How do you teach empathy, problem solving, and emotion management to your students? The best way is to help students to struggle with real and complex problems that the world faces every day.
Having conversations on topics like racism, genocide, school shootings, and other violence is challenging. However, discussing these issues brings understanding.
- Prepare yourself academically and emotionally
Teaching without the right tools can be detrimental to students’ understanding. You need to become a student once again. Learn things from reliable and trusted sources. Discuss things with subject-matter experts, and read as many texts as possible.
After mastering the content, look for alternative materials such as movies, poetry, and testimonies. You also need to emotionally prepare yourself for teaching.
- Device a support system
A professional learning community is a boost to teaching about difficult topics. It is critical to have a group of people with whom we can discuss ideas, brainstorm, and learn new things. This builds effective pedagogy and teaching rationale.
Teachers should be trained to answer inevitable questions from students. It is impossible to predict some things. However, we can explore what might come up and help educators exchange and consider answers in a safe environment.
- Safe Space
A teacher once said: “To effectively teach genocide, one must stoke the flames of students’ curiosity and then control the blaze.”
Similar to how teachers need to prepare for teaching difficult topics, students need time to think upon and digest it. When we challenge students’ understanding of humanity, we lead them to experience complete emotions.
Engage students in critical memory questions. You should have no fear in bringing up conversations on how tragic events in the past affect current events. Allow students to connect themselves with what they learn.
- Follow a culturally responsive pedagogy
To follow culturally responsive pedagogy, you should be aware of your students and their unique viewpoints. In this way you will be framing material that would be most relevant for your students.
Ask questions from your students and listen to their answers. Explore community resources and invite different opinions to the classroom. When teachers take interest in student’s lives and experiences, students Research says that meaningful rapports with students help create successful and engaged learners.
- Bring students “safely in and safely out”
Providing leadership and guiding students “safely in and safely out” of difficult subject matter creates a supportive and sacred space. Teachers should step into a topic gradually.
For providing a safe study of complex topics, you should not just focus on despair and loss but also on hope and humanity. Highlight those stores of bravery that brought light in the time of darkness. Students should feel a sense of agency to come out of the study.
It never was and never will be easy to teach students on these topics but with a little preparation and inspiration any teacher can do flawlessly. Keep these tips in mind when you teach such subjects.