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Teaching During and After the 2020 US Elections: Resources for Faculty and Students

The 2020 US Elections can be stressful for both instructors and students, thereby impacting the learning environment in your courses. These stressors are compounded by the ongoing pandemic. Regardless of the outcome of the elections, instructors can take steps to ensure that both they and their students are supported during this time.

1. Practice Self-Care

Faculty are doing significant work both in and out of the classroom. Recognize that you are best able to support your students when you practice self-care. Consider identifying mental health support as well as family and colleagues you can reach out to as you navigate election season while also maintaining your personal and professional responsibilities.

Columbia Resources for Faculty, Staff and Researchers, Office of University Life
Resources for faculty as well as where faculty can refer students to for support. Columbia University has trained counselors for students through Columbia Health.

Employee Assistance Program, Human Resources
Featured resources include TalkSpace, Life Coach, as well as other Emotional Well-being resources.

Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, Office of the Provost
Resources include The Faculty Lounge (faculty-only Slack workspace) and the Well-Being resources from the Office of Work/Life.

2. Support Students in Your Classroom

Many faculty have already taken steps to build a supportive learning community with their students. The elections will likely be a stressful event to at least some students in your courses. You might consider letting students know they can reach out to you for additional support regarding assignment deadlines or course engagement. You may also consider providing students opportunities to reflect on the election and/or process the election through disciplinary frameworks in your course. The following resources can help you navigate these:

Teaching and the Election, University of Oregon
This resource provides practical strategies for instructors to support both themselves and their students, including prioritizing care, facilitating connections, and connecting coursework to the elections.

ACT to Sustain Learning Through Current Events, Stanford University, Center for Teaching and Learning
This resource describes how the ACT model—Anticipate the need to support students, Create space for students to process their reactions, Tie current events to course learning—can be used to acknowledge and navigate the potential impact of the elections.

Structuring Classroom Discussions about the 2020 Election, University of Michigan, Center for Research on Learning & Teaching
This resource is a step-by-step guide to planning classroom discussions about the elections before or after election day.

3. Empower Students to Support Themselves and Each Other

Equip students with the skills and resources they need to build resiliency and foster community. If students reach out to you seeking additional support, you can remind them of these Columbia University resources available. 

CU Engage: Civic Engagement, Office of University Life
Resources for students to be civically engaged, from voting in elections to connecting with their elected officials.

Columbia Health, Columbia Health
Resources for students to improve and maintain their mental health, such as Individual Counseling, Friend2Friend (training to support peers), and Coping Tools (which includes Columbia Health’s Guide to Coping with Loss and Grief)

Well-Being at Columbia, Office of University Life
Overview of campus resources, programs, and practical strategies for well-being for Columbia students.

Live Well | Learn Well, Undergraduate Well-Being at Columbia
Comprehensive list of resources for students to maintain their well-being at Columbia. These range from Academic Advising to Inclusion and Belonging.

Additional Resources

The following resources contain useful information for building a supportive learning community for all students in your courses.

Inclusive Teaching Resources, Columbia University, Center for Teaching and Learning

Anti-Racist Pedagogy in Action: First Steps, Columbia University, Center for Teaching and Learning

Helping People Talk About Race: Facilitation Skills for Educators and Trainers, Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race by Derald Wing Sue.