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  • Writer's pictureJim Mercer

SamTastic Weekly Tip - 3/20/23: Lead to Win in Difficult Times

March 20, 2023

This week’s tip: Lead to Win in Difficult Times

Principals and staff are navigating difficult times as extremists place schools in a cultural war zone. Education Week reports 14 states have already enacted legislation restricting how educators address issues like racism and sexism.

Effective leaders are careful to hang on to the core values of our country without engaging in argument or hyperbole.

Dale Carnegie, in his 1936 book How to Win Friends and Influence People, wrote: “I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument — and that is to avoid it. Avoid it as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes.”

Avoiding the argument does not mean agreeing with things you know are not true or conflict with the basic values of our country.

Instead, assume a good intention. For example, “I know you care about this and value freedom and fairness.”

Extreme groups use social media to state things are happening in schools that simply are not. This manufactured outrage is designed to incite and mislead. Many leaders simply respond by asking a person making a false claim to examine the curriculum to see if they can find anything. Again, avoiding an argument is the best way to avoid an argument.

The SAM Communications Protocol, used with First Responders, can also be effective when dealing with false claims. This three-step guide is easy to use and provides a roadmap for getting school community members assistance. Validate ~ Say What You Can Do, Not What you Can’t ~ Refuse to argue

Leaders also have a right, and, perhaps, responsibility, to protect education, staff, students and parents through advocacy, individually and with the groups to which they belong. Leaders must help elected officials understand curriculum, teaching practice and the critical role schools play in transmitting the values of a democratic society. “With liberty and Justice for All” does not happen in a society that does not value equality. Schools and families are where children learn their freedoms, and responsibilities, as American citizens.

SAM Principals understand their work, and that of teachers and support staff, has great importance. School leaders work every day to improve the lives of students and better our communities and nation. Stopping manufactured outrage without engaging in argument allows the focus to remain on student achievement and social/emotional well-being.

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