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Superintendent's News

Posted: February 25, 2022

Thinking About What Others Are Trying to Say

"Engaging in a conversation with someone you disagree with can expose you to new ideas and potential experiences," Supt. Elder wrote in his weekly message.

A journalist promoting a new talk show caught my attention this week when he said, "It's not my job to tell you what to think. It's my job to think about what you tell me."

That got me thinking.

There's no question we are a divided nation when it comes to a whole host of topics – from politics and vaccine mandates to music and sports to go-to comfort foods. Personally, I'm a classic rock and enchilada kind of guy. You prefer pasta and rap? Leafy greens and country.

Hmm. Tell me more.

Too often, our initial reaction is to reject viewpoints that don't reflect our own. Leafy greens, really? But engaging in a conversation with someone you disagree with can expose you to new ideas and potential experiences.

Isn't that what we teach our students? Don't we want them to be open-minded, to seek and grapple with opinions contrary to their own? Isn't education all about sharing ideas, insights, questions, and stories?

As public educators, we serve as role models for our students. They are watching, listening, and mimicking the ways we talk and respond to each other, even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree. Our words matter, as do our actions.

There's no doubt we are living through some tough times. We are COVID fatigued and stretched to the limit. We are constantly pivoting as public health orders and rules change. While we all want to keep our students and staff safe, we don't all agree on the best way to go about doing that. The public discourse can, at times, be nasty, and it's easy to get caught up in the anger and frustration. 

As we continue to navigate through these challenging times, maybe it will help to step back for a moment and think about what others are trying to tell you. Take the time to put yourself in someone else's shoes and see what the world looks like from where they are standing. It's a good practice to model for our kids. And as that reporter said in his promo, "Trust me. We're better at this than we think we are."