On The New York Times’ Motherlode blog, New York City middle school teacher Launa Schweizer reports that her students were “emotionally all over the map” and unprepared for their usual classroom lessons on their return to school after Hurricane Sandy had forced area schools to close for several days.
While one student rushed to tell her how scared he was during the whole ordeal, another waited until the end of the day to tell the class, between fits of giggles, about her family’s losses due to the hurricane. Many also arrived without their homework completed and distractedly got up several times throughout the day to wander around the classroom.
Based on her experience, Schweizer advises teachers in storm-affected areas to show their students “compassion, patience, and enormous amounts of understanding” before getting back into the usual classroom routine. She writes:
Unless the teachers are allowed and encouraged to take the time to listen to our students, we may have no way of knowing who spent a week cooped on a high floor of an apartment building with no heat or hot water. We can't know whose stoop was lapped by waves Sunday night, and inundated Monday morning, or whose apartment was looted. It will take time for us to unravel what they're saying through their giggles, silences, awkward remarks and misbehavior.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.