Turning DC into a Teachable Moment

January 7, 2021

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Dear FPS Families,

Following yesterday’s event and last night’s email from Dr. Tremblay, we’ve been discussing how best to share resources and support to our families, in addition to our staff and teachers. We know that many people are feeling confusion, fear and anger. We stand ready to support community members who may need to talk and process these events. The Health and Wellness Department and the Office of Equity are committed to sharing resources and guidance as we continue to navigate unprecedented events.


Beyond the guidance and resources below, if you or your family have any questions, please reach out to Joseph Corazzini, Assistant Superintendent of Equity, Diversity & Community Development.


Joseph Corazzini: jcorazzini@framingham.k12.ma.us or 508-328-6798

Things You Can Do At Home

  • Take care of yourself: As you work to take care of your families, it’s important to remember to take time for self-care. Ideas include practicing mindfulness, engaging in physical activity, or reaching out to a friend or family member to talk. If you need additional support reach out to the Office of Equity. For students in middle and high school, we encourage you to seek out affinity spaces.


  • Support and encourage age-appropriate conversations: Do what you feel is best for your family, but please keep in mind kids are perceptive - some have seen / heard the news or may hear about yesterday’s events in school or other social conversations.

    • If you aren’t the one sharing the news with them, you can look to find out what they know and/or ask them what they heard as a means to start the conversation.

    • You can remind your children that they may hear different opinions or viewpoints. In our schools, we are reiterating that we value each other as human beings and as members of our learning community. There is no place for hate speech in our community.

    • Sample discussion prompts for conversations:

      • What thoughts or feelings are coming up for you today?

      • What was your experience of recent events? Did they come up in school today? How did your classmates and teacher(s) engage with the news?

      • How are your friends doing with all of this?

      • What questions do you have about what will happen next?

    • Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Educators Infographic


  • Supporting the emotional needs of your child(ren). We can all benefit from different coping strategies when we feel anxious, overwhelmed, or scared. They can:

    • Talk to a trusted adult

    • Journal, write, or draw; express their feelings creatively

    • Practice grounding exercises, breathing, mindfulness

    • Get outside & go for a mindful walk

Things We Can Do In Class

Supporting Our Students Through Community Conversations Framework: We are encouraging conversation using the following steps:
  1. Set Purpose: The purpose of a community conversation is to provide a safe and inclusive space to process, connect, share, and listen. It’s not to pass judgement or debate.
  2. State Facts: Share facts about what occurred. Be sure to choose language carefully.

  3. Set Norms: Share process for speaking (raising zoom hand, using the chat, etc.)

  4. Share Sentence Stems: I am feeling… I am thinking about… I am wondering…

  5. Close The Meeting: Take a mindful moment. Allow students to reflect on their thoughts (through writing or quiet processing). Assure students that we will be ok. Choose a powerful quote to end the meeting.


Supporting Age-Appropriate Challenging Conversations in the Classroom


  • We recognize that Preschool - Grade 2 students will need different supports than older children who may want to engage in more in-depth facilitated discussions. For younger children, waiting until children bring up the topic is best practice. Staff have been reminded that they don’t need to initiate or lead a conversation immediately.
  • Most important for all ages is that we:
  1. Greet students as we usually would and create the same welcoming atmosphere and sense of safety that we provide each day.
  2. Be proactive in reviewing classroom agreements about kindness, communication, and relationships.
  3. Be proactive in our curriculum stance. We want students to understand that protest is a positive action. We’ve provided resources to staff that can support classroom discussions of this topic.


If/When the topic of recent events does arise, we will:
      • Look to find out what children know. Ask them what they heard

      • Stick to the facts and try to use neutral language for example

        • “People were angry.”

      • Offer sentence starters/prompts during conversations such as: I am feeling… I am wondering… I am thinking about…

      • Review classroom expectations around having respectful conversations, emphasizing communication norms prior to having an intentional conversation.

      • For older students:

        • At our school, we accept and value all students. All students are safe in our community.

        • We may have different opinions or viewpoints, but we value each other as human beings and as members of our learning community.

        • We speak and listen with respect.

        • There is no place for hate speech in our community.

      • It may be helpful to validate the following for students:

        • “This has been a really hard situation, and this has brought up a lot of strong feelings for people.” Students may be hearing strong emotions from family members or friends, which may be confusing or overwhelming.

        • It's possible that we may not know how long this situation will go on, which adds more uncertainty into an already uncertain time.

      • Sample discussion prompts for meetings with students:

        • What thoughts or feelings are coming up for you today?

        • What was your experience of recent events? How does your family engage with the news?

        • What questions do you have about what will happen next?

If you or someone you know is struggling with the political unrest - please refer to student support staff at your child’s school: Health and Wellness Staff Directory.


We hope this is helpful as a start. We will continue to follow events and will share additional resources as they are available.


Sincerely,

Framingham Public Schools

Framingham Public Schools

The mission of the Framingham Public Schools is to educate each student to learn and live productively as a critically-thinking, responsible citizen in a multicultural, democratic society by providing academically challenging instructional programs taught by highly-qualified staff and supported by comprehensive services in partnership with our entire community. For news, updates, and announcements, follow Framingham Public Schools (@FraminghamPS) on Facebook, Twitter, and (@framinghamschools) on Instagram. You can also join the conversation using #FraminghamSchools.