This has been a very challenging time for all of us. Recent events — including the killing of Daunte Wright by a police officer during the middle of the trial of Derek Chauvin — have likely caused a lot of trauma for many of our members, students, and families. Discussions regarding these events, and the outcome of the Chauvin trial, will indefinitely have a larger impact on our Black and African American colleagues, students, and families. Even a guilty verdict does not undo the trauma, erase all of the pain, or relieve us of the important work in front of us.
Right now, it may be hard for some of us to offer support as we are processing our own feelings and emotions related to these events. We encourage you to support each other and lean on each other, and to stand — or sit — with each other, as you show empathy and provide support and safe places for each other and your students to process.
Please note this is not an open invitation to require students to participate in a discussion or engage a colleague in dialogue regarding these situations, but it is an opportunity to acknowledge what is going on and let them know that if they would like to discuss, you are a safe person with whom they can do that if they choose. If you do not feel comfortable having that discussion with your students, please offer the supports to them that are available in your building. They need to know you see them. They need to know you care.
Some suggestions being provided for colleagues and students include:
- Making your classrooms, as needed, a place for students to express their opinions and talk through their feelings without fear of judgement. Listening circles are an ideal format for this.
- Making yourself available, as needed, during non-instructional time to students (individually or in groups) to listen to their concerns.
- Making room for the many different perspectives that our students and their families have around the circumstances of the deaths of Daunte Wright, George Floyd, and other Black people who have been killed by the police, including the responses of law enforcement’ and the public to the situation as a whole.
If you personally need more support as you are grieving and experiencing these events, please know that Unit 5 does offer the Employment Assistance Program. It is a partnership between Chestnut Health Services and offers free counseling services for members who want it. You can access the EAP 24/7/365 online at workhealthlife.com or by calling 1.800.433.7916.
If you need help identifying resources or tools to help you facilitate conversations in your classrooms or in your buildings, please reference the list below or reach out to a member of the Racial and Social Justice Committee* to help you develop some ideas.
- Chauvin Trial Resources from University of Buffalo
- Surviving & Resisting Hate: A Toolkit For People of Color from the Immigration, Critical Race, And Cultural Equity Lab
- Reactions you might see and how you can help in Helping Youth after Community Trauma: Tips for Educators, a guide from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Coping with Violence Across the Globe from National Association for the Education of Young Children
- Resources to Help Educators, Adults Respond to Racism, Violence and Trauma from the Minnesota Department of Education
*Unit Five Education Association’s Racial and Social Justice Committee
Claire Rybarczyk • NCWHS • Chair
Alyssa Ried • Cedar Ridge
Amanda Long • NCWHS
Cami Williams • Grove
Chasity Leddell • Glenn
Danae James • Fairview
Winnie Nuding • Chiddix
Julie Cunningham • NCWHS
Karen Walker • NCHS
Kelly Herren • NCWHS
Rebecca Pabst • PJHS
Tracy Freeman • NCWHS
Latavia Jordan • Cedar
Corey Beirne • Parkside Elementary
Nicole Learned • Pepper Ridge
Terri Peoples • Chiddix