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School Administrators Encourage Classroom Discussions On The Violence In D.C.

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Pro-Trump insurrectionists clash with police and security forces as they storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
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With school districts starting their spring semesters, education leaders are offering guidance on how teachers can lead sensitive discussions on this week's mob siege of the U.S. Capitol.

The L.A. County Office of Education compiled and distributed a list of existing outside resources, including one from an education non-profit, Facing History and Ourselves, that was quickly updated to reference Wednesday's violence.

The guide encourages teachers to practice self-reflection and talk with their colleagues before coming to class. In the classroom, they might consider reevaluating or developing a class contact to set ground rules for conversations.

Long Beach Unified took it a step further, developing guidance specific to the district. It includes some general tips and suggestions for teachers:

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  • Make time to talk and more time to listen
  • Monitor your own emotions and pause to check your personal beliefs
  • Offer hope and affirm student safety

On Thursday, LAUSD issued a statement as well:

“...The Division of Instruction and the Office of Human Relations, Diversity and Equity have compiled resources about elections, presidential inaugurations and related civil unrest that educators can integrate into their lessons in the days and weeks ahead. These resources include lesson plans, activities and support to help teachers and administrators deal with sensitive topics and establish a classroom environment in which students are free to express their point of view.”

Brent Smiley teaches early world history and American history to middle school students at the Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies in Reseda, part of LAUSD. His students don’t start the second semester until Tuesday, but Smiley watched the news from D.C. with lesson planning in mind.

“As an American I was horrified by what I saw,” Smiley said. “As an American history teacher, I was kind of giddy.”

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Next week, Smiley’s American history class will begin a new section on the U.S. Constitution, which he plans to use as the general framework for a seminar where students ask the questions.

“None of this is outside the curriculum at all,” Smiley said, “Overall, what’s the message? That the Constitution works. In each step it was followed, until they broke into the Capitol.”

Smiley is confident that teachers are prepared to understand the needs and emotions in their classrooms.

“Sitting in every classroom is a professional teacher who knows their kids better than anyone else in the chain of command.” Smiley said. “The message to the teachers? Go teach.”

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