I woke up Wednesday morning to a new President. So did students across the country. I drove to work thinking about my students and how to approach the day. I thought about all the young people who have a lot of questions and just want to hear some honest answers. I thought about the people who were grieving the decision of our new President, and equally, those who were celebrating. I thought about my role as an educator, a champion of students, and as a believer in Jesus. Here are some ways I handled the day, the week and how I hope to handle the weeks ahead.
I aimed to create an environment that gives spaces to students but also communicated that I am present. Sometimes, people just need space to process, think, vent and sometimes grieve. As someone who influences the lives of students I try to give students space to think and reflect on their own. I helped to create space for students to feel their own feelings and think their own thoughts, free from persuasion. I communicate them that I respect them, love them and want to give them space to simply ‘be’ and that I am there when they need me.
A huge role for me this week was listening to the voices of students, educating about topics they were asking and encouraging them to stay informed. I want all students to one day be able to stand their ground with their faith and their position in our society. So, I encourage them to find their own voice and give them space to speak it. In class I gave time for students to write letters and post questions up on our class board. We spent all day talking. The entire class was engaged, they cared. There was fear, anger and confusion in that room. Most adults want to ignore their emotions because they are kids, and see them as illegitimate, but they are real emotions and they real kids, so I take them seriously. We helped to navigate those emotions and see where they came from. I helped to teach our students about our entire political system, and not just the Presidency. This honestly helped them. They saw hope in a moment they thought was hopeless. We talked about solutions, not just problems. Students sometimes have the best solutions when we give them an opportunity to speak them. They wanted to stay informed, asked for time each week to research politics, and wanted to find ways to engage the community they lived in
Students look up to me. I am amazed at the messes I make of my life and how God continues to use them to influence others. In the weeks to come I am to take action. Not just to talk about problems in my community but to find solutions. To continue to act out in faith, to question the status quo, the structures and policies that define our society. I want to act out in love. Show up for my students. Empower and encourage them to act out in love in our community. Demonstrate my love for them. For when they see my love for them it helps to show they matter to me. When the know they matter and know they are loved, they are empowered and find hope.
Whatever your political views and your thoughts we need to come together. Students are witnesses to our political and social climate in our nation. They have questions, and we should be of courage to answer them honestly.