Tomorrow is not simply another day at school.
Tomorrow is a day when kids will be confused, scared, angry, and some excited because their parents are proud of what happened today.
Tomorrow is not simply another day at school. Tomorrow is a day when kids need the opportunity to ask questions, to write about their anger, to understand the electoral process as we move from popular vote to electoral vote to Congressional acceptance of the electoral college. They need facts and school is the place for critical thinking and respectful discussions.
Tomorrow is not simply another day at school. Teachers will walk into classrooms or will turn on their Zoom screens and try to hold in check their own fury, disappointment, and confusion as they help fourteen-year-olds try to process what has happened today. They will have heard that Vice-President Pence said that our Capitol was under unprecedented attack while the President announced that the election was stolen.
Older students should listen to Trump’s video statement and Biden’s video statement and discuss which one calms a nation and which one incites a nation. I want them to read and discuss Langston Hughes “Let America Be America Again” and I would make “sedition” the word of the day. I would turn to the Three Big Questions Bob Probst and I presented in our book Reading Nonfiction:
- What surprised you?
- What did the author think you already knew?” (In this case, the author could be the news reporters or members of Congress.)
- What changed, challenged, or confirmed your thinking?
Keeping listening. I hope at some point you hear our white students wondering what would have happened if those rioters had been Black.
Younger students will wonder “Can this happen here?” or “Why did these people do this?” I would want them to talk about how we should share our differences. I want them to know that there are far more good people than bad people, that far more people share their disappointments with words rather than violence. I would want them to draw pictures that explain how they felt and let them talk and talk.
For any age students, use the fiction signposts and turn them inward. Let students share their own Tough Questions; their own Aha Moments; their own Memory Moments; their own Words of Wisdom. If you aren’t sure what the Signposts are, see Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading.
Tomorrow is not simply another day at school. Don’t expect it to be. Don’t expect that you will know the answers to all their questions because kids always ask the hardest questions. So, dear teachers, do what you do so well. Listen. Say, “Tell me more.” Remind all that they are growing into adults who will be better than the adults they saw on television today and can practice now learning to listen respectfully to one another. Ask them what they want to write – letters to the editor; letters to their Congressperson; a poem; create a video cast; a pod cast. Ask them what they want to read.
I would tell them over and over again that good people have not disappeared. We are still here. We are listening to them – our nation’s kids – because they will remember this day and they are the ones that can make sure this never happens again.
Tomorrow is not simply another day at school. You have had far too many of these days, dear teachers. Somewhere in you, you always find the heart, the courage, the compassion to set aside that lesson on sequencing or multiplying or the explanation of a cell and instead embrace their questions, their concerns, and their fears, and as you give them facts, you give them what we all need most: hope.
For what you will do tomorrow, thank you.