Editor’s note: Choices teacher-adviser Amy Lauren Smith—a sixth to eighth grade health teacher at the Shanghai American School in Shanghai, China and the brilliant mind behind our Teacher’s Guide each month—led her class through a lesson on the recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. For more information on responding to violence and tragedy in the classroom, please see these helpful resources.
I teach middle school health at the Shanghai American School in Shanghai, China. While our school follows an American curriculum, living in China means that we often feel removed from both the local culture as well as what’s happening back in the U.S.
The news on February 14th of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida hit us hard. We all have ties to the States, and many of my students will be moving back there at the end of the school year, when their parents’overseas contracts are up.
When the shooting happened, we were on holiday for Chinese New Year. By the time we got back to school a few days later, my students—adolescent kids living halfway around the world from their homes in the U.S.—were eager to talk about the event. The teachers were too.
Our art teacher created banners for the students to paint messages of hope on, and of course we wanted the health classes to be involved.
For students who weren’t aware of what had happened, I found a great clip from the Wall Street Journal that—in a nonpartisan way—describes what the survivors have been up to since the shooting and how they’ve harnessed the power of social media to further their cause. If you’re teaching kids about advocacy, I can’t recommend this clip or its message enough.