Moving Forward: Teaching After the Election

On election night, anxious but hopeful, I gathered in a small apartment with some Ed School friends to watch the election results stream in. Like much of the country, I was shocked at Donald Trump’s unexpected but decisive victory in the electoral college.

Late in the night, as the election results were becoming increasingly clear and friends were heading home one by one, I received a text from a good friend. He encouraged me to get some rest, adding: “The world needs good teachers.”

Those words were still stuck in my head when, on less than four hours of sleep, I woke at 5:15 AM the next morning to head to my practicum at a local middle school (as part of the Teacher Education Program, I am student-teaching in a sixth grade classroom this year). The day after the election, my 11 and 12-year-old students were unusually quiet and subdued. The students I teach are primarily immigrants and students of color. Many expressed distress over the election results and very real fears of racial violence or family members being deported. It was a rough, sobering day to be a teacher, one that made me realize just how hard – and important – teaching can be. That day at school, my mentor teacher and I did our best to give students the room to process their emotions and concerns and to reassure students that no matter what, they will always find a safe and supportive space in our classroom.

But the work doesn’t stop there. I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of weeks processing what Donald Trump’s presidency and the current political climate might mean for my students – for their rights, for the protection of their families, and for their future opportunities. I have many, many questions and not a whole lot of answers, but I do know this much: in a climate of great uncertainty and heightened bigotry, I have never felt stronger about my decision to teach.

At HGSE, the Teacher Education Program focuses on preparing teachers to work in urban public school classrooms. While I remain committed to urban education, I am reminded that the world needs good teachers everywhere. We need good teachers in rural areas to teach students about difference and empathy. We need good teachers in elite private schools to teach students about privilege. And we need good teachers everywhere to help students develop the compassion, resilience, and critical thinking skills they will need to engage with the world.

I know I still have a lot to learn here at HGSE and in my own practice as an educator, but I have never felt more committed to this work.

Sarah Mintz is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Teacher Education Program, pursuing licensure as a middle school English teacher. She comes to HGSE from Washington, D.C., where she worked at an independent school and a non-profit serving incarcerated youth. Outside of education, she loves to spend her time cooking and exploring the city with friends