From the Trenches: Talking Politics, plus Empathy-Building Resources

From the CS Monitor, here’s an article about teachers addressing politics in the classroom. Entitled, Teachers’ new Catch-22: Students want to talk politics, but their parents don’t, it offers anecdotes from teachers about what they’re encountering right now, and profiles two resources for building empathy in students.

First, some observations about the new reality

[Today’s] political tensions have created a fundamental dilemma for teachers: how to make class work relevant while acceding to school efforts to prevent or minimize political blow-ups between students, parents, and administrators with opposing views.

Also,

[Many] schools are not navigating the new climate decisively. Enright believes part of the problem is that while the public conversation has paid greater lip-service to the importance of teaching empathy and diversity in schools, many educators feel they have neither the time nor flexibility to make that a priority.

And, the resources:

The Harvard Graduate School of Education presents One and All, which offers “strategies to protect students, reject bullying, and build communities where everyone thrives.”

From Newsela, A Mile in Our Shoes is “a K-12 program that promotes empathy and inclusivity through reading.”

(Image courtesy of Harvard GSE One and All website)

The Day After

Wednesday, 11/9, was most definitely a school day. Below is an initial roundup of pieces talking about how educators and their students began to face the future together.

Dan Stone, a social studies teacher in Oakland, CA, wrote his students a letter. Then, they wrote back. He tells the story, including excerpts from these letters, in The Washington Post.

“I want you to know that your teachers love and care about each and every one of you and that the fact that we cannot protect you from these things and this election makes me feel devastated and weak.”

Jezebel posted a great survey of teachers’ stories about addressing election results, from kindergarten through grad programs.

“When my students came into the classroom, some said they didn’t want to talk about the election; some said they just wanted to hang out and talk; some asked if the class could play exquisite corpse, a surrealist writing game (which felt somehow appropriate at such a surreal moment in time); others looked like they wanted to crawl under the table. I suggested that we tell stories about fierce women in our lives as a way of honoring the historic nature of the campaign and Hillary Clinton’s place in it.”

And The Los Angeles Times has a quick piece about local students and teachers coping, with an emphasis on Latinx and trans students.

“He could have taken the conciliatory road that many Trump opponents were traveling Wednesday morning. But he said he wanted his students to voice their feelings and understand they had a role to play in the nation’s democracy.”

The article can be viewed in Spanish here.

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