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How educators are handling this complicated, emotional day in America, in their own words

Kindergarten students at the Brooklyn School of Inquiry in 2016. Admission to the citywide gifted and talented program is based on a screening exam given at age 4.
Kindergarten students at the Brooklyn School of Inquiry in 2016. Admission to the citywide gifted and talented program is based on a screening exam given at age 4.
Christina Veiga/Chalkbeat

It’s a complicated, emotional day in America, and educators are on the front lines.

So many woke up to the news that Donald Trump is the president-elect only to rush off to school — leaving teachers and students to work through what the news means together. In many schools, that means attending to the worries of immigrant students, or young women, alarmed by Trump’s rhetoric. In others, it means guiding students to express their excitement gracefully.

Here’s a glimpse of what the day has looked like so far, from teachers and education leaders who’ve begun to share their thoughts publicly.

Readers, if you see a perspective worth sharing, or have one of your own (tweet-length or otherwise), please share with us here.

Already, the morning proved challenging for many.

I’m a teacher. I have high school students literally in tears this morning. That’s all I need to say.

— Nick Canelas (@NickCanelas) November 9, 2016

What do I say as you wait for me greet you at the classroom door that can ease your mind, to make it right? Will it help if I tell you I spent last night preparing for a special social studies lesson on the election- letters to the next president of the United States- Hillary Clinton. Should I mention, yet again, that I was adamantly “with her” in this election because I was decidedly “not with him.” I had planned for you to write to Madame President, congratulating her but also urging her to change the racist and exclusionary policies that disenfranchise, disempower, and lock up communities of color across the country. Now, I don’t know where to start.

Emmy Bouvier of Teachers Unite

Today my class of primarily black, Hispanic and female students entered school wondering “How could anyone vote for him?” So, we decided to try to understand the reasons why voters chose Donald Trump as our next president. Amongst questions of if their families would be deported, we looked up why people said they voted for Trump. My students came to the conclusion that many Trump voters are “scared of their futures just like we are.” It was a tough day to lead with a smile, but I also got to witness my students face their fears with grace, compassion and open-minds. The election has made it clear that there is much to teach this next generation, but there is much to learn from them as well.

— Kellyn Platek, fifth-grade teacher in Las Vegas, Nevada

Realizing it is my duty as a teacher to come to school today and teach my students how to lose graciously and to be accepting.

— cait carr (@Cait_Carr_) November 9, 2016

Others are consumed by bigger-picture worries about what Trump’s win will mean, or how to talk about it.

As a teacher for students with severe autism, it is difficult for me to rationalize that the leader of the free world is openly ableist

— Allie Cam (@allie_cam) November 9, 2016

And a few offered words of hope or explained their next steps.

Maybe this is why I’m a teacher. So that I can look at every one of those kids in the crosshairs of hate and say: You matter. I love you.

— Jeff Nusser (@NussCoug) November 9, 2016

I will give my English students literature – poetry and novels and plays and essays – because the way we learn about the world is by listening to other people and watching and thinking about how they act and think in situations far different from our own. When we read, we see how different we are from others, and of course, how much we are all exactly the same. We all want to be safe, to be loved, to do good in the world, to be respected, and realizing our sameness helps us to love and care for each other better. I will offer the words of the greatest writers in human history and help my students to understand them. Because I’m a teacher.

Evva Starr, teacher at Thomas S. Wootton High School in Maryland

Sending love and strength to all of you at this incredibly trying time. Honestly not sure where things go from here, but, as a start, let’s tell our children we love them and that we’ll show them what it looks like to live by a code of values when our “leaders” do not.

— Jonas Chartock, CEO of Leading Educators, charter school policy-maker

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