On election day this year, a classroom teacher and I took a moment to close our CoTA binders and simply inhale, exhale. She wore an “I Voted” sticker and an expression of anxiety that I’m sure was mirrored on my face.
All political opinions aside, it’s impossible to deny that the future of our country feels uncertain right now. This is no less the case for those of us who work in schools. Conversely, because public schooling is so often politicized and subject to governmental jurisdiction, the uncertainty grows all the greater. Much of this is out of our hands.
Some spaces are in our hands. We have a responsibility to be inclusive, compassionate and understanding in our classrooms. We have a responsibility to make sure our students come to school and feel safe in their desks, but also that they are aware that safety may not be guaranteed in other parts of the world. In addition to teaching math and science and ELA and arts integration, teachers in the modern world are also partly responsible for teaching children to be good people. This is no easy thing, but like everyone else, we must be tenacious and forge our way forward.
There are signs of progress everywhere, but nowhere do you see it more than in the young people of the world. Children here see each other as people first and anything else second, and I know many adults who could benefit from a conversation with kids. Any child can tell you not to be a bully. Any child can tell you that you’re supposed to treat others how you would like to be treated.
The same teacher who breathed with me told me the following week that it was hard to obsess over fears of the future with a room full of kids to juggle in front of you. Students are sometimes the best medicine, and sometimes we have to be that for them too.