, refer students to our student services and provide information. The National Geographic Educators Blog provides an overview of changes, and a set of links, that students can use to both understand and navigate the system.
It is an uneasy time for students, as college freshmen many find themselves on their own for the first time and are becoming self-aware. The realization that bad things can happen and that they are to a certain extent responsible for themselves, can weigh heavily. This is especially true during their first semester when they may be homesick, adjusting to the college environment and studying. If we are calm, provide resources and encourage personal responsibility, we can make a difference.
What are you doing to help your students?
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