A Teachable Moment: Intent and Impact

Note: This writing is not about politics. It IS about culture, relationships, compassion and teaching.

Background: "An elementary school in Idaho has received major backlash after several teachers wore offensive costumes for Halloween and posted the images to social media. At least a dozen teachers at Heights Elementary School in Middleton dressed up for the annual holiday as the proposed border wall and Mexican stereotypes". https://www.cbsnews.com/news/idaho-teachers-dress-up-like-border-wall-mexican- stereotypes-for-halloween-middletown-school-district/

I was saddened that at least a dozen educators in Middleton, Idaho chose to dress

as the proposed border wall and Mexicans for Halloween. The teachers displayed their choice of costume in a school classroom, photographed AND placed their picture on their school district’s Facebook page!

Dr. Josh Middleton, superintendent of Middleton School District, stated that “...the teachers did not intend to upset anyone with their costumes.”

Herein is the teachable moment. Intent and Impact. This kind of “poor judgment” and insensitive behavior has an impact on everyone in the community. The behavior of the teachers directly involved is an indication that those involved believed that this kind of behavior is acceptable perhaps. I want to point out that no one is an innocent bystander here because others may have been involved who could have spoken out about this...others perhaps knew of the plan to wear the costumes, perhaps some saw the costumes within the school, perhaps some district educators saw the photos that were taken and placed on the district's Facebook page, all who seemed to have remained silent. This silence indicates to me that this kind of open bias is acceptable

behavior within the culture of the district.

Good teaching and learning is a result of: content knowledge, a relationship, pedagogy and trust. Without relationship and trust, learning is questionable.

  In this case the educators involved have clearly violated the bond of trust and the relationship with all of the students. Regardless of their INTENT, the IMPACT is painful.

In order to address this situation and the hurt that has been engendered, I believe that the leadership needs to set the tone. The district, with superintendent Josh Middleton setting the example, should direct their sincere (non-defensive) attention to the impact this action has caused to the children (minority and majority), the parents (who place their children in the hands of educators with trust), and the community (showing how you choose to welcome all).

The educators should address their decision and actions, not simply with an apology which can be delivered without sincerity. The educators involved should learn about and demonstrate a true understanding of the damaging impact of their decision and behavior on the entire Middleton community.

Superintendent Dr. Josh Middleton stated, “We are better than this....” Now, I believe, is the time to prove and demonstrate that.