With all of the uncertainty around the pandemic, getting students settled into the classroom—whether in-person or virtual—and ready to learn this fall was already going to be challenging. But we are also heading into what promises to be a contentious and polarizing election season, and students will need help navigating this difficult political environment.
In advance of the November elections, the Institute for Education Policy and the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins has released a new report offering best practices on how to foster respectful, productive dialogue among students.
Written by Kelly Siegel-Stechler, a research fellow with the JHU Institute for Education Policy, the report, “Election 2020: Engaging Students in Civic Discourse,” offers guidance for school teachers and administrators on how to manage political discussion and promote civil dialogue. Though this was written with in-person learning in mind, these ideas can translate to online learning environments as well.
In addition to offering a set of best practices and guidelines for managing discussion, this report also gives teachers guidance on how to think about their own biases, and for school leaders to think about the structural factors that may influence these conversations. Finally, it provides an overview of available resources that can help educators meet their goals for healthy and productive engagement with political conversations.
Though these conversations can feel uncomfortable, helping students learn these skills and become engaged citizens will benefit them—and all of us—now and for years to come.