Week Eleven–More Important Than Math

I want to honor my commitment to posting weekly, but this week I can’t simply report on what happened in my classes. This week was too much. This week was too hard.

I live in the great state of California, in the amazing city of San Francisco. We are by no means universal in our beliefs, political or otherwise, but there is a definite liberal leaning around these parts. Many people in my life are reeling right now from the outcome of the election. I am as well.

Our students were hurting this week. They were confused, they were angry, they were disappointed, some of them were scared. We teach our students to be honest, to be kind, to conduct themselves with integrity in all that they do. They make plenty of mistakes, but they also come to expect this of themselves and of one another. They certainly expected the same from the leaders of our country.

On Wednesdays our school schedule begins with advisory. We meet in small groups that stay together across all four years a student is at our school. This year I have a new (and awesome) group of freshmen. There was a plan–an agenda–for the week, but that all went out the window Tuesday night as the election results rolled in. When I walked into my advisory room on the 9th, one of my advisees was in tears. She’d stayed up late talking and texting with her friends, one of whom is terrified that his parents will be deported.

I can’t just tell these kids that everything will be okay.

I wish that I could. I wish that I believed that this was true. But I just don’t know if it is.

Instead, I asked everyone to check in with how they were feeling. I went first. I shared how I was scared and sad and frustrated and angry and confused. My voice shook and my eyes welled up with tears, but still I spoke. I told my students that I would be looking for ways to stand up and make a difference. To do good in the world in whatever way I could.

Each student shared their thoughts, which ranged from deep sadness to outright confusion and disbelief. Afterwards, I asked everyone to go around and share something they were grateful for. Despite the strong emotions that we had shared with one another, we ended our time together with gratitude. For family and friends; for a future where this group of young people will have more of a voice; for the outcomes in this election that we do celebrate; and for chocolate chip cookies, which were very much needed at that moment in time.


The Student Life Council recently put up a blackboard in our dining hall for students and staff to write in response to a variety of prompts. Wednesday’s prompt was “What are you scared of?”

I wrote: Apathy.


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