K-12 students need to be processing and dissecting what is and has been happening in our nation. The protests that have happened following George Floyd’s brutal murder by the hands of the Minneapolis policeman is a current event, but one that is the tipping of the iceberg. Our students not only need to understand and process the protests happening across the nation but they also need to understand the background, or what I refer to as the bulk of the iceberg.
Some teachers and counselors might not think they have the right words to say or the appropriate training to facilitate these conversations. I disagree! Every teacher and counselor has training on how to educate. Every teacher and counselor also has a built in audience and therefore a platform. As are result, it is our duty and our obligation to be having conversations about race, discrimination, justice, and pain with our students.
On the Monday following the start of the protests, I sent out an email to all staff members with information on best practices for facilitating discussions when harm is taking place. In our building, we traditionally use the restorative circle. Therefore, I resent all of the resources about using restorative meetings. Teachers appreciated having guidance on the how to host discussions about George Floyds murder and the protests that followed.Restorative Conference Questions (22 downloads)
In this email, I also offered to teach or co-facilitate a lesson for students about the current protests and the history that has led up to it and then guide students in a discussion. I created a powerpoint to share screen so that students could have a visual while we taught about the current protests, what black lives matter means, a brief historical context of the racism and discrimination that black people have suffered, and to help student debrief their thoughts and emotions. I have shared that with you below. Just make a copy and add it to your google drive.
While facilitating conversations about George Floyds murder and the experience or black people with police brutality over the past few days, I have noticed some common themes. There is a lot of mis information about what has previously transpired and what is currently going on with the protests. So I need to teach and reteach the facts. There is also a strong feeling of hopelessness and anger that police brutality toward black people continues to happen and that things will not change. The third major theme has been worry.
It has made me realize that while giving students facts and giving them the space to share their feelings I also need to equip them with the tools to take action. So this week I am going to focus on sharing with them the stories of role models in their community who are standing up, fighting, and making a difference. I will post this powerpoint after I have taught it.