Unity is the Path Forward

We all want the children to be healthy and happy.

Ashley Anderson
Classroom Champions
5 min readSep 23, 2021


Well people, here we go again! It’s the start of yet another unpredictable and challenging school year. The pandemic life has worn out its welcome (not that it was ever actually welcome), but just because we’re over it, doesn’t mean it’s over! School is here again and although I’m hopeful it will bring some welcome improvements with the transition from remote learning back to in-person instruction, there’s this nagging feeling that it still may get worse before it gets better.

My summer break was too short to fully recover as school started back several weeks early here in my district in Medford, Oregon. Just as we are returning to classrooms fully in person, we are facing the worst spread of Covid-19 to date with the Delta variant here, our regional hospital ICU beds are full, smoke from wildfires has deemed the outdoor air quality as unhealthy and our community is completely divided on the big issues. Masks and distancing are still required in school and a new vaccine mandate by our governor was recently announced for school staff. Disagreement abounds, emotions are at a breaking point, and we’ve only just begun.

Whether the new school year is just getting started for you or already well underway, take this moment to congratulate yourself for showing up again for another wild ride and take some time to reflect and refocus as you transition into this new school year.

There are still so many challenges and yet no easy answers. Everyone has strong opinions and emotions related to the current state of the still-Covid-affected world. People seem to be more disgruntled towards one another than ever before, and the division among the citizens of our society has never been greater.

We could argue about so many things:

  • In-person school or remote school
  • Mask mandates or mask bans
  • The vaccinated or the opposed
  • Democrat or Republican
  • The Bills or The Dolphins ;-)

There’s an endless amount of opposing viewpoints, so let’s just agree to disagree, and then move forward on common ground. Whatever’s on your mind, this is the time to band together on what is the most important thing: We all want the children to be healthy and happy.

So, how will we move forward when we don’t agree? How do we lead with courage? How do we stay hopeful?

Here’s what I am thinking: We must embrace the “AND” mindset. Now I don’t know if that’s a real thing, but when I was scrolling through social media a few days ago, I ran across this graphic and it gave me pause. There are so many opposing things that can be true at the same time and embracing the dichotomy can bring a feeling of acceptance and peace.

Things that can be equally true: You are resilient and need a break. You gave your all and need to back out. You are independent and still need others. You were sure and things changed. You are kind and have boundaries. Others have it worse and your pain is valid. You did your best and now you know more.

If I were to add just one more “AND” to this list that would be very relevant for the start of this new school year, I would add …

We can have our own opinions AND still be united in the charge for healthy, happy children.

Last year, so much time was spent on debating who was right and who was wrong. I recently read a quote from Ramit Sethi which resonates here: “Who wins at the end of the day? The self-satisfied people who heatedly debate some obscure details? Or the people who sidestep the entire debate and get started?” To be clear, I don’t believe that arguments about kids in schools with Covid safety protocols are “obscure details,” but I do believe we’ve lost precious time talking in circles.

So, right now to get started for this school year, we must come together and stay focused on wellness. We can’t waste time trying to change anyone’s mind about these hot button issues. We won’t change anyone’s mind by making them feel worse with a heated argument. We need to embrace empathy. I highly doubt you’ll regret being kind.

“We change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad.” — BJ Fogg

As people, whatever our role (educator, administrator, parent, community member), we are going to have to work together — to take care of ourselves and each other — so that we can take care of the children in our charge.

We all want the children to be healthy and happy.

It’s true that many of the stifling discomforts of Covid-era education have yet to subside, but if we can show up bravely with patience and kindness while staying focused on the common ground of wellness, we will end up with healthier and happier students (and be healthier and happier ourselves) in the long run.

For me, showing up with a common goal of wellness for my students (and myself) looks like taking a step back from getting overly involved or trying to prove my point to anyone. It is me taking time to really get to know my students strengths and needs, and sharing my own with them. It means letting go of the old normal in search of a better new normal. It is less about getting my way or being right.

It has never been more true that we are all in this together, and although that phrase is as worn out as we are … we simply must come together in kindness to move forward one step at a time.

“Just Show Up. Be Brave. Be Kind. Rest. Try Again.” — Glennon Doyle

We all want the children to be healthy and happy.

Unity is the path forward.



Ashley Anderson
Classroom Champions

Third Grade Teacher, Medford, Oregon, USA Teacher Ambassador for Classroom Champions