To create an environment where students are prepared to have tough conversations, teachers first need to build trust and community.
"I feel like sometimes we get so caught up in curriculum, we get so caught up in testing, that we forget how to teach people to be people," says Teisha Thomas, who teaches English Language Arts to middle school students at The Springfield Renaissance School in Springfield, Massachusetts.
It's vital for teachers to show students how to communicate when they're upset and how to acknowledge different perspectives, Thomas explains. And when students understand that these are classroom norms, they have the tools and attitude necessary to tackle any difficult discussion.
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