What do you do with students in crisis?

If you haven’t heard about the flooding in Thailand, here’s a link you should check out.

I’ve got a student from Thailand whose family was affected by the flooding.  They lost everything.  Tonight, after class, she asked me, “How can my family lose everything in one day?”  Because of her visa, she can’t go back home, not that she has a home to go back to.  My heart breaks for her.  I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be separated from your family at a time like this.  And to have to focus on classes when your mind is clearly thousands of miles away.

She told me how frustrated she was that she can’t do anything.  I find myself feeling pretty frustrated too.  I wish I could do something for her, but I can’t.  I have to keep teaching because there aren’t any floods here, because the other students aren’t dealing with the loss of their homes and concern for their families.

So, I guess I’m wondering what to do with a student who, quite understandably, isn’t exactly going to be on top of her game in class.  How do I, as a concerned human being, show my support while still, as a teacher, maintaining my academic expectations for her?  Has anyone written a book on what to do when someone’s world falls apart?  Will anyone share that book with me, please?

4 thoughts on “What do you do with students in crisis?

  1. I can’t believe I waiting so long before sending a reply to your important note.
    I have several suggestions, but mostly I want to put you in touch with experts. First, please
    check this information about my friend and colleague, Mary (Masha) Giles, and tell me
    if you want me to give you her contact information via e-mail.
    Second, I know someone who is on the ground in Thailand and perhaps
    they can help your student by providing information about her family’s
    well-being or the general situation there.
    Jidapa Promruang – Communicative Language Teaching
    Jidapa Promruang has a BA in Education and is completing her MA thesis in TESOL at Srinkarinwirot University. She taught in government and bilingual schools for five years, and then worked as a co trainer to Dave Hopkins at TEFL International for six years. Most recently she has been a culture & language coordinator for Peace Corps, and a Senior Teacher of Thai and English for Burmese refugees at UNHCR in Bangkok.
    Again, I can put you in touch with this person immediately if you want to contact her.
    I believe it is important to put your student in touch with support services on campus and in the surrounding community.
    I am sure you are already doing a lot.
    I wonder if some of her assignments could be handled with alternatives that allow her to investigate resources to help herself and her family.
    -Robb Scott

  2. Thanks so much for the comment and all the helpful information. I know my student has been able to contact her family, so she knows that they are safe (but homeless). I will check with her and our administrators here to see if there’s anything she needs, and I’ll let you know.

    • Sorry I’m just now replying. Things are going well. She’s been in touch with her family, and it appears they now have a place to stay. She’s still struggling, but she can communicate with her family, and that’s been making a difference. Thanks for checking up.

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