You may or may not choose to engage students in conversation about the election results, but the resources below may help you prepare for these discussions if they come up in class.

First, notice your own responses and emotions around the election, and recognize that you and your students may not be able to show up as your best selves for these conversations. One approach to this might be transparency with your students, acknowledging how challenging this time is and giving everyone space to process what is happening before moving forward with a conversation.

Talking About the Election

If you do choose to engage students on this topic, it will be important to acknowledge the range of perspectives and intense emotions that are likely present in your classroom. Guidelines on discussing difficult topics may be helpful for framing a conversation where students with diverse experiences and points of view can engage productively with one another.

Helpful Tips

Establish community agreements before discussing difficult topics.

Encourage your students to help create these collaboratively. They might include one or more of the following agreements:

  • addressing ideas rather than people
  • taking and making space to ensure everyone has a chance to speak
  • entering the conversation with a spirit of curiosity and good will
  • welcoming correction and reflection

Identify a clear purpose for the conversation.

Is the class interested in exploring a question, better understanding the context of the election, reflecting on the impact of current events, or something else? There is no right answer here, but it is helpful for students to agree on a focus and purpose before diving into the complexities of a topic like this one.

Provide space to summarize the discussion.

Provide space to summarize the discussion, provide student feedback, and allow students to reflect on their feelings and experiences. This might look like a brief exit email or poll, a word in the Zoom chat, or a Google Doc with reflection notes.

Consider incorporating the election into your course.

If you’d like to incorporate the election into your course, explore the ways this monumental event relates to your discipline and your students’ lives. For ideas, see this teaching resource created by Facing History and Ourselves.

Further Resources

Acknowledging the Election

If you do not choose to address the topic of the election substantively but still want to acknowledge it, you can:

  • Begin by recognizing that it has been a long week, everyone is likely very tired, different people have strong emotions from a variety of perspectives, and it may be hard to focus.
  • Give your students a chance to write for a minute or two to process their thoughts and feelings, and/or identify people they want to reach out to for the types of connections and processing that would be beneficial to them. Then move on to your plan for the day.
  • Note the difficulty of focusing and of controlling strong emotions and let students know they can feel free to take a brief break to refocus.

If a student raises the election as a topic when you had not planned to discuss it, community agreements might provide guidance to have a productive and respectful conversation.  If you do not feel prepared for a conversation, you can recognize that the student might want to have the conversation, but explain that you want to think further about whether and how to engage it as a class.

Resources for Students

If you want to give resources directly to students, the following PSU resource offices may be useful to them:

This article was last updated on Nov 12, 2020 @ 3:50 pm.

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