I hope you are doing well and that you and your children have had a great week! It is hard to believe we have now completed eight weeks of a remarkably challenging new school year. Thank you to our teachers, our students, and you—our parents—for allowing us to get off to such a good start.
As I visit SAS classrooms every week, one of the things I most enjoy is hearing the quality of the conversations students are having among themselves and with their teachers. Whether the topic is the anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11 that we discussed in advisories last week, the upcoming US election, or the world’s response to the COVID pandemic, we have many topics that are enriched by diverse views and meaningful conversations. This skill is especially important in our world today. I encourage you to engage your children in the evening over what they are learning in school every day and continue the discussions at home.
A number of you have asked as a school how we teach about important, contentious issues such as the forthcoming US election. We recently shared a message with our educators to give guidance on this question. In it, we noted:
“During election season and beyond, as educators we should be intentional in providing opportunities to examine multiple perspectives and points of view. Elections, whether in the US or elsewhere, offer great opportunities for teaching moments about the issues being debated and discussed and how what students are learning in classrooms—whether history or public speaking or economics or science—plays out in real life.
“To reach our vision of creating exceptional thinkers, we are tasked with teaching students the skills to assess and think critically. We want them to be able to discern fact from opinion, probe their values and biases, explore the factual basis of assertions, judge the quality of sources of information, and understand multiple sides of an argument. Ultimately, as they grow into adults, we want them to arrive at their own conclusions based on research, personal values, critical thinking, broad perspectives and lived experiences.
“Regarding the upcoming election, we encourage you to use the opportunity to help your students grow in these skills. Please use the opportunity to help students deepen their understanding of the issues being discussed and learn how to model civil discourse in our classrooms. At the same time, we encourage you in your role in school as a classroom teacher not to openly support or oppose individual candidates or political parties. In taking this approach, we encourage and facilitate students in their own learning while at the same time remaining sensitive to the power dynamic that exists between teacher and student.”
I also want to say I am looking forward to resuming my regular conversations with you. Our work is collaborative work between parents and educators, and I am grateful for your continued partnership as we prepare our kids for the future. To connect this year, I am holding a series of events called Conversations with the Superintendent. These sessions are an opportunity for me to connect with you and to hear your views about where we are today as a school and where we are going. I encourage you to click here and register for a session. I look forward to seeing you!