Educators should have the ‘hard conversation’ with students about events unfolding

Penn GSE’s Sigal Ben-Porath has guidance for educators on how to address the protests across the U.S. and the world with students at this crucial time.

Teachers logging into their virtual classrooms this week have a choice: Address the protests happening across the country, or try to move along with year end lessons. 

Writing on a whiteboard reading: Check-in, what are you seeing? What are you feeling? Question of the day: What needs to change? How can we create this change? Reminders: Be there. Reach out.

Sigal Ben-Porath, a Penn GSE expert in civic education and a former high school teacher who worked in conflict areas, asks teachers not to pretend protests about institutional racism and police brutality don’t exist.

Students, especially older students, will remember this moment and how they felt. Ben-Porath says the most educative action teachers could take would be to have the hard conversation about what is happening in the United States right now.

This is true for students of any age, and especially true for students who are living in the communities at the center of protests.

Ben-Porath suggests teachers start with a check-in, and then ask two questions: What needs to change, and how do we create that change?

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