More than a dozen members from around the country gathered last month in Washington, D.C. ahead of the AFT TEACH (Together Educating America’s Children) conference for a train-the-trainer seminar. They used a multimedia curriculum developed specifically for school personnel and launched earlier this year by the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, which includes our union.
to learn more about the coalition’s efforts.
A joint survey AFT/New York Life conducted in 2012 revealed overwhelming interest in helping support grieving students — along with strong demand for training — and served as an impetus for the seminar. Educators across the country said they did not feel appropriately prepared to provide support for grieving students.
By exploring strategies and tools during the pre-TEACH seminar, members geared up to train at least 25 employees in their schools or districts on how to interact with individual children and how to promote the creation of grief-sensitive schools.
for video and grief support modules for educators and school personnel.
At the training, union members prepared for working with their schools to spread the word about understanding grief or loss — from a parent’s death to incarceration or military deployment — and providing support over time.
Loss and bereavement are natural aspects of life and should not be “pathologized,” or treated like a disease, says Tom Demaria, who helps run the coalition. Training can help school employees recognize any symptoms of trauma or depression, and it also can help provide the skills needed to avoid pulling students out of class at a time when the structure and regularity of school can be comforting.
In addition to our union, the coalition also includes the National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), as well as groups representing counselors and psychologists.
for press coverage of the coalition’s launch.
Union members interested in organizing in-person training in their school can submit requests to AFT by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org