For Election Day, we are referring our readers to three excellent pieces; one each for schools, higher ed, and the workplace. School, campus, and workplace leaders are tasked with responding to growing fears and anxiety during this uncertain time. Regardless of the outcome of the election, the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion are key to addressing these concerns with respect and understanding.
In 2016, many schools were unprepared to discuss the election results with students. Here are a few suggestions for how to prepare this time around:
- Reiterate classroom values of respect and inclusion. If you have a classroom contract or similar norms in place, review those with your class. This includes articulating that you value each student’s learning and affirm their lived experience.
- Take some time to check in with yourself, take care of yourself, and reflect on your own opinions and feelings around the election. Self-care is especially important for BIPOC educators.
- Reject notions that politics be left at the school door. As Cory Collins of Teaching Tolerance writes, “This is untrue—and poor pedagogy.” It will be more helpful to prepare for a less productive week at school, and to make a point to model inclusive, respectful interactions.
- As we saw in 2016, students may respond to the election by saying or doing hateful things at school. Be prepared to address this constructively, and to support students who show signs of distress or disengagement.
The presidential election is likely to elicit some differing opinions and negative emotions. Here are some ways for faculty to support students during the election:
- If you choose to engage in conversations about the election with students, listen to students “without seeking to devalue, dispute or distract them from their actual experiences.”
- Identify what sort of support students need. If students are asking about how they might discuss the election with others, share resources on how to engage in civil discourse and self-reflection. However, students who are sharing their fears regarding the election will not benefit from a lecture on civil discourse.
- Encourage students to stay engaged beyond the presidential election. Remind students “they have the power to change their minds, their directions and their world.”
- Make sure students know that their institution will support them during and following the results of the presidential election.
- If you are unable to engage in conversations about the election with students, point them towards other community members who can better support them.
- Work on better understanding students and their needs during this time by reading up on how to engage with students following the presidential election.
In the Workplace
In the days leading up to and following the election, the workplace may become heated and difficult to navigate. In preparation, leaders can keep some best practices in mind:
- Acknowledge that this is an anxious time for everyone, and ensure this acknowledgment is reiterated by leadership.
- Don’t attempt to ignore the election and the impact it’s having on everyone at work. Doing so will only make the issue harder to manage when it inevitably shows up in the workplace.
- Remind people to speak from their own experience rather than speaking for others or for an entire group.
- Remember that people are more willing to discuss difficult topics if they feel heard and respected.
Finally, connect your efforts to foster respect, empathy, and understanding during the election with your existing inclusion efforts. The tenets of an inclusive workplace set the stage for effective communication around difficult topics.