With the discussions and conspiracy theories about the recent election, being an educator is harder than ever. As an educator, I need to separate my own political views from reliable facts, if there are any. I must admit that in the past I have not paid as close attention to the outcome of the past elections as much as I have this year. Not just because of the two candidates who were running but how the people became divided among themselves because of the two presidential candidates. Since I began teaching, I have participated in and witnessed five presidential elections and each one had a different, yet unexpected outcome, for the most part.
In just a short year, my teaching encompasses more than just the curriculum; I teach skills that are needed not only in school but in their lives. I take advantage each year when the elections take place to teach the different perspectives on history and the important issues at hand. This year’s election was quite different from the previous years, as there were two sides dividing the country: blue and red. As an educator, my political views have to be kept separate from teaching. The November 3 election was thought to be a sure win for one candidate over the other. However, weeks later President Trump has not yet conceded making it difficult for many to believe Biden is the president-elect as the electoral college has not yet made it official.
Teaching in a high school setting, many students are unaware of the issues of the presidential candidates. In discussions, they are only aware of what they hear on television, see on social media, or believe from others. As disappointing as it is, their perspective is majority one-sided. There is a tremendous amount of propaganda and mudslinging not only by the candidates but also by the people.
The Wednesday after the election it was somber with my students as several states did not have a winner; Because of this, I did not want to start the conversations about the election as there was still too much that was unknown. Instead, the assignment for my seniors was to continue with narrative writing and focus on a current event that they would like to reflect upon. Reading one of my student’s blogs, he focused on the current election stating, “In the history of the United States we have never seen events like those of today…” Just reading these words I think back to his perspective knowing that this was his first election that he was able to vote. The student continued to write, “...where we see businesses boarding up their windows to prepare for the possibility of civil unrest following the election results.” Just this one sentence struck me not only with curiosity but with a sense of pride. The student did not side with one candidate over another, instead, he focused on the people. This made me think about the students and the confusion they may have regarding the election.
Today I took advantage of World Kindness Day to discuss spreading kindness in a world of uncertainty and distrust. We discussed how the people are divided among two candidates (similar to a game of Red Rover) and how we can hope that one kind gesture would multiply no matter the outcome of the election. By far, our discussion is not yet over as the election results continue to be unknown.
What I fear the most is not who becomes the president-elect, but those who teach our children to run as fast as they can to one side to break the other teams hold and, if successful, pick a person to bring back to their team.
In the upcoming weeks, as we will find out who will be the president-elect, we will count to three and think clearly about the electoral process. As a teacher of English, analyzing data, taking several perspectives into account, and researching facts is of the utmost importance in my teaching. And all I can hope for is an undivided nation so that when the results are final, we can come together as one nation.
Kristen Koppers is a National Board Certified Teacher. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Western Michigan University, a Master of Arts in English, and a Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Governors State University. She is a high school public education English teacher and an adjunct professor at a local junior college. Her books include Differentiated Instruction in the Teaching Profession (2019) and a children’s book, The Perfect Puppy (2020) by Edumatch Publishing. You can follow her on Twitter at @Mrs_Koppers.