Resources for Teachers: Supporting and educating students during unprecedented historical events

Image of Capitol

Published February 1, 2021

The David C. Anchin Center joins educators across the country in emphatically condemning the acts of violence that perpetrated at our nation’s Capitol on January 6th, 2021 that were intended to undermine the democratic process. We are committed to educational practices that will prepare our next generation of citizens to think critically, engage in rigorous inquiry, peacefully explore diverse perspectives, and address societal injustices.   

To support educators who are helping students process the unprecedented events that occurred last month, we have curated a list of resources that may assist in class discussions, critical media literacy, and unpacking news images.

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)

If you’re a social science educator, talking to your students about what occurred on Capitol Hill may be a sensitive topic. Now more than ever, there’s a pressing need to answer questions that revolve around our civil liberties, our political system, and how we should consume information. The NCSS offers resources that could help you introduce complicated subjects more understandably.
One resource titled “Election Security: Fundamental and Threatened” is a great place to start when preparing to discuss the voting process and its importance.

Facing History and Ourselves

Our immediate response to injustice as educators should always include facilitating meaningful conversations with our students. However, it’s essential to think critically before speaking out.
Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit organization that uses history lesson to challenge teachers and students to stand up to bigotry and hate, provides teachers with a few steps that include self-reflection, communicating with colleagues, and creating a space for learners to “address the “heart” before the “head.” The organization also provides several resources for instructors who aim to introduce a discussion virtually.

Teaching Tolerance

Over the past few weeks, students may have had time to process the events that transpired in Washington, but some students may still be working through their emotions. You might be planning to spark a conversation with your students or continue ongoing discussions in your classroom.
In an article titled, “Leading Conversations After Crisis,” Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, offers a few tips such as giving students a platform to lead discussions and sharing what’s true about the situation and what’s not. One exercise discussed involved putting learners into groups of four to six, having them answer a prompt, and allowing every person in each group to speak for three minutes without interruptions.  

Resources from the New York Times

If you’re looking for lesson plans and activities that can help address what led to the events at the Capitol, this article from The New York Times offers resources that may guide you in the right direction.
Resources include a list of essential questions, videos, and podcasts that can be shared in classrooms and several assignment ideas that allow students to think critically about current events. The article also links to a student opinion piece that may help middle and high school educators gain insight into how other students feel about the situation.

The Washington Post: “What are you teaching tomorrow?”

The Washington Post shared an article that featured a pressing question one teacher on Twitter felt moved to tweet on the day of insurrection.   
The question, "So educators, I ask in all sincerity, what are you teaching tomorrow?”  was followed by a chain of responses from teachers who said they would pause their lesson plans, let students lead discussions, or continue teaching in hopes of maintaining “normalcy” in their classrooms.
Though time has passed, perhaps this question is still one you struggle with today. “Tomorrow” could represent the coming weeks or even the coming months. In a time where injustice and inequality seem to prevail, we should take time to reflect on how we can best impact the next generation we have in front of us in our classrooms.

About the David C. Anchin Center for the Advancement of Teaching:

The mission of the David C. Anchin Center for the Advancement of Teaching is to collaborate with teachers, school leaders, districts, and other educators to improve the quality of education for students and to transform the teaching profession to attract, retain, and develop quality educators. We achieve this mission through partnerships with schools, the broader educational community, business and industry, and the community at large. To learn more, visit