How to Support Students in these Difficult Times

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The world woke up on November 9 to the news that Donald Trump is America’s next president.

This is a nightmare to everyone who has been insulted and assaulted by Trump and his supporters. It’s a nightmare to Black people, Muslims, LGBTQI communities, women of colour, immigrants, Mexicans, and many marginalized groups who have been wronged and will continue to be wronged so long as he’s in power.

I received many emails and messages from teachers asking how they should help their marginalized student population. Many educators are grieving. This is not to say that Clinton was the perfect candidate, in fact, she was far from perfect. Clinton has played a huge role in what’s currently going on in the Middle East and North Africa. However, Trump is a bigot, a racist, a xenophobic, a misogynist, and he isn’t trying to hide any of it. In fact, he’s encouraging it.

This is already creating an unsafe learning environment for many students. Here are some of the incidents that have occurred so far, only one day after the elections.

This is all heartbreaking tragic. So what can educators do?

  • Create a Safe Space:

This can mean that you just breathe. You don’t need to talk, or say anything. Just breathe and be there with your students. Wait for them to say something. And silence is okay.

  • Put Thoughts into Words:

Ask them to take out a pen and paper and write. Write anything. Write how they feel. Write what they want to do. Write what they don’t want to do. Valencia Clay writes a great blog post about providing these prompts for students:

“I am angry about….”

“I am disgusted with…”

“I am confused as to why…”

“I don’t know what to say about…”

“I blame…”

Help them get those thoughts on paper. It’s going to feel good and provide a sense of relief.

  • Share Words and Feelings Out Loud:

You go first. This will create a safe space for students to share their feelings and thoughts. Open up the floor to students and see what they’re willing to share. Some may read their writing out loud. Others may just need to listen. And some will share what they think.

Be there for them.

  • Tell Them they Matter:

Make sure to let them know. When you’re a person of colour, or a marginalized community member, it’s easy to think that you don’t matter as much as your white peers do. Tell them that they do matter. That you love and care for them and that you’re there for them.

I’ve compiled a few resources/lesson plans to use to deal with the current situation. Please feel free to add any other resources that you think may be helpful, in the comments.

Teaching Tolerance, The Day After.

Racism, Xenophobia, and the Election

The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on Our Nation’s Schools

Schoolchildren “have a lot of questions and a lot of fear” in aftermath of Trump victory

2 thoughts on “How to Support Students in these Difficult Times

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