Dear TFA Nashville-Chattanooga Alumni,
I write to you at an extraordinary moment in the course of our nation’s history. While we do not yet know the outcome of the presidential election, we know that so much hangs in the balance, especially for our students and families we seek to serve each day.
Whatever the election outcome, I’m sitting with two driving thoughts this morning: the first is that we are presently a deeply and often bitterly divided nation. As Jon Meacham reflected this morning, diversity of opinions can be the heartbeat of a strong democracy, but I fear the chasm opening up is vast, and that brings me great pause. The second thought is that our theory of change and our work at TFA to build a broad and diverse coalition has never been more important. It is our sacred, singular contribution to helping America heal, summon resilience amidst the fray, and work with our students and our network to create a more equitable and compassionate world.
As the votes continue to be counted and we await final election results, I wanted to reach out first and foremost to thank you for the work you’re doing on behalf of your students each and every day. Your commitment keeps me hopeful for the future and inspired to fight hard every day for our kids. I also want to thank those of you who made a plan to vote, joining record numbers of Americans in participating in this year’s election. As we grapple with health, economic, and racial crises, exercising your right to participate in the democratic process has never been more important.
We know how stressful it is to wait for the results of this deeply consequential national election – and we’re all on edge about how our communities will respond to the uncertainty. It's a moment where the fundamental nature of our democracy is being tested. But if anything is clear after the last six months, it’s that we are best prepared to tackle any challenge when we stand together, support each other, and keep our eye on the future of our students.
The presidential election wasn’t the only item on the ballot this week. Up and down the ticket, especially in local elections, the outcomes will have an enormous impact on the quality of our schools, determining everything from a school’s curriculum to its allocation of limited resources. And as we move forward into the next year, TFA has a critical role to continue to advocate for our students, our teachers, and our education system at every level.
There is hard work ahead – and none of it will be successful if we’re not also taking care of ourselves and each other. Personal wellness is always important, but maintaining health and resiliency during these trying times is even more critical. Know that the TFA community is a supportive shoulder to lean on as we face this challenging year together.
With this in mind, we will host an open space for our TFA community on Thursday, November 5th to process, reflect, and/or share resources and opportunities for classroom or community engagement. Learn more and register at the link above.
Additionally, our students are sure to have a wide range of questions about what’s happening in this election and what it means in their lives. These are critically important conversations to have and those of us who work directly with students have an especially important role to play in helping students process and understand this news. By having civic discussions with our students, we can begin to alleviate their fear of the unknown while also helping them understand that their voice matters. Here are a few resources worth considering if you are preparing for these types of discussions with students:
Our TFA National Teacher Development Team, in collaboration with our regional team, collected and put together several resources, tools, and opportunities to support our students and community following the election.
This Day After Election Guide from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities is designed to help educators prepare for these discussions in the classroom.
iCivics has a number of lesson plans, infographics, and games to help educate students in its Election Headquarters.
Scholastic’s Elections Collection includes a number of resources to help teach students about the importance of democracy.
Study the history and process of presidential elections, explore voting rights, and engage in classroom discussions with the PBS Election Collection.
The New York Times has curated a selection of writing prompts, challenges, and lesson plans for teachers in its Teach and Learn with the 2020 Election.
PBS Education: Teaching About Elections During an Election Year
Education Week: Is the Election Still a Teachable Moment?.
From Provocative to Productive: This resource packet from NewseumED features suggestions for leading tricky conversations about politics and other controversial subjects with students.
Finally, as we continue to gather and share local and national resources to support you, we want to hear what you would like to see, or what you may like to offer to your network. Please share your thoughts on how TFA can support or share opportunities here.
As always, we will continue collectively advocating for our students and pushing for greater access to excellent and equitable education for all. Regardless of how the elections fall, there is much work to be done.
Teach For America | Nashville-Chattanooga