Superintendent Message

October 2017

Mike Nelson




Jeff Utecht was in our system a few weeks ago working with our district leadership team and our middle level language arts, social studies and science teachers. As I shared in a previous week’s edition of the SEN, he also spoke on a Wednesday evening giving tips and tools to our families on supporting their children in being responsible digital citizens. We have had many parents share with us that they are seeking insights as to how to have these conversations with their children. They shared with us the newness of this role in parenting. The following activity was done that Wednesday evening with our families and because it had such an impact I wanted to share it with you.

In table groups, Jeff had us write down the characteristics and attributes of a good citizen. Groups quickly wrote down words such as:

  • Kind
  • Empathetic
  • Hard-working
  • Safe
  • Responsible
  • Contributor
  • Compassionate
  • Caring
  • Thoughtful

Each table group shared one word in which they thought the other tables might want to “steal” or add to their list. Jeff asked the groups if they felt good about their lists for being a good citizen. There was a collective nod of approval in the room.

He then told us to do something that caused the entire room to stir. He told us to add the word “digital” to his first request so it was now, “Write down the characteristics and attributes of a good digital citizen.” He asked us to go back through our lists and place a star by the words that would fit the new request. Slowly groups began putting stars by the words, eventually realizing the words that describe a citizen would also describe a digital citizen.

Immediately, he empowered parents to have conversations with their children about being a good digital citizen by using these words as a guide. He implied this wasn’t really a new conversation between parents and their children. Parents and children regularly have conversations about these words. Using these words in reference to how children use devices is the “new” context. He also shared this is not a “one and done” conversation for parents (and educators) guiding their children in being good digital citizens. He said it is critically important for parents and educators to work together in continually reinforcing the characteristics and values of being a good digital citizen.

Until next month, Happy Learning!

Mike Nelson's signature graphic