What you can do in an emergency:

  • Stay calm. Try not to leave the student alone. Find someone to stay with him or her while calls are made to helping resources.
  • If a student directly threatens himself or herself or someone else, or otherwise behaves bizarrely, immediate attention is needed. Call 911.

Helping the distressed student not needing emergency assistance:

You have a variety of choices for dealing with behavior which indicate to you that a student may be troubled, but not in crisis. You may choose to handle it in a “strictly business” way (i.e., in terms only with respect to the classroom) or you may choose to handle it more personally, talking with the students about your concern. Or you may be tempted to ignore the situation. Contacting the Vandal Care Network for consultation may be helpful in deciding which course of action you would like to take and assuring we respond in a caring manner rather ignoring a potentially distressed student.

If you decide to approach the student or the student approaches you directly – and you decide to handle the problem personally, the following suggestions might be helpful:

  • Listen carefully to the student’s concern and try to see the issue from his or her point of view without necessarily agreeing or disagreeing. Give the student your undivided attention by discussing the matter privately. Just a few minutes of effective listening by someone can make a large difference in a student’s perception of a problem.
  • Express your concern in behavioral, non-judgmental terms. For example, “I’ve noticed you’ve had some absences lately, and I’m concerned about how you’re doing.”
  • Help the student clarify the situation and explore advantages and disadvantages of various courses of action for handling what the student perceives the problem to be.