Acknowledging Current Events in Class

Robert Britten

Based on an email written by Robert Britten, LWTech Executive Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Even if the class doesn’t seem “related,” talking to students doesn’t have to take a lot of time and shows students that:

  1. you care about things beyond the classroom;
  2. builds trust; and
  3. that you acknowledge the world students live in. 

I wanted to give you some tips from the Institute for Anti-racist Education that were posted on Facebook yesterday. While I would sometimes not use the same language they do, I think they break down the nuts and bolts on how to talk to students at any level about current events. I have also included a sample response (that I tried to make sound as neutral as possible) that would take about 3-5 minutes to read at the beginning of class and assumes that instructors don’t want to start a conversation and have class things they need to do today. That being said, if you have the time, confidence, and emotional capacity to devote class time to have a discussion this week, please do. 

5 Tips for Your Classroom

From the Institute for Anti-racist Education, based on January 6, 2021 Instagram Live with CEO Ashley Y. Lipscomb and Anti-racist educator Emily Schorr Lesnick; bold reflects the authors’ emphasis 

  1. Remember that while you certainly must address the events, you do not have to teach about events that you are still processing. 
  2. Focus on equipping your students with the tools to process and care for themselves during this and the inevitable future events.
  3.  Remember to care for yourself. There is no savior when it comes to ending white supremacy. Liberation and equity will require sustained energy, learning, and unlearning. Take care of yourself.

What this can look like—please edit and revise for your own use: 

  1. This was the not the class we were expecting and we have important topics to cover today, but I wanted to take a few minutes to acknowledge today’s events.
  2. I personally found the news difficult to process and am not ready to talk about this at length. I suggest if you are having a lot of feelings about what happened yesterday, that you consider writing them down or talking with a friend or trusted family member. Also, stress is known to sit in your body, so movement of any kind (stretching, taking a walk, doing 10 pushups or jumping jacks) can help your body feel more settled. It is inevitable that other stressful events will happen during your lifetime—it is useful to develop good coping strategies to help with stress in general. 
  3. It is very important this week that you do all the things that are good for your body and mind: eat as healthily as you can, rest, move, and drink enough water. These are things I’m going to focus on as well. I appreciate your attention, and now let’s switch gears to our regular lesson today.


SBCTC Instruction Commission First Winter Business Meeting, January 27, 2021


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Diversity and Social Justice – Faculty Guide (2022 Edition) Copyright © 2021 by Robert Britten is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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