Inspiration from the Resilience of Educators
As we watched the events at the Capitol unfold on January 6th, like many, our team jumped into crisis response mode. A planned all-day, company-wide training and retreat was canceled, as we checked in on teammates in the D.C. area, and reached out to partners, family, and friends to see how we might support them. We created safe spaces for each other to debrief and discuss, find some comfort amid the uncertainty, and pause on our to-do lists for the day if needed.
Once the initial shock wore off and the flurry of activity wound down, I was sitting glued to my screen, constantly refreshing my feeds. I’d already passed the point where my mind was begging for a break from the news, needing time and space to process what I was seeing, but I’m the person at Education Elements who’s responsible for our social media channels (👋🏽) – this is what I do! Sad and overwhelmed, I remarked to my team, ‘This is one of the few times I’m not happy to be “the social media person”’. I had no idea that by the end of the night, I couldn’t disagree more with those words if I tried.
Interspersed with the endless Tweeted and Retweeted videos and pictures from the siege of the Capitol were responses from educators, ranging from, “I can’t believe this is happening” to “I’m not surprised at all”; from “What am I supposed to do in class tomorrow?” to “This is my history lesson brought to life”; and two things became abundantly clear.
Fellow teachers.. how are you addressing current events in the classroom? What are you telling students if they bring it up?— Paige (@paige_tambasco) January 7, 2021
And so how do we approach this with students tomorrow?— Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp) January 6, 2021
- Many educators were struggling with how to address the day’s events with their students. Some teachers were with their classes virtually, watching the events unfold live, with no framework or guidance on a situation like this one.
- Many other educators were leaping into action, sharing their ideas and plans, some even dropping everything to create brand new lesson plans for their classes the following day.
Scratch the history lesson you planned for tomorrow.— Teresa Lance, Ed.D (@teresa_lance) January 6, 2021
I am a history teacher, and tomorrow, so are you.— Dylan Huisken, 2019 MT Teacher of the Year (@2019MTTOY) January 7, 2021
Tomorrow's History lesson, that I will be teaching, happened today.— Nicholas Ferroni (@NicholasFerroni) January 6, 2021
Looking back through social media in the days since, there’s no end to the lesson plans, self-care ideas, conversation frameworks, articles, tweets, and more that have been shared, all geared towards enabling educators to teach and help students process the events of January 6th. Many of these are from education organizations or media publications.
That evening, however, I watched as our community banded together to support one another through the tremendous task of leading our young people through yet another crisis.
As expected, the best thing I could do today for my students was get out of their way. They are raising such insightful points, questions, frustrations, anger, sadness, and hope.— Sara Ziemnik (@sziemnik2198) January 7, 2021
Here is what I used, if it helps anyone out there today. https://t.co/QAjCJskubc
One way to consider teaching today: read summaries of what happened yesterday looking closely at language. Study the media collages of images--those were crafted with intention. Read like writers. Ask questions of the text: what is said? What is not said? How is it said?— penny kittle (@pennykittle) January 7, 2021
If you're an educator and you did not make a lesson plan during the events of last night - that's ok.— Islah Tauheed (@izzieteaches) January 7, 2021
If you aren't sure what to say this morning - that's ok.
But please give space for students to express what they saw and how they're feeling. Let that be your guide.
This Twitter thread and this blog post from Larry Ferlazzo curate just some of the responses from educators on Twitter, like the ones you see in this post; the #sschat community quickly repurposed a scheduled Twitter chat to crowdsource this list of resources. We shared our own roundup of resources which originated as a Twitter thread, and most of these resources came from current and former teachers, coaches, and school leaders.
This wasn’t the first time – and unfortunately, it may not be the last – that teachers have been called upon to navigate the impact of world events with their students. Some teachers recalled other events that felt similarly difficult to address with their students, like 9/11, the Columbine shooting, Sandy Hook, and the murder of George Floyd, or reflected on how their own teachers responded to crisis when they were students.
I was a classroom teacher on 9/11. We knew what was happening in New York, but we kept our focus on our students and made them feel safe. Today feels eerily similar, and I am grateful to the educators who created a safe environment for their students today.— Dr. Chad S. Dickemper (@chaddickemper) January 6, 2021
I was in my 6th grade math class on 9/11. I don't remember my teacher saying much, but she didn't pretend it was business as usual either.— Tyler Harris (@iamMrHarris) January 7, 2021
As a math teacher, I feel ill-equipped to help my students process yesterday. I think it's important to still try.#iteachmath
Just as my teachers showed up for me post 9/11. Just as my teachers helped me feel safe. Just as my teachers honored my feelings, my rage... Just as my teachers helped me process. I will show up for my students. I will show up. Today. Tomorrow. Always.— Mr. C 🌎 (@MrC_A2) January 7, 2021
We know it isn’t easy. Even with guidance around teaching through trauma and discussing difficult current events, at the end of the day, we know it’s still educators who have to stand up in front of their students and help them navigate what they see happening in the world or education leaders who are tasked with leading their teams through trying times. A sentiment in the article, When Bad Things Happen, from Teaching Tolerance really stuck with me and reinforced how important the roles of educators and schools are:
Educators are in a unique position to help children navigate this sometimes-violent world.“We don’t ask teachers to be therapists, but they’re the ones on the front lines,” says Cathy Kennedy-Paine, a school psychologist and trauma specialist. “They’re the ones hearing kids’ stories.”
If you're looking for some inspiration, the thread below is chock full of teachers sharing their experiences on January 7th, the day after the attack on the Capitol.
How did today go with students? 🤔— TeacherGoals (@teachergoals) January 7, 2021
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that educators and the spaces they create play an immeasurably critical role in our society. Clearly, that lesson continues in 2021, and the job is never done. Teaching about events like those of January 6th at the Capitol means that teachers are shaping our students’ view of the world; contributing to building their ability for critical analysis; modeling how to process and navigate traumatic and triggering events; and more.
Tomorrow, once again, teachers and educators will be there for kids as they try to wrap their head around this. Teachers. Educators. Are. Incredible.— Bill O'Brien (@billobrienMI) January 7, 2021
We see you. We thank you for leading the way, and for all that you do – the seen and the unseen. We’re lucky every day to work with and learn from you.
About Japneet Kaur
Japneet is a community organizer, artist, communications specialist, and Associate Marketing Manager at Education Elements. Japneet has worked with non-profits as well as grassroots organizations to head marketing, brand management, and communications. With a keen interest in serving organizations that fight for social justice and equity, Japneet has spent more than a decade collaborating with youth organizations.