Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

The idea of voting before school occurred to me around 6am.  Conditions were ideal - I was driving myself, not carpooling, and I had about a 15 minute window of opportunity to wait in line. I admit that showing off a "I Voted" sticker all day at school was a great incentive!  When I arrived at the polling place, the sky was brightening (thanks to daylight savings), the parking lot was filling up, and there was a nice community feeling in line since my brother-in-law and 2 next door neighbors kept me company for the ten minutes that I waited.  I was disappointed to find NO sticker, so the pic above shows my homemade version.

At school, many students saw my sticker and asked, "Who'd you vote for?"  I didn't plan on this - DUH me - so the best idea I could muster in a few seconds was to deliver a mini-lecture about respect and civility and tolerance to the student and then answer directly.  It's consistent with my philosophy of teaching middle school students - provide authentic learning experiences and offer examples, including my own.

Several colleagues have told me in the past and today that they keep their voting decisions private, and I fully respect their choice.  One Social Studies teacher told me today that to express his own political views outright to students would invite parents to complain that his teachings were politically biased.  I most certainly do not want that problem.

After school, I picked up a free tall brew (decaf) from the Starbucks drive-thru, on my drive home.


Sue said...

I'm glad you have the courage of your convictions to tell your students who you voted for. I think it helps kids to learn that everyone has their own opinions and they can still be respectful of other opinions.

I have trouble being so open. Especially as I get older. I hated Reagan, was certain he would ruin the country, and he wasn't so bad. I loved Clinton, and he was rather embarassing. At this point, I hate to admit WHO I like. I have problems trusting ANY politician!

Ms. George said...

I think you went about answering the question the best way you could. As ELA teachers, we may have a little more leeway from parents, but I still try to keep those views out of the classroom. That said, many of my lovelies know enough about me that they guess where my beliefs lie. I guess some of the things I say about tolerance, acceptance of diversity, being respectful and responsible citizens and members of a community paid off.
I did answer one of the many students who asked with, "I'll tell you who I did not vote for the last 8 years and leave it at that..." They got the idea.

Sarah said...

Yay for free Starbucks!!!

40 said...

Good for you. I tell my students who I voted for, but only AFTER the election is over. And only with a very detailed power point that describes the issues that are important to me. I have never had a complaint about it. My reasoning (which I share with my principal and department head) is that I want to teach tolerance of other's decisions and also an understanding of how (at least one) adult thinks through this very difficult decision.

But, I am a history teacher and I spent 4 days (at the very least) discussing issues, candidates, etc. It is VERY even handed throughout and most students have no idea who I voted for until I disclose it. The key for me is to keep reminding them throughout that I respect their decisions and ideas and I hope they return the favor with me.

Voting is a great thing and I want my students to be actively involved when they are old enough.

Frum said...

In my school there is no policy concerning elections, so some teachers tell and others don't. I usually tell my students, although during the period before the elections I tend not to tell them in order not to appear biased and in order to let them think by themselves. I think explaining why I voted for a certain party, and then explain how everyone is free to have their own opinion, is a true lesson in democracy.