Resources for Educators, Families to Discuss the Events in Israel and Gaza with Students
The terror attack perpetrated by Hamas against Israel and resulting declaration of war by Israel against Hamas in the Gaza Strip has led to numerous casualties and injuries on both sides. There is an ongoing hostage crisis of Israeli citizens being held in Gaza and millions of innocent civilians in harm's way. Similar to the crisis in Ukraine, the effects are far-reaching, with images of the war being broadcast on TV and shared on social media. Emotional and economic impacts can be felt at home by all, especially our young people and those with connections to the region.
California is home to students and staff with cultural ties to Israel and Palestine and has seen a rise in antisemitic incidents before the war. Nationally, there has also been an increase in Islamophobic incidents in schools. As with all difficult topics, educators should be keenly aware of the emotional impact these events have on students. Teachers should pay close attention to students who are Jewish or Muslim, or who are Israeli or Palestinian, who many have family members or friends in the region, and students who may be worried about how this crisis could impact them here in the United States. Students and teachers may know people who have been killed, are missing, or have been taken hostage.
It's likely our county’s students have been following these events or have overheard conversations and are curious about the cause and impacts this war may have both globally and locally. To help students better understand this event and to place it in a broader context, we've gathered history-social science, mental health, and social and emotional learning resources to support teachers and families in assisting students.
SKIP TO SECTION
Teaching Resources for Educators
Students want and need to talk about what they see, remember, and feel. To be able to navigate their own emotions and trauma in a healthy, safe, and productive way, students need guidance and a sense of safety from adults in their schools. Classrooms are powerful places to help children process current events, provided educators give renewed energy to creating safe spaces for students.
As with all difficult topics, educators should be keenly aware of the emotional impact these events have on students. Teachers should pay close attention to students who are Jewish or Muslim, those who may have family members in the region, and students who may be worried about how this crisis could impact them here in the United States. It’s important to be sensitive, not to single these students out to speak about or explain related topics. Before beginning a discussion, teachers are encouraged to consult resources for creating an environment that supports civil discourse:
- Facing History and Ourselves – Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter
- Judy Pace – Teaching Controversial Issues: A Framework for Reflective Practice
- Street Law – Classroom Deliberations
- Constitutional Rights Foundation – Conducting a Civil Conversation in the Classroom
- SDCOE resource guide – Facilitating Dialogue with Compassion
- The impact of geopolitical issues in the United States and the extent of its obligation to respond.
- The role and authority of the president (as well as other institutions such as Congress, the media, etc.) in shaping foreign policy.
- The president’s policy options for responding to this type of crisis.
- The lasting impacts of significant historical conflict in the Middle East.
- The human costs of war and conflict.
Links to Learn From
- The U.S. Department of Education has a fact sheet with links to tools to tackle antisemitism, Islamophobia, and related forms of discrimination and bias
- AllSides shares how media sources from different political perspectives report the news
- C-Span Classroom article: Conflict in the Middle East Following a Surprise Attack by Hamas Fighters on Israel
- Institute for Curriculum Services has a series of short, animated videos on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and peace process
- Council on Foreign Relations article: What Is U.S. Policy on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?
- PBS Kids offers historical coverage of Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- Institute for Curriculum Services has a primary source-based curriculum: Teaching the Arab-Israeli Conflict and a toolkit with lesson plan materials in Support for Classroom Discussion on the Hamas-Israel War
- PBS Learning Media lesson plan for grades 9-12 on Making a Difference in the Midst of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
- Facing History and Ourselves mini lesson for grades 6-12 on Processing Attacks in Israel and the Outbreak of War in the Region
Social and Emotional Learning Resources
Our students need the guidance and safety of adults in their home and in their schools to be able to navigate their own emotions and trauma in a healthy, safe, and productive way.
Tips for Talking to Kids (All Ages)
- Supporting Youth Affected by the Violence in Israel and Gaza: Tips for Families and Educators was created by the National Association of School Psychologists.
- How to Talk to Kids About Violence, Crime, and War: Common Sense Media gathers tips and conversation starters to help you talk to kids of different ages about the toughest topics.
- Talking to Your Kids About War: VeryWell Family explores ways families can speak with young people about war, including tips on sharing information and restricting media coverage.
- How to Talk to Your Children About Conflict and War: UNICEF’s guide offers eight tips to support and comfort your children.
- Handle with Care: Supporting Young People During Crises: Learning for Justice offers recommendations and resources to help guide conversations with young people and to manage potential subsequent actions and reactions.
- How to Talk to Kids About Violence in the News: Common Sense Media offers language for talking to and listening to children when they see or hear about violence in the world.
- 10 Ways to Have Conscientious Conversations on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Anti-Defamation League shares ways adults can manage the strong emotions and differences of opinion the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can activate for many people.
- How to Talk With Kids About the War in Gaza and Israel: The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, shares ways that adults can prepare themselves to have difficult conversations with children about humanitarian crises.
- How To Talk to Kids About the Israel-Hamas War contains tips for families from The Skimm.
For Elementary School Students
Resilience in a time of war: Tips for parents and teachers of elementary school children: This article from the American Psychological Association can help adults guide their young children beyond fear and to resilience.
For Middle School Students
Resilience in a time of war: Tips for parents and teachers of middle school children: The American Psychological Association provides tips and strategies for parents and teachers of middle school-aged children.
For Military Families
The San Diego County Office of Education creates and curates resources to support military families and students, and schools that serve military children.
School Culture Resources
These resources are neither meant to be exhaustive nor is their inclusion an endorsement of a particular political viewpoint.
Trauma-Informed Resources for School Systems
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides resources that can be filtered by topic, keyword, and audience with a focus on how adults can identify traumatic responses in young people and how to support them.
Addressing Antisemitism in Public Schools
This SDCOE guide for educators to address antisemitism contains resources from educational organizations, many of which are promoted and used by state departments of education and teachers across the country.
Countering Islamophobia in Public Schools
SDCOE’s resource guide on supporting Muslim students includes a section about countering Islamophobia in schools. Teach 9/11 with Compassion guide also contains resources that, while not specific to the war, may be helpful.
More to explore
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