To the Teacher
On Election Day 2020, and likely throughout this week, our students will show up with a spectrum of emotions. As educators, we can help our students address this historical moment by taking a pause to reset, reflect, and practice self-care with our students.
Consider providing short opportunities for students to engage in self-care practices throughout this day, and the week. Give students a chance to check in with themselves and process their feelings.
In this lesson, students will first review the news about this historic presidential election and discuss its impact our country. Then they will explore the power of the younger generation to transform and reimagine our country.
Begin by checking the agenda.
Revisit your class’s community agreements to help set the tone for the day.
Gathering: Gratitude Journaling
Invite students to write down 3 to 5 things that they are grateful for. This might be anything from a caring friend to a favorite food to a place in nature they love.
Share with students that “gratitude practice” – regularly remembering all that we are thankful for - has been shown to have a multitude of benefits. It can allow us to focus on the present and turn away from negative emotions we may be feeling. It can also encourage empathy.
Ask a couple of students to share out.
What is Happening?
Now we will take a look at some of what is happening in the news. Share some or all of the bullet points below with your students.
- On the morning of Election Day 2020, there are people long lines of people waiting to vote throughout the country. As there have been throughout the early voting, people have waited up to 10 hours to cast a vote.
- Enthusiasm has contributed to high voter turnout this year, as least so far. Early voting (before Election Day) reached historic levels this year, due in part to new early voting rules put into place in many states because of the Covid pandemic. By the eve of Election Day, nearly 100 million ballots had already been cast.
- Young voters (18 to 29 year olds) have historically had a low turnout rate. But in this election, more young people have showed up to vote: They have already cast more than 7 million votes, and the numbers are rising.
- A federal judge in Houston on Monday (November 2) rejected Republican efforts to invalidate more than 127,000 votes that were cast at drive-through locations in Harris County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city.
- There have been many battles between Republicans and Democrats over who should vote early and how, sparking hundreds of lawsuits, and prompting accusations of voter suppression throughout the country. Voters of color have been especially affected by these efforts.
- Plywood is going up to cover shop windows in downtown areas of Washington, DC, and other cities around the country, amid fears that the passions being stirred up by the campaign could lead to unrest or even violence.
- The critical question on the morning of the election is, how many people will show up on Election Day to vote, and who will they vote be voting for?
- What is one piece of news that especially strikes you today? Why?
- What is one feeling you have about the news today?
Small and Large Group Sharing
Now we are going to look at the patterns of how young people turn out for elections.
Share with students that historically, about 55 percent of the voting age population vote in presidential elections (which take place every four years). Historically, young voters, age 18-29, have had a low turnout, averaging just 37 percent. During this election, and notably during early voting, young voter turnout has risen. Young voters represent an immense voting power. Combined, they are the largest and most diverse voting bloc.
Break students into small groups, and invite them to each take a turn responding to the following prompts:
- What explains the fact that young people historically have a low turnout rate for voting?
- What will it take for young people to come out and vote?
- If you were at an age that you could vote, what would inspire you to vote?
Reconvene the full group and ask students to share out some of their responses.
If there is time, delve deeper into understanding more about what inspires young people to vote by watching the 8-minute video The Most Diverse Generation Votes in 2020 (from VICE / Levi's the 2020 Project): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teNfeA61zrs
- What stood out you about this video?
- How are these young people making a difference in the world around them, and what inspires them to take action?
- What would be the impact if young voters’ would turnout to vote a higher rate? How would it shift our county?
Self-Care Plan for Election Day/Week
To prepare for the spectrum of emotions that will arise on Election Day/week, invite students to build a personal self-care plan for this week and beyond.
Ask students if any of these strategies resonate with them. (Thanks to @therapyforblackgirls for these ideas.)
- Prepare a list of things to listen to that will soothe you.
- Know who you can talk to for support.
- Keep a journal and a pen close to write down your thoughts and feelings.
- Prepare a list of things to watch that will provide comfort.
- Gather things you can taste and feel to take care of yourself this week
- Plan a day coming up soon (perhaps the weekend) that will not be focused on productivity, but rather on your needs
Give them time to write down their plans for taking care of themselves over the next week.
Invite students to take four deep breaths, in .... and out.
Ask them to share one thing they will do for themselves today.
Early Young Voter Turnout Is at a Historical High, and It’s Already Changing the Game in the 2020 Election https://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/a34522375/young-voter-turnout-2020-election/
Why Don’t Young people Vote, and What Can You Do About it: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/08/upshot/youth-voting-2020-election.html
U.S trails most developing countries in voter turnout: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/05/21/u-s-voter-turnout-trails-most-developed-countries/
2020 Election Live Update: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/11/02/us/trump-vs-biden
2020 Election Live Update: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/11/02/us/trump-vs-biden#a-record-early-vote-last-minute-lawsuits-and-sheets-of-plywood-mark-the-end-of-a-campaign-transformed-by-the-pandemic
New York Times Your Election Guide: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/02/briefing/election-day-johnny-depp-anthony-fauci.html
@soyouwanttotalkabout (de-stressing techniques)
@therapyforblackgirls (self care plan for election day)