Since the election results were announced, I haven’t mentioned them in any public forum. I was too overwhelmed, and I didn’t want to muddy the waters here; I wanted to stay focused on teaching.
But everywhere I look, the waters are plenty muddy. Over the past five days, the pain I’m hearing in the voices of friends, family members, and total strangers online, the acts of hate and violence I’m seeing on the news, they’re not letting up. And not using this platform to share my thoughts would be cowardly. It would be lazy. It would also be a wasted opportunity: Most of my readers are educators, people who will shape the next generation. So if I can influence those teachers in any way, I have a responsibility to give it my best shot.
I’d like to propose a few ideas for things educators can do to move us forward in a way that’s healing and productive.
Let me be clear: I’m not talking about moving ON, dismissing what has happened, or “getting over it.” I have seen too much heartbreak, confusion and fear this week—on both sides—to suggest we move on. I’m talking about forward motion, the work we have ahead of us.
What Teachers Can Do Now
Although this list is directed at teachers, I believe it’s also relevant for parents and anyone else who works with children, teens, or college students. In some places, I have provided links to good resources that can help. If you have other suggestions, please let me know in the comments.
1. Keep building relationships with and between your students.
If this election has taught us anything, it’s that a whole lot of us don’t trust each other. This division pushes us more deeply into our own corners, which only exacerbates the problem. The more we can do to make our classrooms places where real people know and trust one another, where we learn each other’s stories and uncover the things we have in common, the better we’ll get at embracing our differences.
So look for opportunities to build these relationships: On days when you can opt to show a video or play a game, go with the game. If a student seems troubled, but you’re busy, try to find five minutes to talk to him anyway. When you have extra time at the end of a class period, chat with students instead of catching up on email. All those little moments will add up.
Here are a few other resources from this site that can help:
A 4-Part System for Getting to Know Your Students
How Dialogue Journals Build Teacher-Student Relationships
2. Practice and teach respectful disagreement.
We have to learn new ways of talking with people who disagree with us. The skills are nothing new, but so many of us are completely out of practice when it comes to thoughtful discourse. It can be taught. And we need to provide students with plenty of practice in speaking honestly about their opinions without being insulting.
These resources would be a good place to start:
This Teaching Channel video shows how one teacher works with her students on having calm, respectful conversations with clear discussion guidelines and support materials.
The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies
Any of the activities on this list will give students practice in healthy discourse.
3. Strengthen your approach to bullying, racism, and other acts of hate.
Recent acts of violence and hate scare me to death, and those are just the ones that made the news. Obviously, this is a bigger problem than I can handle in a single bullet point, but these two resources struck me as worth sharing, because each one addresses the problem from an angle I don’t often see.
5 Ways to Disrupt Racism
Although the strategies presented in this video are intended for acts of racism, they would be just as effective in any situation where a bystander witnesses an act of aggression or bullying.
How to Develop a School Culture that Helps Curb Bullying
This article approaches the problem of bullying holistically. It explains why zero-tolerance policies are often counterproductive and offers more impactful, long-lasting alternatives.
4. Teach media literacy.
With so many news outlets to choose from, it’s easy for people to pick the one that filters current events through whatever lens they like. Those outlets have done a bang-up job of pitting us against each other, and we need to help the next generation be less susceptible to media manipulation.
While we’re at it, we can also help kids develop a more critical eye when it comes to social media: Let’s help them practice using their words carefully online, to understand how their social media relationships shape their character and self-perception, and to balance the amount of time they spend on social media with other pursuits.
Two resources I recommend:
Common Sense K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum
This curriculum includes topics like information literacy, internet safety, cyberbullying, digital footprints, self-image, and copyright issues. Take a look at their scope and sequence to browse all topics.
This lesson plan from the Canadian organization MediaSmarts has students look deeply at how the news is constructed and examine bias in everything from language use to placement of news stories. Because the plan uses some terms specific to Canadian culture, adapting it by substituting U.S.-based content will make it easier for American students to understand.
5. Weave social justice into your curriculum.
So much post-election fallout has stemmed from the fear many have that the rights of marginalized populations will be stripped away. Many Trump voters insist they would not support that. We can all work toward greater equality for all human beings by incorporating more study of social justice, on our own and with our students. Earlier this year, I put together a list of social justice resources for classroom use. This would be a good place to start looking for materials.
6. Raise awareness of local and state government.
The presidential election is important, yes, but decisions were made Tuesday night that will have a more immediate impact on the lives of our students and their families. Despite that, local and state races get very little attention. Let’s help our future citizens become more active participants in their local and state elections.
As for resources, this is where I need your help. I have found a few things online, but my background is not in history or civics, so I’m not able to weed out the best of the best. As recommendations come in through the comments, I’ll check them out and add a few here.
Two More: What We All Can Do
These last two go outside the classroom. They are things we can do in our personal lives and in our personal time to improve the climate we’re living in, start repairing the damage that’s been done, and make it a lot less likely that we’ll ever have a week like this again.
7. Work to understand people whose perspectives are different from yours.
I mean really work at it.
This is something we rarely do with any kind of genuine intent. In my own experience, when I encounter someone whose views clearly differ from mine, my first reaction is to clam up and get away from them; I’m a conflict avoider. I would rather say nothing, then go home and quietly judge them. Others take the opposite approach, pouncing on anyone with a different opinion. Neither response really teaches us anything new.
But what if we really made an effort to simply understand the other side? To listen carefully, paraphrase what we’re hearing, ask clarifying questions, and sit with their reality for a moment?
To some people, the idea of doing this is out of the question; it would be like agreeing with them, wouldn’t it?
I disagree. I think it would help us all drop our defenses. It would make us a lot less scary to one another. And it would make it possible for us to actually find common ground. In this piece on Medium, Sean Blanda put it this way: “As any debate club veteran knows, if you can’t make your opponent’s point for them, you don’t truly grasp the issue. We can bemoan political gridlock and a divisive media all we want. But we won’t truly progress as individuals until we make an honest effort to understand those that are not like us.”
For me, the “other side” consists of Trump voters, and this week I have started to gain a better understanding of them from listening to Russell Brand’s comments in this video, or reading this post by David Wong. For you, the other side might be liberals. The best post I’ve read this week that explains how liberals are feeling is this one from Jennifer Borget.
But reading isn’t enough. This week, go to the nicest person you know who voted differently from you and ask if they’d be willing to talk for half an hour. Make it your goal to get a complete picture of their thinking. Don’t defend your position. Just listen.
8. Come out of the closet.
Too many of us, myself included, keep our views quiet, letting the angriest, most extreme voices have all the airtime. We do this to keep the peace, but what we get instead is an inaccurate picture. We rob ourselves of the opportunity to learn from each other, to see that people with opposing views are all around us, and they’re not terrible people.
If you’re a conflict-avoider like me, I urge you to start respectfully, calmly expressing your positions to family members and co-workers. Use your “I” statements. Avoid name-calling. If you get hostility back, be loving anyway. But let them know the real you.
Just in case the things I’ve written on this site for the last three years haven’t made it clear enough, I’ll take my turn. Although on a lot of issues I’m somewhere in the “gray area,” these are the things that mean the most to me:
- I am fervently pro-LGBTQ. Not “tolerant.” This one really is a non-negotiable for me.
- I support the Black Lives Matter movement. Initially, I had questions, but when I interviewed José Vilson in 2014 about Ferguson (please forgive the crap audio quality), I learned a lot. I have relatives and friends in law enforcement and of course I believe their lives matter, too. I do not condone or support violence against police and I don’t believe those who truly understand BLM do, either.
- As a descendant of immigrants on all sides (Ireland, Italy, Russia) and the wife of a man who is as well (Puerto Rico and Spain), I have a heart for immigrants and their right to a safe and humane existence.
- I believe a civilized society should be able to offer affordable health care to all of its citizens. When we start getting into the particulars of how that should happen, I curl up into a ball, but what I know for sure is that I want to belong to a country that values this enough to figure it out.
Those are the biggies for me. If these things are off-putting to you and they send you away, I’ll just say that I hope you come back someday. I’ll still be here and I’ll welcome you back with open arms.
Now let’s go forward. ♥
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Thank you! Very well written.
I’m so glad you liked it, Heather. Thanks for taking the time to write!
Bravo! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, wisdom and guidance. Your voice is needed and appreciated!
Tina, thanks so much.
Ma’am, I’m a 32 Year Military Veteran finishing up on my Master of Arts in Education Degree. I have referenced many of your insights and ideas in my research papers. They are extremely insightful, innovative, and most of all focused on the learning experience.
With that said, please know I wholeheartedly and without reservation voted for Donald J. Trump and supported him from the very beginning. So I’ve decided to focus on learning from your educational subject matter expertise and ignoring your political ideological rant as a personal matter you have to deal with. I love your number 8. Come Out of the Closet; rest assured I was never in the closet in my support for a candidate that sought to overturn the elitist political class that seeks to bring law and order back again.
Thanks for sharing extraordinary the pedagogy and andragogy expertise.
Command Sergeant Major (R) Jeffery Hof
Thank you. This is exactly what would should be focusing on. The future looks scary, however, it will be less scary if can learn to count on each other.
Thanks so much, Karen. I think just talking to each other is an important first step.
As always, your post has given me plenty to think about. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and your honesty.
I’m so glad to hear it. Thank you.
Great ideas to promote peaceful, positive awareness & behavior with current events in the classroom.
Thank you, Diana!
Thank you for this!!
You’re welcome, Caroline. I’m glad you found value in it.
Just a quick response for now. I wanted to say thank you for this post. I agree with you, especially that we need to move forward. Thank you for the links!!
Anna, thank you!
Thank you for these inspiring and practical ideas! And, mostly, thank you for encouraging unity and good will. Great post!
Thanks so much, Alicia.
Thank you for your honesty. You have articulated your thoughts in exactly the way you are advocating articulating your thoughts. 🙂 I have made it a habit to peruse many news and information sources and solutions usually run somewhere in the center of all the rhetoric.
That’s definitely one of my new goals, to venture out of my regular news sources. I’m starting to see the liberal bias more clearly now that I’m trying to see it. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever be a fan of Fox News, but I’m definitely pausing now before I react to every news story I see. Have been keeping an eye on the National Review over the last few days (based on Lona’s recommendation below) and although the conservative slant is obvious, the writing is smart and not hysterical. I’m definitely interested in finding more conservative sources that will make me think.
I’m with you on this Jennifer! Such a smart idea to use this time for some media literacy/analysis of how news is constructed. I’ve been reading Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard since the election. Trying to move out of my own echo chamber…
Like you I have also been hesitant to be very vocal with my views because in part there are people I my life who I both love and respect who have views very different than mine. I also do not like confrontation. However, I also realize I can no longer be silent. All people have a right to be safe, have health care, make a livable wage , and be welcomed to out country when fleeing danger. Thank you! Rita
Thanks, Rita. What’s working for me in having these conversations is to keep the pace slow and to always try to validate the other person’s point of view before I share mine. I’m finding this makes it a lot more likely to get the same treatment in return.
Yes to all of this.
I too realized that I might be too quiet on subjects that actually matter a great deal to me. This week forced me to reckon with the idea that I can’t keep quiet any longer.
Thanks for writing so eloquently about a tough subject.
Thanks, Lauralee. I’m hoping we can all start to speak up more in a way that’s productive and not destructive. I’m cautiously optimistic about what the next year could hold for a lot of previously well-mannered, quiet folks.
Thank you for choosing to post about the election. I think what you wrote is balanced and important- steps for us all to take. I am working on getting to #7. I’m not there yet, but soon I hope to be. But no matter what, I will always ALWAYS be there for my students.
#7 is definitely a long-term, challenging project, Jennifer. I’ve been having some really good, private conversations this week with people who see some things very differently from me. I’m learning a lot, and I wish the same for everyone here.
Thank-you for this, for all of it, Jennifer. As an ELL teacher, my students often share with me first the bigotry and racist bullying they endure at school. The last week saw a horrendous uptick in nasty behavior towards them. I am heartsick and have avoided discussing the election fall out during class time, but you have given me some ideas for doing it in a fair and productive way. <3
Hi Vanessa. I’m so glad to know you found some helpful ideas here. If and when you have the time, I would love to have you share what new things you tried this week, and how they worked.
What a beautiful, wonderful post. Thank you.
Hey Amy! Thank you so much.
I like your style Jennifer. You spoke pragmatically but proactively about what we need to do in the classroom to support students, and bravely and without fuss about what you believe in. And yes, we all do need to understand the perspective of those we currently feel alienated from. Good advice.
Thank you, Susan. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know!
I respect you have different standards and view as I do; however, I am disappointed that you have used this as your platform. I will be removed from your emails. FYI… I am pro-Christian, pro-life (not just black), and God fearing.
I appreciate that you are acknowledging your difference of opinion respectfully and you have every right to remove yourself from her email lists. I too am a Christian, and feel that all lives matter. In the spirit of the post and learning about others, I’d like to know more about what it was in the post that made you feel the the author doesn’t share your views. As she said, I think it’s important to understand both sides of an issue.
Virginia, I appreciate this. I knew when I wrote this that I would probably lose a few readers, and I’ve accepted that. My hope is that most people will read this carefully and see that I’m trying to build bridges here.
I’m sorry to see you go. I think I have used this site as a platform a number of times to speak my mind about how teachers treat students, the kinds of practices we should be using in our classroom, even how we pronounce student names. I can be pretty opinionated at times. In this case, I’m advocating that we try to share our beliefs honestly and kindly, and that by engaging with each other in this way, we’ll grow together, not apart.
I hope you’ll be back someday.
Well said. I usually find that if I respectfully ask poignant questions and ask for evidence of people who have opposing views, they often can’t justify their position. I also, go into every discussion hoping to learn one new thing, not with the intent of converting their position. Makes my interactions more pleasant and my integrity intact.
I like that goal, Dee: Learn one new thing. Man, that could save a whole lot of broken conversations.
Right back atcha, K.
Thank you for your good will to encourage healing and unity. I agree, we need to help our children focus on the positive – our blessed form of government, its process, and the value of winning and losing. Yes, we have so many resources to teach the youth to discuss peacefully instead of resorting to criminal rioting and wounding the lives of good innocent citizens. Teaching true tolerance is the foundation of cultural responsiveness and we need to continue planting this good seed and grace it by our words and example. Keep up the good work!
Thank you, Ricardo.
Come out of the closet? I am sick to death of being called horrid names because I have an opinion about something that differs from most in the school where I work. Unfortunately, way too many stop collaborating with…or even talking with…the people they decide are unacceptable, thereby hurting students. This week has only been worse.
This is what used to happen to a white person who tried to treat a person of color with the decency and respect they deserved. Now it happens to anyone who does not agree 100% with the way the liberal thought police have decided is ok.
I can speak my mind or do my job. Too many will make it impossible to do both.
It is tragically sad that we have gotten to this point. Our choices this time around were very unfortunate. Maybe the question to ask is “How did we let that happen to us?”
I can feel your frustration here. It sounds like you have had a really tough time being true to yourself at work. I think a lot of people feel the same way. Some would advise us all to just keep quiet and avoid controversial topics. This is certainly a “safe” response, but I don’t know if it’s the healthiest one long-term.
If you’re willing to share, I’m curious to know which of your opinions have made you feel the most unwelcome in your school, which ideas you felt were unacceptable to the liberal thought police?
I too am having a very hard time with this election and my friends who feel they have “won” are not willing to understand where I am coming from. My feelings are NOT political. If any other Republican candidate had been elected I would have said, “That’s the way it is. I will support them because they are the president” but Donald Trump is a bully. That’s the simplest term I can come up with. And we cannot have a bully as our president. Bullies lust for power. And a bully as the most powerful man in the world is untenable. I agree with much of what you are saying and I believe that we must move forward but from this moment on, I will work as hard as I personally can to encourage his impeachment. It is easily possible that if all the crimes and fraud he is accused of actually come out, this will happen. This man, because he is a racist, sexist, narcissistic, misogynistic bully will never be my president. As a person who was bullied most of his life, this cannot stand.
Friends have told me to suck it up. To live with it. To go on with my life. That things for me will be fine or at least tolerable. I truly believe that is what I would have been told as a citizen of Germany in 1936 when Adolph Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany. And we know how that turned out…or maybe we have forgotten.
I fully understand if you feel the need to take this comment down.
I appreciate that it is difficult when one views the president as a bully. Some view our current president as one. It also would have been difficult if the president was someone who considers herself above the law and has lied so many times about so many things.
Jim, as long as the discussion here can stay respectful and we do not sink to ad hominem attacks, I’m happy to approve all comments. I have quite a few liberal friends who have no interest in understanding the views of conservatives; they have made up their minds about the motivations of Trump voters and are content to make sweeping generalizations, so that lack of effort in understanding can cut both ways. Still, what you say about having friends who aren’t interested in how you feel is valid. I think the best approach is to work toward understanding those with different viewpoints without the expectation that they will do the same in return. This is so difficult to do–I don’t want to make it sound easy–but I think it may be one of the most effective first steps toward making progress.
Thank you Jim! I too will never accept this man as my President because of the numerous remarks he has made in haste and hostility. I will continue to voice my thoughts and opinions in a peaceful but determined manner. ALL LIVES matter to me as they should to all people on this planet. It is my responsibility to teach this to my students and I applaud Jennifer for her heartfelt remarks on the subject of moving on. I will move on but I will not be silenced or shut down when it comes to respect and being humane. And I will never accept a bully as president. Only time will tell what will happen. God Bless.
Thank you for your action ideas. Withdrawing and seething with disgust don’t feel right; respectfully standing up and helping others does feel right.
I am even a bigger fan now. Thank you.
Elizabeth, thank you. I’m waiting until later in the day to reply to the other comments, but I wanted to thank you real quick. I have already received one pretty hateful email and am bracing myself for more. I hoped there would be some like you!!
Thank you for your empowering and courageous article. As an educator, it is often overlooked the tasks and responsibilities that we have not only to teach, but to mold, reassure, and empower our students, despite the world that we currently live in or are going to live in, in the future. Your article is a convicting reminder for us as educators to remain involved and aware, and that it is okay for us to have and share our thoughts and opinions, and that they are relevant. Wishing you the best in all that you do!
Thanks, Iwinosa. Our job is a pretty big one, isn’t it?
I really appreciate your honesty here. Much needed! Thanks for the encouragement.
Thank you, Ashley!
Thank you for an amazing array of resources.
Kate, thank you for this. Originally, it was just going to be the ideas, but it didn’t feel right not giving people some tools to work with!
Well done Jenn. Not just because I agree with you, but because you offered responsible ideas about addressing really tough issues for both teachers and everyone else on the planet.
I spent Wednesday in a middle school full of poor, migrant and otherwise disenfranchised kids. They were traumatized and in shock by what had just happened – in their eyes, “to them”, not for them. Tears and fears abundant. One student said, “So let me be sure I understand. This is like “Lord of the Rings” but Sauron wins? Should be interesting.”
All I could do was listen and be present with “my kids” and later their grown ups.
We tossed lesson plans out the window and were Community Wednesday & Thursday (off Friday). Back to work tomorrow.
Sheldon, that sounds like the right response. I’m glad you were there for your kids. I know it made a difference and helped them feel safe.
Nice! Thank you for the much-needed perspective.
I’m glad you liked it, Lee!
The to-do list is wonderful. I also have been teaching students to search deeper than most current media sources. I am a minority where I live and have been threatened because of my views. Although I agree with almost all of your opinions of life, I disagree that government should be the ones to figure it out. I think that is where all educators have failed for several generations (myself included). Civics is not being taught, nor the importance of it. I am an American living in Canada on an First Nations Reserve. My students and their families truly are the product of putting trust into a government. I didn’t vote either way even though I could have.
Though we may be a little different, I think you make great points, some that have kept me safe and successful in the past.
I’m here for the long haul wether I agree or not with your political views.
Hey JT. Thanks for this. I’m glad you’re here to stay.
I greatly appreciate your reasoned, respectful and reflective call to use this destabilizing event as a springboard for multiple teachable moments. To educate is the most democratic of all acts. Through well-chosen lessons, we can perform a great service to the world by giving it an informed, gracious and engaged next generation. In our student-led leadership group here in Ottawa, Me to We, this news had the effect of sharpening the students’ focus and reinforcing their resolve to act locally. I hope, as citizens of this planet, the geopolitical effects of President elect Trump will be less fearful than expected. All the best to you and much thanks for your courage in taking a stand, however gentle.
Hi Marta. Wow, your use of the word “destabilizing” couldn’t be more perfect to describe the impact. I share your hope that we can raise the next generation to be involved, engaged, open, and respectful.
On point as always! Thank you—your work is truly inspiring. Couldn’t agree more with every single recommendation.
Thank you so much, Rachel!
I agree with many of the suggestions that you have put in your post. I applaud your willingness to get to know the other side. A friend approached me about getting to know my side (via Facebook) a few months back. I admit I didn’t reply. The way it was approached (forwarding an opposing article via Facebook which ended with “Let’s hear your story”) just didn’t strike me as authentic.
With that said, many voters did not feel safe to express their views prior to Tuesday. There was a lot of bullying towards Anti-Hillary voters. It was quite volatile wherever you looked. I loved that you referred to the other side as “Trump voters”. According to many sources a majority of the Trump voters were indeed not Trump-supporters. I also applaud your suggestion to start with people closest to you. However, maybe it would be best to start with people who are safest. I would also suggest having conversations with positive people, those who look for the best in humanity instead of the worst.
Karen, I agree about starting with positive people. Sometimes it’s these people who can articulate the feelings of others who agree with them, but aren’t skilled at expressing it without hostility. Great advice.
Jen, most of what you said can be applied across the realm of what we need to do to live in a society where people value people and morals and integrity lead us all in what we say and do. However, you mention media bias. The media and the press are getting hammered because of their one-sided slant toward the Democrats while ignoring the reality of the US people. Google this headline and you will see that the reflection has to go both ways: ‘New York Times issues apology over election coverage.’ Please do not assume that all teachers prefer one side over the other. My Wednesday was quite happy and I could share many reasons why it was such. I could also share a poll we took in our school in the 3rd grade and it was 80% for change–rather for Donald Trump. That means that those 3rd graders’ parents were speaking openly at home; we all know third graders parrot their parents’ beliefs.
I love what you do and how you share it but I had to write this note because there is a huge bunch of educators out here who respect the election process and are not so unhappy by how it turned out.
I would love to hear more about your response to the election results.
As for my tone, I definitely did not intend to imply that all teachers were disappointed by the election results; in several places, I believe I offer options regardless of how one voted. When I speak of the pain I’m hearing from friends & family, etc., I’m talking about confusion and pain on both sides. I’m seeing my conservative friends reeling at being called racists and homophobes. I’m talking about the acts of violence that are occurring now, after the election, on both sides, which I can’t imagine anyone is happy about. My perception is that even though Trump voters are happy with the election results, they aren’t thrilled by the fallout. That’s what I was referring to. As for the 8 points I made in the body of this post, I assumed they would be actions anyone–conservative or liberal–would want to take.
Jennifer, I think you are preaching to the choir–your particular choir. I think It can be very difficult for a liberal teacher to stop teaching through the lens by which everyone who disagrees with you is evil or racist or sexist or stupid, and this site just perpetuates that lens. I see you trying to pull together suggestions to bring unity which is commendable, but I think it’s going to take more work to shatter the glass houses.
I watched the video you provided on racism and the sites that you linked which includes lesson plans designed by Black Lives Matter, and I am simply not seeing the balance. I think a teacher needs to become significantly–almost hyper-aware of their own politics and then become politic in the classroom. One has to truly research all of the angles and All of the media bias (from both sides) and then use that knowledge to better act as an emissary for all students. To be that teacher who can show empathy for all without bringing in their own platform is tough.
I certainly never intended to imply that everyone who disagrees with me is evil or racist or sexist or stupid. In fact, the two sources I reference above (the Russell Brand video and the Cracked piece) both make exactly the opposite point, that if people on the left continue to characterize those on the right in that way, they are missing the point.
I wonder if you can show me where I referenced lesson plans created by BLM? I don’t see a reference to BLM lesson plans anywhere on this post, nor do I see it in the social justice resources post I link to. I’m also curious what it was about the video on racism that you found unbalanced. I guess I am operating under the assumption that anyone, regardless of their political leanings, would want to know how to stand up to violence and harrassment. Am I wrong there? Is there another side I’m not considering?
That aside, I do want to add that although I attempted to reach out to all teachers, regardless of their vote, to find ways we can come together and heal, I was not attempting to take a neutral stance or disguise my own ideologies. I agree that being completely bias-free is difficult. What I’m advocating here is that we try harder to share our point of view in a way that does not insult or demean the other side.
Under the Anti-defamation League
Current Events Classroom
Black Lives Matter
From Hashtag to Movement
Hi again. I swear I’m not trying to make this difficult, but I went to the Current Events Classroom that I linked to in the Social Justice post, and I don’t see the list you have here.
Regardless, I did find the lesson plan on BLM that was created by the ADL. I think it’s important to note that the ADL created this plan, not some representative of BLM. If you look at the lesson plan, it introduces the movement in the same way that a history textbook might, then asks students to discuss their opinions about it. Moreover, the plan actually includes updates that mention factions of the movement that the ADL opposes. I’m not seeing how my providing a link to these resource perpetuates the lens you mentioned above. If you’re still willing to continue here with me, can you tell me more about why it looks that way to you?
I am a homeschool co-op group leader who reads your posts and has gleaned some great teaching tools from you. However, when I saw you were going to write about the election, I considered skipping this post because I couldn’t bring myself to read another rant by someone I previously respected. I am glad I did not skip it.
You, thankfully, did not disappoint; this was not a rant. You shared good information, just as I have come to expect from you. I wholeheartedly appreciate your encouragement to everyone to listen to all sides.
As a former liberal myself, there is much I understand about why others are currently upset and yet it disturbs me that so many appear to be failing to really think about what brought this to pass. Ironically, as I have aged and the world outside my door (yet feeding my TV and computer) became more liberal, I became more conservative. As this happened, I have also experienced the phenomenon of needing to withhold my now more conservative comments due to being shut down by those who do not share my viewpoints.
For what it’s worth, if you’re wondering, I voted for a write-in because that’s what my own conscience dictated. Yet I will support and give our new president a chance because I believe that is what will help our country function the best. Thank you for helping open the doorway to true understanding and a willingness to work synergistically rather than remaining divided. As someone recently said, we truly are stronger together.
Hi Kate. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here. If you’re willing, I would be very interested to learn more about which issues in particular pushed you in a more conservative direction, and where you think that change came from. I’m very curious.
First, I am thirty, I am college educated, I am a public school teacher, and I voted for Trump.
Second, I can still appreciate your work apart from your political views so I don’t feel the need to block your e-mails. Plugging your ears because you disagree with an opinion is a form of contrived ignorance.
Second, for being a person of tolerance, you took a stance that the election was a tragedy. That the only democratic result that would have been acceptable would be a one person ticket for Clinton. What about the students who’s parents and family share conservative values, who’s parents lost jobs to overseas trade, and who have received not very “affordable” healthcare. I just was officially hired as a teacher this year and have been working in the private sector for the last fifteen. For those of you who have been teachers since you left college, you have been insulated with job security, constant wage increases, and benefits. As soon as ACA was passed, my insurance carrier dropped me and I was forced to find more expensive insurance with a $10,000 deductible. My family of three made less then $45,000 a year with two incomes, how could we afford $10,000 for medical bills and pay $4,000 for this so called “affordable” insurance to go along with it?
Third, I support all of my students regardless of race, gender, gender identity, religion, and political ideals. I care about them as humans but I can exercise my right of freedom and disagree with personal lifestyles (just as most of you will disagree with me, freedom rocks!).
Lastly, I would have appreciated another republican candidate on the ballot besides Donald Trump. He would never be my first choice. But with a Supreme Court Justice seat on the line, and the vote comes down to Clinton or him, I had to choose him for my two daughter’s sake. I hope that this tolerance and acceptance that is “said” by liberalists (but not necessarily practiced as demonstrated by violence and vandalism for those who are not supportive of the democratic system) will be passed on to them if they are pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay marriage, Christians, and Republicans.
You are not the first person to mention that my post implied that the election results were a tragedy, so I feel the need to clarify: My reference to the pain and heartbreak above is about the fallout I’m seeing since the results were announced. I’m seeing friends and family on both sides in pain because of all the fighting and name-calling that has happened since the election. And I would also assume that everyone would be disturbed by all the violence and hate crimes that have occurred in the last week. That’s the pain I was referring to. This was not intended to be a lamentation about the results themselves. The thing I find so problematic is the degree to which we really just don’t understand each other.
I appreciate your boldness in putting yourself out there for this discussion. I wish you all the best and agree it is time to move forward, accepting differences, but being true to who we are. I just wanted to voice my opinion in a tide where those who voted for the president elect are seen as hate mongers and imbeciles, which is simply untrue as a blanket statement (there are some in each party). Thank you for your response and for the work you put into elevating the teaching profession. God Bless and I look forward to reading more of your great posts.
Kiah, thank you so much for coming back. It’s been good talking to you.
Thanks for stating it so well, Kiah.
Karen – Thanks for your additional voice and insights. I also like your closing suggestions. Have a good week.
Thank you for using the power of words to articulate thoughtfully and clearly what so many of us are thinking and feeling. Thank you for adding to our toolbox of ways to handle this disturbing time in the history of this amazing country. Thank you for your courage! Your blog posts are already a gift. This post is so beautifully prepared. With gratitude and blessings, Lisa
Lisa, thanks so much.
Jennifer, I so appreciate your words. You are often able to say what a lot of us would like to say, but don’t quite know how. I am an instructor in the education department at a private college, and I am going to share this post with them. We discussed the election results and implications for teachers in my classes, but you’ve brought up some excellent points to consider for all of us. Thank you!
Thanks, Diane. I hope it is well received and generates good discussion.
Ooooops! I should have stopped reading at #7. While the article was about how to respectfully disagree, the ending felt like just the opposite. I loved the video though!
Oh no! Did that seem disrespectful to you? I was trying to share the issues that are the most important to me, then express the hope that knowing these things about me wouldn’t cause some people to cut ties. What part of that was disrespectful?
Jennifer, I have been a fan of yours for well over a year. I have to admit that, as a closet Republican, I was a little nervous about reading this particular post and wondered where you were going to head with it. I didn’t want to be disappointed with a negative rant about our election outcome. After reading through it however, I have to say that I respect you even more! Thank you!!!
Amy, thank you so much. I’m curious about your “closet Republican” status. This must have been quite a week for you. If you’re willing to share more of your story, I would love to hear it.
Russell Brand and Cracked magazine are your sources of information about the “other side”? Really? Jennifer, if you want to understand the other side, why not read some conservative writers, such as the excellent writer Kenneth D. Williamson. Do you ever read the National Review, Commentary, (magazines) or any conservative blogs like Hot Air, Ace of Spades, or Powerline? You may be surprised.
Lona, thanks for the recommendations. I’m not sure if you watched Russell Brand’s video or read the Cracked article, but they both really did help to reshape my thinking toward conservatives in a more positive way. But I recognize that both are obviously coming at the issue from a very liberal perspective.
My exposure to conservative media in general is pretty much limited to Fox News and websites where there are a lot of exclamation points and words written in all caps. I’m familiar with the National Review but haven’t read it in a long time. I will check out the publications you recommended. Thanks again for hanging in here with me.
Thank you so much for writing this. My heart has broken too many times this past week, and your response helped ease the pain. Thank you for your strength and vulnerability.
Whoops, Kevin D. Williamson, not Kenneth. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/442155/donald-trump-executive-power-left-loves-constitutional-checks-balances-again
Reading now. I can see why you like him.
This was my favorite line so far: “Donald Trump of Manhattan and Palm Beach, a man whose personal style makes Liberace look like Danny Trejo, is, according to this view, going to be the great catalyst for anti-gay pogroms. You could make a case for racist and sexist — a pretty good one — but anti-gay? Not really.”
Again, thanks for the recommendation. I’ll be adding this to my Feedly.
Jennifer, I think you are right to take a stand. In the end, neutrality is an illusion. Teachers who strive for neutrality are kidding themselves–neutrality really just stands for the status quo, which for too long has represented only a small group of people.
At the end of the day, as teachers, we are dedicated first and foremost to supporting our students as they learn how to navigate the world around them. On Wednesday morning, we woke up to a world in which many of our students no longer feel safe in or loved by U.S. society. To remain silent in the face of the statement sent by Trump voters would be, implicitly, to condone the message. They need us to help them navigate the landscape of our society as it’s been rewritten.
The people writing on this post that they cannot condone your thinking and will therefore unsubscribe have betrayed the reality of the Trump voter–they will ask for and demand understanding, but refuse to give it in return, not even for the sake of their students. To unsubscribe from such a helpful and supportive teaching website in light of your views is childish, arrogant, and self-serving.
Keep speaking your truth. We need more people like you taking action to keep our schools safe for everyone.
Thanks so much, Audrey. My plan is to put so much awesomeness out there that they just can’t stand to stay away.
Perfection! I hope every teacher reads this!
Kady, thank you!
Pretty clear that you are one of those “progressives” who wants teachers to use their classrooms to brainwash students in the direction of your political views as much as you can. I consider that reprehensible. Teach your subject matter well, no one appointed you to be a legislator, or a psychologist, or a social engineer, or a priest. If you want to be a social activist, leave the kids out of it, they aren’t your kids. And don’t try and claim that you aim here isn’t because you can’t stand the fact that Clinton lost this election.
Hi Terry. Yeah, I would be okay with labeling myself as a “progressive.” I think we all bring our own biases into the classroom. What I’m trying to do here is help us work toward understanding opposing views better, and expressing ourselves as kindly as possible.
Thank you for this well written article that serves as such a timely reminder of the need to become conscious of our own binary thinking and perspective on issues out there. It is uncomfortable to “challenge” your views and beliefs by being open to understanding those of others when they are not in line with your own, but so important. It’s not about agreeing but about acceptance. Only then can there be any progress in moving forward. The bottom line is that on this planet there is no them and us, only us, all of us.
Your article evoked the mission statement of my children’s international school in Asia, “UWC makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.” And they walk the walk!
Again, thank you.
Thanks for sharing this, Susanne. I agree, there is only “us.”
Thank you for a proactive voice for positive change and acceptance. Everyone, regardless of their political position, should be able to take one step forward. Once moving forward, we can start to focus on where those steps are taking us, hopefully, at some point in the near future, the steps forward will take us all to the same destination – accepting and embracing our diversity.
Thank you for your voice.
I appreciate this, Carrie. Thank you.
Sorry to keep banging away at this, but you said, “Work to understand people whose perspectives are different from yours” and you point us to a video clip titled “Trump. Right. Okay, the world’s gone nuts” and an article titled:”How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind.” And you’re worried that the efforts you’ve made to understand the ‘other’ might be perceived by your peers as acquiescence or worse, concurrence? What does that say about the ideological conformity demanded by your peers? And the condescension of your worldview?
Point well taken again. I maintain that both the video and the Cracked article significantly reshaped my thinking, in a positive way, toward the conservative point of view. No question these titles would be offensive to a conservative, and to be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about the titles when I linked to them, but rather, the messaging inside them. I think when a person is reaching out to “their” people (as Russell brand and David Wong clearly are in these pieces), they use language that will draw that audience in and get their attention. But in both cases, the pieces are quite sympathetic to the conservative point of view. I will check out Williamson.
Thank you for your open-minded and courteous response.
Thank you for your thoughtful and courageous post.
I’m glad you liked it, Sally. Thank you.
Thank you for this great post!
Kirstie, thank you!!
Thanks so much, L!
This particular post should be read by all teachers across the country, because the topics you suggest we work on cover many different aspects of issues about freedom, justice, and developing an informed, critical perspective as citizens of this country. Indeed, we shouldn’t do any less for our children. Teaching them the skills to help them understand different perspectives, how to disagree respectfully, and to develop a critical eye about sources are necessary in a democracy. We will never all agree with each other on all issues, but there are some standards of human decency that we should work from and model for our children (and some adults). I applaud and deeply respect what you are trying to do here.
For those that think it incorrect to take a particular perspective, the truth is that there is not honestly such a thing as a neutral or objective position on social issues. Any statement is embedded in a set of assumptions that amount to a perspective. It would be far better for our students to be exposed to different perspectives, and learn tools to use to challenge the reasoning, question the assumptions, and recognize the rhetorical devises used, than to pretend that there is only one proper perspective. Empowered with these types of tools, they can go on to develop their own perspectives in a way that will make them critical consumers of the media and political leaders.
In the final instance, though, we are returned to the questions of justice, freedom, democracy, and what are the consequences to our communities when we don’t treat each other with human decency. When we dehumanize others, we also dehumanize ourselves. When we belittle others concerns, we are in fact making ourselves less. When we hold each other in a safe and respectful space, we can begin to hear each other’s deep concerns, and work towards common ground, but we have to know that will be difficult and uncomfortable at times. I sincerely hope that there are enough of us who choose the path of human decency to make a positive difference for our shared space in this country, and on this planet.
Thank you again.
Beautifully written, Don. Thank you for sharing this.
I firmly believe that as Americans, we need to use our free speech rights to talk about what’s happening in our nation. Thank you so much for writing your thoughts and encouraging all of your readers to be our best selves. I especially appreciated your suggesting that we continue to emphasize relationships among students and teachers and that we need to listen rather than clam up or yell. We need to respectfully understand each other.
Thanks so much, Joan. If I had to name a single cure-all for all kinds of education-related problems, from classroom management to student engagement to teacher retention to attendance, it would be relationships. I’m so glad you recognize their value as well.
I especially appreciate section 4 “Teach Media Literacy”. It’s important for students to understand the responsibility they bear as citizens to gather facts from a variety of sources so they can come to a more complete understanding of the issues that affect all of us. And, unfortunately, they need to learn to “follow the money”. Who funds the media? Or is the media genuinely concerned with presenting all sides of important issues? Who’s funding the protests, the matching signs, and the busing-in of protestors? Or, are they really an organic uprising of concerned citizens? It takes time and effort to see the bigger picture; much easier to join the crowd and chant mantras. Thanks, Jennifer.
It’s so much easier to see the bias and corporate influence in the “opposing side’s” media. A heck of a lot harder to see it in your own. That’s what I’m struggling with this week. Teaching our students how to ask the questions and slow their responses is a great step toward building a more informed next generation.
Another great media literacy site is Frank Baker’s Media Literacy Clearinghouse (http://frankwbaker.com/) and consider joining Making Curriculum Pop, which helps teachers make real-world connections to every content area (http://mcpopmb.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network)
Thanks for the recommendation, Jane.
thanks for the opportunity to think more about steps going forward.
I appreciate this, Mark. Thanks.
Thank you for providing ways all of us can work together to move forward.
I’m glad you found it helpful, Karen. Thank you.
I just want to say thanks for posting that Cracked blog post – it actually brought tears to my eyes. The language was awful, I’m sure I don’t agree with him politically, but my biggest concern over the last week has been how either given 60 million beautiful, bright, smart, thinking people can think the other 60 million beautiful, bright, smart, thinking people can be completely unfounded and committed to the destruction of America. I didn’t vote for Trump and I didn’t vote for Hillary (I proudly voted for Evan McMullan). I’m disgusted with the entire election but I believe in our country and I don’t believe we’re headed for disaster or would have been if Hillary had been elected. We have a lot of checks and balances, a lot of people who love our country, and a lot of people who love the “other” and know there is other in all of us. So anything that says hey- the other 60 million maybe had solid reasons for doing what they did, too, and maybe if we listen to each other we’ll have a better chance of healing and improving the problems on both sides, I’m cheering and crying for that voice. Because oh my word, I am so tired of the message that “Aren’t they just a mass of ignorant, rageful, crude, cursing, spitting subhumans?” I didn’t vote for Trump, but I firmly believe that any conversation I’m going to get into with my fellow progressive educators is going to end up with that opinion of me sneaking in their hearts. Because I’m not heard as a woman who knows the evangelical community is doing so little to care for the smallest and most in crisis but who champions the right of an unborn baby to live above any other right. Because I’m not heard as a woman who sees the image of God created in every skin color and in my gay friends and in people who tattoo epithets across their foreheads but who sees freedom being stripped from those who don’t want the cultural revolution choosing exactly what messages they can and cannot inscribe on a bakery cake. Because I’m not seen as a woman who listens to her Air Force brother’s fears of what happens when people get sloppy with military secrets or what happens to the children in Aleppo when leaders are too cautious to take military action. No, I’m just an “ignorant, rageful, crude, cursing, spitting subhuman,” and I’m so tired of it.
Thank you for calling us to hear the voices of the other 60 million.
Sara-Elizabeth, I’m honored to have these beautiful words on my website. We feel very much the same way about a lot of things, and you expressed them so well. I think my favorite is this: “There is other in all of us.” If we can all just consider this, a lot could be accomplished. Keep speaking up. We need more voices like yours.
Wow! One of the things I learned about an amazing speaker was his/her ability to say in a cogent way what I was thinking but couldn’t put into words. 98% of your blog was pulled right out of my thoughts and I thank you for taking the time and especially the courage to write this. THANK YOU!
Dr. Deb, thank you so much!!
Thank you so much for your thoughts. I often feel like a “blue dot” in the middle of a very red county (and school district), but I realize that I am sometimes too quick to jump to conclusions about the positions that friends and coworkers take on the political and social spectrum.
It truly does begin with education, with learning empathy, and with having open and honest conversations. The more we stereotype others and box people in, no matter the label, that is where true growth and healing are cut short. Thank you so much for taking a stand and for helping to give voice to what I had been feeling this week in my own heart.
Kelsey, I am also a blue dot. I think anytime there’s a strong majority in a region, those whose views don’t align with that majority stay quiet, and this makes that majority seem even more prevalent. I hope we can all–liberals in conservative communities and conservatives in liberal communities–be a little more brave in sharing our real thoughts. We might find we are not the only ones.
I have started and canceled several replies… and I am not sure how I should best reply. I appreciate your comments about what educators can do but really, when I pass by classrooms on our campus, I hear more “NOT MY PRESIDENT” and “KEEP FIGHTING” being stated than I do about how students can move forward in a positive and unified way. Educators have an awesome responsibility to create unity, not further divide our society. As a call to my peers, be an adult and a positive example to those who are watching. Use the opportunity to teach our students some grit… to know what to do when things don’t go their way. We owe them that!
Here is an excellent resource for teaching students about local and state government and engaging them in it: http://www.civiced.org/pc-program
“Entire classes of students or members of youth or adult organizations work cooperatively to identify a public policy problem in their community. They then research the problem, evaluate alternative solutions, develop their own solution in the form of a public policy, and create a political action plan to enlist local or state authorities to adopt their proposed policy. Participants develop a portfolio of their work and present their project in a public hearing showcase before a panel of civic-minded community members. Many of the student groups involved in the program actually take the next step of direct civic engagement by contacting appropriate public officials and attempting to influence them to adopt their policy proposal.”
I’ve been following your blog and podcasts for years. I always greatly appreciate the resources you share, and the way you encourage others to tell their story. I’m sorry some people felt the need to go negative after you bravely shared so much about yourself here. Thank you for all you do.
I have been a Cult of Pedagogy devotee for over two years now, and I contemplated applying for one of the positions you recently had posted. Having read today’s post, I am sad that I didn’t follow through with a decision to do so–I am continually impressed by what you share with your followers. Thank you for speaking at a time when many don’t have the words, the courage or the platform to do so and for providing the resources for others to grow in this regard.
I’m moved by your words! This is what I call a positive response, when something doesn’t happen the way we want… I’m from Brasil, and we’ve been living in a very similar division atmosphere here… where people just pass on information, get influenced by the media and all the crap they fill our timeline, everyday… Thank you so much for your suggestions, I’ll pass them on to my fellow teachers! You are such a brave and kind person!
Thanks for having the courage to write this, Jenn. I really appreciate your words and suggestions.
Nooo! Please tell me Cult of Pedagogy is still the sanctuary for level-headed educators that it has always been! I come here to find inspiration and food for thought and lately to escape the insanity of this election and rekindle my passion for teaching and learning. No more politics, please! Like I say to my students: Does anyone else have something to share? No? Then let’s get back to doing what we came here to do – the important work of learning and loving.
This is the only time I plan on addressing the election. I would have felt like I was sticking my head in the sand if I ignored it here. In the same way that I regularly delve into topics like relationship building, social justice issues, and cultural competency, I felt that because this issue is so relevant to so many people, it will impact how well our classrooms function. I also see a lot of people fighting, name-calling, and doing everything BUT having rational conversations with each other. It’s very difficult to untangle our emotions as people from the work we do, so when I see that kind of turmoil, I want to do what I can to address it in a healthy way so we can make it a teachable moment.
I love this blog and think you are so representative of many of us educators out here in the real world. Thank you for your kind heart and your passion for teaching.
Thanks so much for this, Courtney.
Thank you for this. I needed this.
I’m so glad to hear it, Lisa.
Jennifer, I am late catching up my e-mail so I got to read all of the responses. You are absolutelly perfect and your post for this past Sunday was fabulous. All of the things that are important to you are exactly the things that are important to me. I agree with you 100%. These are honorable things to be passionate about. Bravo for speaking up.
Thank you, Kris. This means a lot to me!
Hi Jen, I Know I’ll return to your article many times, when I need a compass. Really wonderful to hear your thoughts and I think you’ve distilled beautifully what we need to do. In the end it’s the daily ways we relate and listen to each other that determines things and can change things, for the better. Found Russel brand’s video interesting. He’s pretty on to things isn’t he! Many thanks, Zan
Thank you, Zan. I hope this post (and all the fantastic discussions I’m seeing in the comments) will continue to be helpful.
Hello, I am a student in the mathematics secondary education program at the University of Illinois preparing for student teaching in the spring semester. I would like to thank you for this post. I appreciate your thoughts and the resources that you have provided. My response to the election results was that of shock and being upset, but I understand that many people including some of my peers had genuine fears for their safety based off of some of President-Elect Trump’s rhetoric. I began to think of what I would do if I was already teaching and may have students who have many of those same feelings or those of excitement or a combination. Would I just ignore the results or would I make a statement? What would be right and appropriate? I’m glad that I didn’t actually have to make a decision, but now I think that I would have a better idea after reading your post so thanks for that. My one question is about the “Coming out of the closet” point. I understand that this was more meant for interactions with peers and family, but how much can and should we share with students? I would appreciate any thoughts or experiences having to do with this. Thank you!
When I first started reading this article, my first thought was that I wish I had come across it sooner. One of my first thoughts when I realized what the election results would be was wanting a past teacher of mine to explain to me how this happened. Immediately after, I was thankful that I wasn’t a classroom teacher yet because I didn’t feel prepared to handle this situation with my own students. Even though I’ve come across this article a little late, it still provided some much needed thoughtfulness and positivity. I think the steps you’ve outlined for moving forward speak a lot about how teachers are responsible for so much more than teaching content. It made me think of the great teachers I had that inspired me to become a teacher and it made me hopeful that I could be that person for my own future students. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and the wisdom of others whose posts you linked.
I teach government, and have found that a great way to get kids thinking about local politics is to a) find ways to incentivize them to attend either City Council or School Board meetings, and then have them process the experience through a project and share what they’ve learned with their peers, and b) have local elected officials come in to talk with them. School Board members and City Council members have come to my classes to speak, and the kids have had great conversations with them. However, I would say that the most eye-opening experiences for them have been going to public meetings. Thanks for the article!
As a long time learner and 25 year elementary educator, I feel so fortunate when I find blogs like this to affirm and reassure, and make me feel this world will change for the better… although online teaching has about cut any personal time to read blogs out of the week 🙂 We are in this together – be a nation of people who care about each other and want to work together to better ourselves and our country. Bravo Jennifer.