We each have our own feelings about the protests following the death of George Floyd. However, allow your learning environment to be a safe space for our students to listen and express their feelings. Respect means validating someone’s feelings even if you don’t share them.
Start by checking in with students. Consider opening with these trauma-resilience informed practices by asking:
1. Check-in: How are you today?
2. Maintaining high expectations: What are your goal(s)?
3. Help-seeking and goal attainment: How will you achieve this (or these) goals?
You may also use the poll or the thumbs up/down feature on Zoom or a verbal yes/no to determine whether your students want to discuss the current incidents. They may want to talk or they may want a respite from the stress. Follow their lead.
For support in using a Virtual Classroom Community Building circle, click the link: https://achieve.lausd.net/PBIS_RP
Creating space for feelings and experiences
Individuals may experience a range of emotions in response to current events, including anger, frustration, fear, numbness. Many of these feelings are rooted in very real injustices and inequities that are ever-present in our communities and a part of our students’ lives. It is critical that we create space for students to express their feelings and acknowledge and validate lived experience and individuals’ feelings. Ask or say:
• Would you like to talk more about how you are feeling? If not, that’s okay.
• I hear how you are feeling. I am here to support you.
Addressing stereotypes, generalizations, and bias
When something distressing occurs it’s tempting to generalize that experience to everyone of that identity, however it is incumbent on us as educators to challenge those generalizations. The actions of the officers in Minneapolis were wrong, but they do not represent all police officers. Likewise, the actions of some protesters do not represent all protesters. Profiling is wrong, whether we are profiling Black men, police officers, protesters, rioters, or people of Asian descent with regard to the Coronavirus. These are nuanced conversations.
Building Community and Connectedness
Each member of our school community brings their unique lived experience into our classrooms. While our diversity is our strength, this strength is only unleashed when we come together as one to practice hope and be the change in our school communities. Our classrooms and school communities must be connected, compassionate, and working toward social justice. Every movement has had its allies. Give all students an opportunity to express themselves, work toward social justice, and to know that we, as adults, are allies.
The below listed Community Unrest, Justice & Support websites, articles and resources can be used to springboard conversations around current events and engage students on actions they might take to promote positive change in the world around them.
Visit Let's Talk for age-appropriate resources to talk with children about violence
What we can’t control might frightens us. Anxiety and suspicion rose as the Coronavirus pandemic spread. Crises cause us to evaluate our humanity and our vulnerabilities. The resources offered here are for teachers, parents and students to support ourselves and each other during this time.
- Let's Talk - Politics
"What truly makes our country great is its diversity. I've seen that beauty in so many ways over the years. Whether we are born here or seek refuge here, there's a place for us all. We must remember it's not my America or your America. It's our America." Michelle Obama, 2019
In times of conflict, divisive rhetoric, and information overload, students benefit from opportunities for meaningful dialogue about the issues that we are facing today. Let’s Talk has articles and lesson plans on crises and conflicts, politics and government.
- Be the Change. It's Our Planet. It's Our Future. Act Now.
- Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity/Expression (SOGIE)
- Diversity - Me, You, Us
- Now Matters Later
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