Kids Deserve It! Pushing Teaching Boundaries
Reviewed by Laura Von Staden
In an age of high stakes testing and accountability, low or negative public perception, and a never-ending barrage of new initiatives, teaching is one of the hardest professions.
The authors of Kids Deserve It! write that “Educators work far more than an eight-hour work day . . . exhaust themselves . . . get overwhelmed . . . burn out; Educators are committed and work tirelessly because they know how much kids deserve it. They know they only have a small window of time to make a lasting impact on their students” (p. 165).
And yet, we must fight against the status quo, where an evaluation system fixated on accountability devalues real change, punishes risk taking and failing forward, and often demoralizes those who try to break out of the mold of how things have been done in the past.
Ways to rethink teaching
Nesloney and Welcome (both are award-winning teachers and principals) implore us to be the best educators that we can because “Kids Deserve It!” They provide support and encouragement, suggesting ways we can do this as they address how to rethink our teaching, model risk taking for students, and push the boundaries that hold us back. They also want to make sure that we take care of ourselves, because, after all, we need to be at our very best for our students.
In this fast read (most chapters are 4-8 pages), that includes clear lists for quick reference as well as “things to consider and tweet” at the end of each chapter, the authors provide both teachers and administrators ideas and steps that they can take to challenge the status quo, to not only survive but thrive, and to innovate for student success and a lasting impact on their future.
The authors focus on many of the little things that can make a big difference in the long run in the lives of our students, from simple ideas to convince our students that we care about them and that they are valuable – such as showing you believe in them in the way you respond to their behaviors – to schoolwide “hats off” procedures and ways to help them develop a love for reading.
Taking the lead
The authors discuss leading, both in the classroom as a teacher and as a school administrator, by comparing it to captaining a ship. Our goal should not be to build the ship or sail it ourselves, but to instill in the crew the “longing for the endless immensity of the sea” (lifelong learning). To help us get underway, they offer a list of seven practices designed to achieve this kind of leadership successfully.
Each brief chapter focuses us on one key nugget to create real change for the students we teach. This book is informative, useful, motivational and passionate, because teaching is such a vital profession and “Kids Deserve It!” This is definitely one you will want to add to your leadership (and spirit-bolstering) reading list.
Dr. Laura Von Staden is a middle school Special Education Lead Teacher in Tampa, Florida. She serves on numerous committees both at her school and within her district and works closely with the local university where she is a Professional Practice Partner and master mentor. Dr. Von Staden also facilitates both online and face-to-face Professional Development for her school district.