As we all grapple with the conclusion of Election 2016, your students may be feeling scared, sad, confused, or just plain uncertain about what the future may hold. This election season was divisive and difficult, and the stress of its tumultuous end can have a tremendous effect on your students’ health and well-being. So, how can teachers support all their students, and maintain a healthy environment in the classroom during this uncertain time?
Here are a few tips teachers should consider to support students following this most recent election cycle:
- Create a safe space.
It’s important for students to be able to openly share their feelings about the election and feel comfortable doing so. You students spend a large portion of the day in the classroom, so it’s only natural that your classroom serves as a setting for honest dialogue and reflection. Whether it’s through a private journaling activity, pairing students off for discussion, or facilitating a conversation among the whole class, it’s important for your students, and you, too, to have a space to openly express your thoughts, fears, and feelings.
- Build your classroom community.
Another great strategy for supporting your students after the election and creating a culture of empathy in your classroom is to focus on community. Work into your lesson plans activities that encourage your students to build stronger relationships with one another and foster mutual understanding and respect. These activities could come in the form of games or group projects related to the electoral process, or ideas and innovations that look toward the future.
- Focus on language and listening.
During difficult times, it’s always important to be deliberate about the language you use when interacting with and engaging your students. Guide any classroom discussions with active listening and positive reinforcement that will empower your students and make them feel like they’re heard. Simple statements, such, “You have a valid point,” or “I understand,” will go a long way when it comes to supporting your students.
- Remember your ultimate goal.
It’s important not to let the election distract you from your goals, but find ways to integrate it into your lessons in a way that is supportive, respectful of your students’ well-being, and still in line with academic success. Consider this time as an opportunity to engage your students—offering appropriate support when they need it—while they move forward on their educational journey.
What strategies have you used to support your students following the election? Share your experiences and ideas below.