In this post-election time, many of you are asking for resources to support your students. In a recent blog post, our colleagues at Michigan’s Center for Research on Teaching and Learning remind us that there are many factors that will influence whether or not you choose to engage your students in conversations about current events. Your own emotions, positionality, and confidence with facilitating difficult conversations are just three among many legitimate reasons.
Even if you choose not to discuss events directly in class, there are a few things you can do to support your students’ well-being and learning. For example, your students will appreciate it if you acknowledge in person or in an email that this is a difficult time and that they may be struggling to keep up with school work. This simple acknowledgement can normalize feelings of distress, ease a sense of isolation, and signal that you care. If you teach immediately following a distressing incident, consider inviting your students at the beginning of class to free-write for a few minutes about a prompt such as the following: “How do you make sense of the current events and your emotions in light of your values? Who do you want to reach out to later in the day for more processing and support?” You may also give students the choice to leave class if they need to process differently and offer flexibility regarding assignment deadlines. We know from the research that such an acknowledgement can increase students sense of belonging and their ability to learn.
For further resources on responding to specific incidents and on inclusive teaching and difficult dialogues more generally, please see the following selection.
Responding to specific incidents (U Michigan):
- Responding to incidents of hate speech
- Guidelines for both spontaneous and planned discussions following campus incidents of hate, bias, and discrimination
- Returning to the classroom after the election
Resources for critical conversations and inclusive teaching:
- Inclusive Teaching & Difficult Dialogues (U Michigan)
- Guide to Difficult Dialogues (U Vanderbilt)
- Handbook on Difficult Dialogues (U Alaska)
Self-care as a member of a marginalized group and an academic:
- Radical self-care (facultydiversity.org)
We would be happy to talk with you about further strategies within the context of your particular teaching setting. Call us at 434-982-2815 or request a confidential consultation online.
The CTE is committed to the values of diversity, inclusion, social justice, and education.