As a life-long educator. I believe that we have a responsibility to help our students to become empathetic and contributing citizens in this ever-changing world. If we believe that every child can reach his/her potential to do something meaningful with their lives, then everything we do as adults should send that positive message to the child. Parents, relatives, neighbors, teachers, coaches, community leaders - we all help to mold our children into the adults they will become. That is an awesome responsibility and one I take seriously as a school leader.
We teach our students about mutual respect, no put-downs or name-calling, and taking care of ourselves and others. We want them to be able to solve their problems by talking with the other person and resolving their disagreements respectfully. We want them to show tolerance for differences of opinion or ideas.
As adults, we need to model the behaviors we want our students to internalize. To me, that is one of the most important responsibilities we have as educators and leaders in our classrooms or school or community.
And that is why it bothers me when I see what is happening in our election for President. This isn't leadership. It's bullying, name-calling, disrespect, and mob mentality.What do our children think when they see adults behaving as they do? How do we justify this kind of behavior from adults who claim they are qualified to be the leader of our country? We can't.
But if our children see that behavior and ask about it, we can use this as a learning opportunity. Turn the question back on the child. "What do you think?" Have them reflect on what they're seeing and hearing. Have an honest discussion with them - not a lecture - but a two-way discussion.
With the preponderance of coverage via news and social media, we can no longer shield our children from the kinds of disturbing scenes and speeches that are shared every day. But we can teach them about respect, tolerance, and kindness, and hopefully, the lessons they learn at school or at home or in the community when they are young can help them make the right decisions when they become adults.
A respected leader doesn't pull oneself up by putting others down. Let's hope that the adults perpetuating these behaviors will realize the negative impact they are having on the youth of our country.