Collect a range of current social media posts or other short messages or stories that are examples of people demonstrating or expressing solidarity with each other during this period.
Print out this collection and cut up the document so that each example is on its own slip of paper. (The format may differ depending on whether you are using Option 1 or Option 2 in the activity below.)
Begin the lesson with this mindfulness activity.
- Get comfortable in your seat.
- Sit up straight.
- Put both feet down, soles connecting to the floor. Rest your hands in your lap.
- If comfortable for you, close your eyes, or, if you prefer, find a spot on the floor in front of you to gently rest your gaze.
- Sit strong like a mountain, tall like a large tree.
- Image there's an invisible thread attached to the top of your head, gently pulling you up, stretching you out.
- Allow your shoulders to drop.
- Take a few moments to notice how your body feels.
- Check in with yourself as you bring your attention to your breath. Notice how the breath flows ... in ... and out ...
- There's no need to change how you breathe. Your body is the expert. It knows just how. It needs no guidance.
- Simply notice each breath coming into the body with the in-breath, and leaving the body with the out-breath.
- If you notice your mind is caught up in thoughts or concerns, body sensations or emotions, know that this is normal. If your attention wanders, as it will, just notice it then return the focus again to your breathing. Simply allow your thoughts to pass as you keep coming back to your breath.
- Feel your chest and stomach gently rise and fall with each breath.
- Take a few more moments to notice how your body feels.
- Keeping your eyes closed, notice the sounds around you. Feel the floor beneath you.
- Start to wiggle your toes. Shrug your shoulders.
- Bring your attention back to your surroundings.
- Open your eyes and get adjusted to the light.
- Straighten out your legs, and stretch your arms and legs gently as you come back into the room.
- Check in with yourself: What was that like?
Share with students that we've experienced a great deal of incivility and intolerance in our society, which has deepened divisions in our country. Remembering and recommitting ourselves to the values that we share will enable us to have a dialogue about what is happening and what comes next.
If your class has already shared values through a circle or by making a community agreement, review those values and agreements. (If you have not facilitated such a process in your classroom, consider doing it now.)
Decide on which values are most important for us to recommit to in this current period. What values do we need to have an inclusive dialogue in our class? What values will allow us to listen to each other and be respectful of one another?
Write the word solidarity on the wall/board and circle it. If you are using a circle format, you might also write the word on a sheet of paper and put it at the center of your circle.
Send a talking piece around or simply ask students to share what comes up for them when they hear the word solidarity. Ask students to share any word associations that come up for them. Chart their responses in a word web by writing student associations on the outside, then drawing lines from the words to the center word SOLIDARITY, thus creating a web.
When students are done sharing, ask them to look at the web and reflect on the associations.
- What do they notice about the words in the web?
- Are there similarities, differences, surprises?
- Anything else they'd like to say about the words represented?
Next, invite students to come up with a definition for the word solidarity. Work with them towards a definition that includes some of the following from dictionary.com:
Quotes on Solidarity
To deepen students' understanding of solidarity further, put the three quotes below in the center piece or post them on the board for students to read.
Ask students what comes up for them as they read these quotes. Can they connect it to what they've shared so far today?
"Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Walk beside me and be my friend." - Albert Camus, Algerian philosopher, author, and journalist based in France
"If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." - Lilla Watson, Murri (Indigenous Australian) visual artist, activist and academic
"Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people."
- Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist
Go round: Send a talking piece around asking students: How do you connect what we shared so far with recent events?
Go round: If student sharing is substantive and time allows, send the talking piece around again, asking students to share connections, reflections, and additional comments on what has been shared so far.
Acts of Solidarity
Invite students in small groups to read and discuss ways that people are expressing their solidarity around the country using the examples you have found.
You can structure this conversation in one of two ways.
Option 1: Stand Under Activity
Post your social media messages/stories around the room for students to take in. Invite students to stand by the message/story that most speaks to them. Then invite students in self-selected groups to read the text and then discuss:
- What are your thoughts and feelings about what you just read?
- How do you think the (different) people that you read about are feeling?
- How did they respond? What were their objectives?
- What do you think the actions described in this text achieved? For whom? How?
- What do you know about these actions/statements? What does that tell you?
- Where could these actions/statements go from here? Where should they go, according to the people in the text? According to you?
Option 2: Small Group Activity
Divide your class into five groups and provide each group with a different social media message or story.
Invite students in their small groups to discuss the text using the questions above.
After students have finished their small group discussion (in either format), reconvene the students and ask them to share high points from their discussion, using the earlier questions as needed.
Next, engage students in a discussion about what kinds of acts of solidarity would be most helpful in your community going forward.
Closing Ceremony: Connections
Tell students that for our closing today, we'll do an activity called "connections."
Explain that "connections" is a time to offer reflections or feelings about the work we've done together today. It's an opportunity to share briefly what's on your mind or in your heart—if you feel so moved.
"Connections" comes from the Quaker tradition; it's a practice in which people speak if they feel moved to speak. It's not a discussion or go-round. If there is silence, that's fine. Enjoy the silence as a time for reflection.
Set your timer for three or four minutes and let the sharing unfold. When the timer goes off, it's over. There's no follow-up discussion.