I'm leaving teaching, but I still like to think about what happened this year and what I could have done better or how I could deal with particular situations. I think I'm just a compulsive reflector, lol. (Doesn't help when I'm awake in the middle of the night thinking about social faux pas I made years and years ago, LOL! I'm still kicking myself over some of them.) Anyway, just some background, I moved from a very widely recognized liberal area with a lot of diversity to an area which is very anti-liberal, rural, and 99% white. I also happen to not be white, so I stood out even more. I encountered a lot of prejudice because of who I am especially during this election year. I never discussed my political beliefs, only shared details about my relationship when I was specifically asked and this didn't happen until later in the year, but the kids knew I came from the Bay Area in California, and I was an ethnic minority, so they could guess. Also some googled me and saw my BF and made their decisions based on that. Also the course I teach covers some controversial (in their minds) topics, and though I did my best to hide my own bias in that area, I'm sure they would be able to guess my positions on things. Anyway, these things combined with this community which is very close-minded led me to experience a lot of resistance from the get go from parents and students who did not want a liberal "hippy-dippy" science teacher teaching them. Some were jerks about it. But even ones who were not jerks, students that I really enjoyed teaching even though we have differing beliefs seemed to think that I would grade them differently just because I had different ideas than them. For instance, a student who did great work in class and who I really enjoyed teaching asked me to tell her what she did wrong (in the sense of a personal "wrong") when she received less than perfect grades on certain assignments. This broke my heart and I went through the assignments with her to show her that it was nothing personal, she just didn't meet the requirements or made certain mathematical errors on certain things. We live in a very polarized time, and I hate for students to think that I would dislike them for having different views than me and would penalize them for it. I pride myself on regarding every student based on their own merits and their character (and there were some I personally disliked because they were severely lacking in the character department, but I would never tell them that). Anyway, how can we get past this polarization as educators in the future to express to students that we would never grade them differently based on their political or personal beliefs?