Election Preparation Programming Focuses on Proactive Community Discussion
October 26, 2020
With civic duty in mind, the nation has ramped up its activity and excitement over participating in our awesome democratic process and casting votes for elected officials and legislative measures. We are just days from the conclusion of election season. Leading up to it, those eligible to vote have studied the issues and the candidates and have developed their plan for voting either by mail or in person. This exercise is one that is time-honored and sacred.
Madeira’s history includes a deep engagement with the political process, regardless of party. Generations of Madeira women have actively worked on securing voter rights, encouraging voter turnout, and attending inaugurations over the years. While we are a School with a future-minded eye, we reflect on those moments that strengthen our democracy and reinforce Miss Madeira’s belief in a well-informed and active citizenry.
With Madeira’s deep commitment to the democratic process as the backdrop, we have designed learning-rich, community-based work for our students to have in their adolescent “tool-kit” as the election day approaches.
Leading up to the election, we have designed the following:
- Community Meeting Time (CMT) Announcements: Acknowledge upcoming election, with potential for hard feelings and division within the community, regardless of outcome; briefly outline plans for how we are going to process as a community; review appropriate celebration/ expressions of disappointment, in-person and on social media.
- Class Meetings: Provide more detailed information about the election plan with reasoning behind each aspect of the plan and opportunities to ask questions.
- Practice “Processing Groups:” Provide students with optional information sessions during a lunch prior to the election to model what processing groups would look like during a flashpoint. They will be held with different topics about the election for students who are interested.
- Faculty Meetings & Communications
- No assessments on the day after election for students who stay up late watching the returns
- Reminder about what is the appropriate role of adults in a school community regarding politics
- Plans for managing election season, particularly on flashpoint days
- Attendance policies: Giving space for community members to take time out of the day to check-out; Identifying appropriate places for time away
- Identifying facilitators to participate in “Processing Groups” and “Middle Ground” sessions
At various junctures we will deploy the following:
- Processing Groups: Lunchtime groups for in-person students who are feeling a particular way about the current developments. Virtual meetings will also be available for remote students.
- Attendance Policies: Flexible opportunities for students and adults to disengage whether during class time or at other points during the day. Define what appropriate disengagement look like.
- Sources for Reliable Information: Providing students and adults a place to access reliable information.
- TEACH-Ins: Regular sessions with teachers/experts about what’s going on; Explanations about current developments in the process by faculty.
As the election concludes and we march toward the inauguration, we will offer:
- “Middle Ground” Opportunities: For students who would like to engage in discussions about the election with people of differing opinions, we will offer voluntary “Middle Ground” sessions moderated by adults. There would be no audience and no requirement for any students to participate.
We are aware of the polarity of the moment and the emotion that will be felt by the nation, not to mention our 320 teenage girls, when the election concludes. We are also fully aware of the tremendous impact this moment can make in the sisterhood of Madeira. We want this to be a space that will embody the best of our nation and the best of who are as a school community. Our goal is to make this election one where students are mindful of its weight and the fervor of the parties, but even more so, the responsibility to maintain the beauty, richness, and safety of Madeira’s community. What better gift to the nation and to our School than to be a well-informed and active participant/learner in this and every local, state, and national election and an active caretaker of the School and our peers.