"My students are so young and there are only a few that are actually aware of what's going on. I want them to become informed citizens, but certain issues are not relevant or appropriate for such young children.
Since my emotions were pretty high the morning after the election, we took some time to focus on the good we can do, starting by listing ways to show kindness and respect to others (even when you disagree with someone). The students warmed my heart with their comments, which was much needed.
In social studies, we've been studying citizenship and government, particularly how to be a good citizen. For the rest of the unit, we'll be learning more about why we have a government, the branches of government, what they do, and our role as citizens. Students need to understand that the president is not the only decision-maker in our government.
My biggest struggle is trying to figure out how to simplify complex issues and concepts to an age-appropriate level without sugar-coating anything. I don't want to teach about the government by saying, 'We need a government to help keep us safe and decide what we need most in our lives. They make laws, which keep us safe and help us work together.' That just feels like conformist BS. How can I introduce a critical eye towards the government without confusing or scaring the kids?
Another big problem I'm having . . . how can I talk about the presidency without actually referring to our current president? Do I really want to bring a discussion about Donald Trump into my classroom? I want my students to believe in the dignity, liberty, and unity that our country is supposed to stand for, regardless of whether or not our current leader represents those ideals. For now, I plan to emphasize rules and rights in our country by studying community leaders that caused positive changes or overturned unfair law.
Lastly, in science, I'm revving up my focus on protecting the environment. I often throw in mindfulness about the environment, cutting down waste, and saving energy in my teaching, but now it seems even more critical that the children care deeply about environmental issues. I want to ensure that the ones who will actually be dealing with the consequences (the kids) will be informed. I worry about them so much, which just motivates me more to give them the tools to fight the problems they will face in the future."