Is this what’s best for kids?!?

5 actionable steps to do what’s right for kids!

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We must do what’s best for kids. Throughout any school, echoes of this statement permeate through the learning atmosphere. Teachers, campus admin, and district personnel live by “doing what’s best for kids.” How are we stacking up to our commitment?

I often question if we have misunderstood “what’s best for kids” or just replaced it with “what’s easier for now.” Somehow, we still end up over testing students, allowing grades to dominate learning, and watching parental pressures at home do more harm than good. Is this what is best for kids? I am sure that you as the reader and I, especially if you are an educator, would agree on the answer to this question. However, it’s easy to pass the blame, until we realize that we (I, included) are just as culpable.

“What’s best for kids” has lost its meaning!

Somehow, we teach something once or twice and remind the student that it’s his/her responsibility to learn it on his/her own from that point forward (caution: mini rant in progress — here are some of my favorite phrases that are generally partnered with this mentality: this is an honors level course; I must prepare him/her for the real world; I am teaching responsibility; and I am not a babysitter). Is this what is best for kids? We allow time to be the deciding factor for quick numerical feedback (88, 76, 50) instead of giving meaningful qualitative feedback which we know to be effective. We find ourselves blaming the prior years and prior teachers for a learner’s lack of academic progress. Is this what is best for kids? We allow the sausage factory model of education to impede progress; we shove kids in the system and hope they come out on the other end.  Even as an administrator, I too am guilty of allowing such a powerful phrase to become a cliche and negatively impact my decision-making.  Is this what is best for kids? I am sure I lost a few readers along the way.

If this is what’s best for kids, I am heartbroken. But, I know better!

Well, now what? This is the most important question and step. Let’s restore what is best for kids in our schools!

  • ASK! Am I (Are we) doing what’s best for kids? Ask the actual question!
  • REFLECT! Are you meeting each learner’s needs? Imagine that each student were your son/daughter under your instructional leadership – would you think that you are doing what’s best for him/her?
  • MAKE A DIFFERENCE!  Change things up. Do not feel stuck in the system. Be solution-oriented. Sometimes things will changes, other times the system will dominate. No matter what, you should know that you always try to do what’s right for kids.
  • COLLABORATE! Be a thought-partner with other educators and leaders. Question, reflect, and make a difference together.
  • EMPATHIZE! Remember the ultimate goal – to do what’s best for kids. Don’t ignore when someone else isn’t doing what’s best for kids. Step into their shoes to gain insight. Listen to understand. Contribute to their understanding to do what’s best for kids.

Change is slow and will not happen at once. But a step in the direction of restoring “what’s best for kids” can only positively affect our decision-making  and impact the students that we battle for each day.

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