Tidbits for Teachers are regular SHORT inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to teachers in all settings. I hope to give you a shot in the arm and remind you why you chose this career in the first place.
On the heels of a historic event, life goes on. After Pearl Harbor, life went on. After WWII ended, life went on. After 911, life went on. Whether it is a tragedy or a triumph, life goes on…and you have to teach. It has been so for generations. The question is how to go into your classroom, face your students, and bring some perspective about whatever it is that just changed life as we know it. No matter your opinion, no matter your viewpoint, you teach. You try to be neutral, and to present the facts without bias. It is hard to do. It requires separating your own personal view from the reality of historic circumstances. Teachers are called upon to be a voice of reason in a sometimes-very-unreasonable-hard-to-understand world.
The delicacy of this kind of teaching isn’t covered in the standards. It isn’t part of what you learn in “teacher school.” No. This is responsive teaching. Getting a feel for your students’ emotional state, both good and bad. It is responding to them in a way that makes them feel safe. It is easing fears, while helping them to sort through their thoughts. It is protecting them from each other. There are bound to be multiple responses to the historic election results. Some will be overjoyed. Others will be devastated. Each of those responses is valid, because students are valuable and their opinions matter. Navigating the classroom discussion is tricky. Some will do it well, others will avoid it altogether.
The key is to see the event through the eyes of a child. What would you feel if you were him/her? What would be your concerns? What would you be excited about? If you were of Hispanic descent, you would react differently than a military kid. In this situation, consider what the kids are hearing at home. They are likely getting one side or the other. They have been seeing adults agitated and extremely verbal for months. This behavior has undoubtedly caused them to have opinions and questions. It has made them think. There are very few safe places for them to discuss their thoughts. Your classroom should be one of them…a place to feel their words are worth something, a place to know they have a voice and that they will not be ridiculed if they use it, a place to know they are loved…no matter what their views.
Teaching on these kinds of days is difficult. It has always been, and will always be. Yet, it is one of the reasons you do this job; to ensure that future generations know what freedom of speech looks like. You represent sanity and reason. You have wisdom. God bless you as you do this marvelously hard job of teaching children how to love to one another in positive ways. How to get along, without putting one another down for believing in one way or another, and how to move forward despite their differences. I have always thought that classrooms are microcosms of society, and on the day after a historic election, they could be a volatile places if it wasn’t for you, the teacher, bringing the peace.