Teachers, psychologist anticipate classroom discussions

10:45 PM, Dec 16, 2012   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Teachers across the country prepare to return to the classroom with heavy hearts.

"I'm heartbroken for the families," said Katy Fiedler, a 2nd grade teacher at Countryside Elementary in Edina. "I was in a state of disbelief when I heard the news."

KARE 11 connected with several teachers Sunday to hear their reaction to what happened in Connecticut and to discuss how they'll handle conversations in their classrooms on Monday.

"When I heard about it I felt it was my job to let the kids know," said Eric Sonnek, a 5th grade teacher at Maternity of Mary St. Andrew's Catholic School in St. Paul. "I didn't want them to be in shock once they left school."

"There's no explanation at all to what happened," says Jess Carlson, a sixth grade teacher Northdale Middle School in Coon Rapids. "It's a hard question to deal with, but I'm hoping we have a group discussion about it."

Dr. Cathy Scharlau is a child psychologist and says the teacher's role in the days to come is important because it's likely students will come in with varying degrees of knowledge and questions.

"Teachers should take control of the conversations," she says. "If there are kids who are more anxious, perhaps direct them to another support person in the school so that you can manage the general culture of the classroom."

In the wake of the tragedy in Connecticut, Dr. Scharlau also reminds to teachers to be on the lookout for students who need extra attention.

"If you have somebody in the back of your mind that you've been worried about, this is a nice time to reach out to them." she says. "Research shows that one significant, caring adult figure can make a difference in a child's life."

"I plan on giving out plenty of hugs and smiles tomorrow," says Fieder.  "I'm praying for wisdom to help lead and direct a conversation that ends with hope."

Dr. Scharlau joined KARE 11 news on Friday regarding how to talk with children about the school in Connecticut.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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