Helping Students Cope with Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy 2012. NOAA image.
Superstorm Sandy, the clash of the first Nor’easter of the winter season and Hurricane Sandy, a final tropical storm of the hurricane season, wrecked havoc along the east coast, especially the northeastern states. As adults in communities, governments, and civic and military service work together to rebuild what was decimated in a matter of hours, we must take time to reflect on how our children, our students are coping with this life changing natural disaster.

The Importance of Teachable Moments

As educators, we have looked to teachable moments throughout our time in the classroom to effectively communicate our content in real time and help students make connections to their own lives. Examples include, the attacks on the World Trade Center, the declassification of Pluto as a planet, the Gulf oil spill, the election of the first African American president of the United States, the spread of the Influenza A virus H1N1, and the 2012 presidential election.

Waves from Hurricane Sandy batter the Brooklyn coast. NASA photo.
Coverage of these events runs the gamut of emotions for both teachers and students, from fear, anger, surprise, happiness, concern and many more. As educators we are charged to—without bias—explain the facts, provide evidence and allow students to formulate their own thoughts, but probably the most important aspect of teachable moments is our ability to help students deal with and provide appropriate outlets for their emotions.

Superstorm Sandy provides teachers the unique opportunity to calm students’ overwhelming fears, concerns, and sadness related to the events that have so greatly impacted the East Coast’s landscape, communities and wildlife.

Teaching students about weather patterns and how changes in our climate system are impacting these natural events will lead to better understanding of our Earth system; and with understanding emotions can be soothed.

Solutions to mitigate impacts

Climate change is and will continue to impact our nation and the world in which we live, therefore, it is important to arm students with actions they can take to feel empowered.

What Can I Do?

  • Protect wetlands: they are coastal communities’ first line of defense against extreme weather events.
  • Don’t just recycle: work on reducing and reusing too!
  • Don’t let energy vampires drive up carbon emissions.
  • Drive less, walk and bike more, carpool and commit to drive 10 miles less a week

Educational Resources

Eco-Schools USA is proud to offer educators and their students with a wealth of free resources that include ways to help students cope with catastrophic events, curricular connections, and ways to take real action.