As an elementary principal, when an unspeakable event occurred, it was always my role to offer support to families and guidance for teachers on how to cope, what to say, and to repeat that, yes, it was important to talk about events – even with our youngest students – especially if they were bringing it up. Now as a retired principal, I still have that same sense of urgency to support and to extend care.
Today’s events in the capital have left us speechless, they have threatened our sense of safety, and have magnified the pain for those of us who identify as people of color. The images of the riot geared security forces for the Black Lives Matter protests stand alongside those of today’s protesters “high fiving” as they walk away, off to their hotels and cocktails.
In schools, our teachers and staff will likely need support to figure out what to say, how to act, how to make sense of things with the students in the morning. Our students will likely bring up events of today, for guidance, for processing, for shock value. Thinking about how we will extend care to ourselves, to our BIPOC students and staff, to our white students and teachers, and how we support families is critical. My role as principal is over. I won’t be calling that emergency meeting before school tomorrow to make sure that my staff feels ready to step in and have the conversations that present themselves. I won’t be the one making sure that staff feel safe, that students feel heard. And it is critical that this be done.
My good friend Tamisha Williams, an amazing equity leader, has put together some important suggestions for educators in response to the events of today. I hand over my caretaker torch to Tamisha and her colleague Lori Cohen and encourage you to consider their suggestions for how to think about your next steps tomorrow.
Above all, whether you are a student, a teacher, a parent, or a leader, remember that you are not alone. Whatever you are experiencing or feeling, whatever your need, we are in an amazing community of people who are committed to being there to support you with your questions and next steps. We at West Wind extend our care. We extend and affirm our commitment to dismantling the systems of racism that gave rise to the domestic terrorism we experienced in the capital today.
*This blog was originally posted on the Educational Equity Resources Portal.