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Conversations for Peace, Post Election

Introduction

With the election now over it is important for schools to be a safe place for all staff and students. Building an inclusive and respectful school environment starts with leadership and staff modeling meaningful ways to process the final election results. Students and staff need to understand that different points of view, various perspectives, and freedom of speech are both valuable and acceptable and that there are a set of norms that the school community upholds. 

Understanding that our schools and communities are made up of diverse backgrounds that have a lot in common is a good place to start. Taking this opportunity to provide instruction on how to communicate can be healing for all. We know that creating a positive school climate is challenging and this is the perfect opportunity to emphasize respectful exchange for all. You can ensure that all stakeholders feel valued by establishing expectations upfront.

We have found a number of resources to help you navigate and provide insight for your community. Many provide tips, lessons, and resources for crucial conversations and processes to support open and respectful discourse.

Articles

Looking back to the 2016 election, The Day After, provided insights for staff as they prepared for the results of the election. Today, we find the tips and recommendations are still relevant. Recommendations include:

  • Preparing staff for difficult conversations in respectful ways
  • Getting back to instruction as soon as possible
  • Creating space for students to reflect (i.e. journaling)
  • Holding a class meeting on what respect means
  • Resources and guides for staff

Decide how to move your classroom in a positive direction, leaving the election season behind.” 

Teaching the 2020 Election: What Will You do on Wednesday?, is a current article that provides current insight for districts following this year’s election. Many adults have been and will be on the edge of their seat following the election. Tensions are also high across the nation. Recognizing that students are not immune to the consequences of not only the election but the pandemic is critical. These uncertain times have had a tremendous impact on their lives. Providing a place to discuss, inform and encourage can help students learn how to process events appropriately.

Recommendations include:

  • Re-establish the values of inclusivity in your school community
  • Asking adults to reflect first so they are prepared
  • Reaffirm responsibility to engage respectfully in these issues
  • Have plans in place if things go wrong or students need support

“If educators value relationships, culturally sustaining practices, and creating an inclusive learning environment, the moment calls for courage and conversation.”

November 4 is the beginning of a new era regardless of the next president. As educators, it is our job to support our students and build cultures of inclusivity. We can help our community and be prepared for the future with the recommendations of these great resources.

Learning Explorer also has a number of post-election resources to support instruction. Even though the election is over there is still a lot to teach regarding the electoral process.

Recommendations:

Standing up for Democracy, 6-12th

The mission of the Standing Up for Democracy unit is to bring about “a more humane, just, and compassionate society rooted in democratic values.” These 16 lessons, built on a foundation of mutual respect, tolerance, and participation, are appropriate for any classroom worldwide and are divided into four themes: The Individual and Society, We and They, Understanding Human Rights, and Choosing to Participate. (Read More)

Before and Beyond the Constitution: What Should a President Do?, 6-8

A three-lesson unit provides middle schoolers with the founding fathers’ vision of what they saw as the role of the president and the executive branch of the government. Young scholars examine the Articles of Confederation, Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Papers, and the precedents George Washington established for which powers a president should have. The lessons point out the Articles of Confederation’s weakness that lead to the drafting of the Constitution of the United States. (Read More)

Learning Explorer Teacher Ambassador,
Jen Gibson is the Co-Founder of BUOY and provides strategic education planning for K-12 districts.

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