Monday, January 11, 2021

The Reality of Living in Historic Moments

Last Thursday, my students weren't ready to talk about the takeover of the Capitol. So we got on with our day.

Truth be told, I wasn't ready either. I had too many big emotions and I wasn't sure how to keep myself objective. I didn't want to cause more harm. (Plus lots of other head-in-the-sand excuses. I won't list them all.)

But, as a trusted and valued colleague pointed out to me, I hadn't explored exactly WHY my students were reluctant to talk. So on Friday, I asked them, and between their answers and the information I've been gathering, I'm ready. 

It's my responsibility to help my students develop the skills to understand and process whatever Historic Moments come their way in the next weeks or years, and I'm ready.

Here's my plan for now:

I made time for these conversations. I found 15 minutes each day I could label "Reading the World." Now that there's a small chunk of time ready, we can take on these Big Ideas a little at a time. I don't feel pressured to do everything all at once.

Using a three-column chart, we'll explore the variety of Historic Moments in which we've been living (BLM, police brutality, the election, the take-over of the Capitol, pandemic, online learning, etc.), what makes it easier/safe to talk/think about these moments (based on their comments last Friday, a strong classroom community), and what makes it harder/scarier to talk/think about these moments (my family supports the other candidate, personal connections to the moments).

Dig into fact vs. opinion, objective vs. biased.

Look at kid-appropriate sources for current events: 
DOGO news
Time for Kids

Consider this question deeply: Why is history important? (Understanding the response of white police to white rioters vs. white police to peaceful Black protesters, understanding the implications behind the Confederate flag in the halls of the U.S. Capitol, etc.)

Think about: What can we do?

Here are a couple of helpful resources I've found:

Educator's Playbook from University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

What is your plan moving forward in discussing the reality of living in historic moments?


  1. This is so great. Thank you for sharing. What came up when I discussed with my middle schooler is how do we discuss these difficult topics. One student shared how people can’t take jokes any more and another needed to step away and get a drink of water and breathe. It made me realize how much we can learn about how to be in conversation so that’s my focus this week. We are starting book clubs and will be discussing snd we have been learning about Reconstruction and need to synthesize our thinking so we can also discuss what it means to be in conversation. Good stuff. Not easy but I’m glad to be standing with you.

  2. I’m not sure if my comment went through...this is good thinking, Mary Lee! Thanks for sharing! I am right there with you. My students brought up the idea of how to engage in conversations. They are willing to have them but one student said he feels like people can’t take jokes and another said people get defensive. It’s an opportunity to talk about conversations so that’s my focus this week. I am happy to know we’re in this together.

  3. Comment moderation is filtering out spam, and make sure you stop the site from loading so you don't lose your comment! We can't wait to hear your thoughts!

  4. Your brave dig deep with your students is inspiring. Did you show them the Spot the Difference slides? In what platform? I'm curious how your students responded.

    1. I haven't shared it yet. I will likely just project on my share computer in Google Classroom.

  5. <3<3<3 You are also writing the world.

  6. This is such a powerful, reflective piece, Mary Lee. I think I got stuck with my head-in-the-sand excuses. Thank you for reminding me that I need to dig deeper to prepare my students to "develop the skills to understand and process whatever Historic Moments come their way in the next weeks or years."

  7. Thanks for being brave and giving your students a place to share and process their feelings and these happenings—I hope more will follow your supportive example.


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