How Southern California teachers explain U.S. Capitol riot – Orange County Register

Even as custodians and workers clean up damage left after rioters invaded the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday, Jan. 6, there’s another mess, as teachers and other adults try to figure out how to explain the events to the country’s children.

“It was hard yesterday,” said Elizabeth Ramos, choking up. She’s taught government and history at Alta Loma High School in Rancho Cucamonga through the Obama and Trump presidencies.

Online classes resumed Monday at the Chaffey Joint Union High School District and Wednesday was the first day Ramos met students in her Advanced Placement Government class.

It didn’t go as planned.

“‘Hi, I’m Ms. Ramos, but I think we have to deal with the elephant in the room,’” she recounted Thursday. “I normally start with this whole inspirational thing with John Lewis and ‘good trouble‘ and how subversion is not always bad, but we have to deal with this.”

Ramos has seen heightened engagement with Washington politics since President Donald Trump was elected in 2016. She heard from former students on social media Wednesday, saying they wish they were still in her class, to help make sense of what happened.

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Shawn Chen, an English teacher at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, jumped right into the issue Thursday during her senior seminar class.

“I can see all the faces have all the feelings,” Chen said as she showed her class a video of Wednesday’s violence. “They’re the ones inheriting this world and taking over. … So it’s good to let them work out amongst themselves what (this situation) all means.”

As Wednesday’s events were broadcast around the world, the nation’s social studies teachers jumped online to discuss how to explain it to their students, said Chris Flores, a history teacher TeWinkle Middle School in Costa Mesa.

“There were so many teachers together sharing resources, they put it in a Google Doc and it crashed,” Flores said.

At El Segundo High School, junior Samera Eusufzai said many of her teachers altered their lessons based on students’ emotions.

Her class had the option to take time away from their computers, do independent work or have class as usual, Eusufzai said, and one math teacher showed a TED Talk about the importance of seeking news from different sources with different political opinions. Another teacher gave a lesson on how the attack was unconstitutional.

“We mostly had open and honest conversations about how we felt, and (teachers) shared a lot of their opinions, which I appreciated,” Eusufzai said.

Emily Weisberg, a seventh- and eighth-grade history teacher at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, said she planned to use the week’s events to teach about the 25th Amendment, sedition and diversity within Congress.

Weisberg encouraged other educators and parents to have honest discussions with their students and said it’s OK to let students know that even adults don’t always have all the answers.

“There’s enormous power in saying, as educators, that we don’t know everything … to let (students) know that the confusion they’re feeling or the anxiety they’re feeling is shared,” she said. “Being honest that way helps them to navigate the situation because they feel a little less alone.”

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