In September 2001 I was a substitute teacher at an elementary school in Massachusetts. I was listening to the radio as I prepped for my first period and heard about a plane crash. I quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to proceed with the planned lesson. Instead I had to improvise for a classroom full of inquisitive fifth graders who were wondering why every adult in the building looked so stricken.
For today’s teachers, the best-laid lesson plans are much more subject to disruption. The world is faster, more interconnected and students have access to an overwhelming amount of raw information. Educators have the unique and heavy responsibility to sift news from noise and empower students with information to ease their anxieties.
At Newsela, our role is to help teachers navigate complex topics in their classrooms. History textbooks can’t keep up when history unfolds before us, and teachers need access to vetted resources in order to create meaningful, and accessible learning experiences in their classrooms.
For example, within 24 hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we published content for teachers tackling the breaking situation. Our partnership with over 175 publishers ensured that teachers not only have resources to cover the current situation as it unfolds, but also to address the history of the crisis, and dive deeper into foreign policy to help students build the background knowledge they need in order to understand today’s events.
Processing the heavy impact of these events can be hard enough. Teaching it can be even more challenging, and it is up to us as educators to help students process the emotions the news evokes. In support, we offer strategies for teaching sensitive news and social-emotional learning resources to address student uncertainty and fear.
There is no one way to teach amid turmoil. When these big moments happen in our world, Newsela is committed to providing teachers with the coverage and resources they need to help students think critically about the world they live in.