Robert Austin, USBE Humanities Team Coordinator has compiled resources to help your students understand the events in DC and what will come with the transition of power.
The civic mission of public education, and the imperative for developing civic skills provide a strong case for responding to the events in Washington with thoughtful and appropriate classroom instruction.
First, it is important to remind students that the rule of law and the institutions of this Republic endure in the face of this assault. This short speech from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says as much.
It is also important to pay attention to the social and emotional needs of students.
- Please remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Right after the physiological needs (food, water, rest) are the needs of security and safety. Our students’ sense of security and safety are already stressed due to the pandemic. It is critical that we remember to focus on these needs in age-appropriate ways. For some, this may mean putting aside some of the day’s instructional plans to provide a space to discuss and process this very teachable moment. For others, particularly for younger students, we can best address their needs for security and safety by giving them the familiarity of routine, responding to naturally occurring questions with reassurance that the institutions enshrined in the U.S. Constitution remain in place.
- We’ve seen time and again, through crises both national and local, that students take cues from us. Our behaviors and reactions can be the mirror our students use to see themselves. Be calm, be steady, and reassure our students that they can talk through any and all problems to feel safe and healthy.
- Classrooms are where we model civil discourse and the process of democracy. You are no doubt aware that our students bring to our schools a variety of beliefs. As you engage with students in conversation, being respectful of opinions but steering back to facts is key.
Here are some additional resources and ideas that may be of use.
You may want to use these talking points for general discussion or facilitation of feelings or worries. If you feel it inappropriate to engage in conversations about what happened due to the age of your students, please feel free to carry on in your classroom as you see fit. If you need more direction for speaking with your students, please use the following talking points to guide your conversation:
For younger learners, language such as:
- The rules of our country were not followed...this is not the way a peaceful transfer of power is supposed to happen in our country after an election of a president.
- When we have problems at school or at home, we are supposed to talk through these problems instead of using violence. Fighting and arguing does not make the problems go away, it just makes problems bigger.
- Sometimes we disagree with each other. It’s okay to have our own thoughts and ideas. We do not have to all believe the same things. What we all need to do is be respectful of each other and sometimes agree to disagree.
- We all live in America and even when we do not agree with each other, we are Americans and it’s important to stick together, help each other when we can, be good neighbors, and respect our rules and laws that help all people in our country.
- How can we have civil conversations about topics when we don’t agree?
- Protesting peacefully is every American’s right, but the actions that took place were not peaceful and escalated beyond protesting to illegal activity.
- No matter what your political opinions are, we all are Americans and have many common values and beliefs.
General Post-Election Resources for Classrooms