Earlier today, I posted the following tweet:
— Zac Chase (@MrChase) January 12, 2018
I’m struggling to come up with something that makes me feel like I’m responding to the most current rash of hurtful, ignorant, racist rhetoric coming out of the President. Following my anger is not how I choose to use my minutes. I started thinking about what I’d do if I were a principal in a school today. Whatever I come up with is imperfect. It is better, I hope, than nothing.
First, all of this is predicated on the existence of positive, non-threatening, mutually-respectful relationships with adults and children. If you’re not doing that work, then we’ll have that conversation soon.
Presupposing those relationships, I’d do the following:
- Send/post a school-wide message letting the adults in the building know I realize some of the most recent national news has been difficult to take and let them know my door is open for anyone who needs some time and space to process. I’d also ask for the same understanding for our students.
- I’d have a prioritized set of students with whom I check in. Given the last 24 hours, this would pay special attention to immigrant and migrant students – specifically those from Haiti and African nations. Checking in wouldn’t be, “So, you scared?” Instead, something along the lines of, “Hi X, I’m really happy you’re here. How are you?” Then, I’d listen – really listen. In students where these students are the majority, we still know those most vulnerable to this rhetoric. Those would be my priorities. For students with whom I had less solid relationships, I’d make sure the adults within the building with whom those students are closest have a chance to check in.
- Realizing checking in is necessary but not sufficient, I’d reach out to the head of my school’s parent and family organization and ask how I can help set up workshops for parents and families on how to help students process living in the age of Trump. To do less than this would normalize this behavior.
Our students are watching. They are listening. Our inaction and silence are statements as powerful as any other.