Whatever It Takes for Kids…Except THAT!

Are we honest with ourselves?
Are we honest with ourselves when we look into the mirror?

In my 13 years in education, I have yet to hear an educator say anything different: I am all about kids. Kids are my number one priority. I will do whatever it takes for kids. Although we all say the words, sometimes our actions say something different. Sometimes our actions say, “I’ll do whatever it takes for kids…except THAT!”

What are our exceptions? This post is not meant to offend, but to elicit candid reflection of our daily practice. Do our actions support our words? When they don’t, some examples are:

I will do whatever it takes for kids–except…

  • work with THAT parent after that nasty email she sent me
  • collaborate with THAT teacher after what I heard she said about me
  • extend out of my comfort zone
  • incorporate technology into student learning in my classroom
  • implement an IEP modification or 504 accommodation I don’t agree with
  • voice my opinion if it goes against the opinion of the small–but loud–negative group
  • recognize and support social emotional learning
  • hold my team members accountable
  • have a difficult conversation
  • treat all kids fairly (as opposed to equally)
  • say sorry to a student
  • tell a parent I was wrong
  • ask for help
  • share the successes taking place in my classroom
  • differentiate for the abilities and readiness levels in my classroom
  • utilize data as a factor to inform decision-making
  • co-teach
  • share “my” classroom with other sections during my prep and lunch periods
  • teach THAT class
  • switch classrooms or teams next year
  • thank HIM
  • give HER credit
  • candidly reflect on my daily practice and make necessary revisions

We can begin as cautiously as setting personal goals to put a dent in the way our sentences end, or as ambitiously as completely terminating the exceptions at the end of our sentences. Either way, we must have the courage to look ourselves in the mirror and accurately identify how our sentences end, and the professional dignity to do something about it.


  1. Great post Sam.

    I was thinking about something similar recently. It is interesting what we may be willing to do and what we are not willing to do. The sad part of it is that there are a number of challenging items here on the list that are imperative for building a healthy school culture. The best leaders and teachers simply do not avoid them. It just is so unfortunate that in our profession, those who make a real effort to tackle some of the hard stuff are either not supported or become victims of trying to do the right thing.

    September 4, 2015
    • Joni Puckett said:

      Good article about honestly using introspection to identify areas that could use serious innovation. Definitely caused me to reevaluate how I feel when confronting difficult tasks.

      September 5, 2015
      • Sam LeDeaux said:

        Thank you for reading, Joni! Sometimes it simply helps to know we are not alone in confronting difficult tasks 🙂

        September 7, 2015
    • Sam LeDeaux said:

      Very good points, Richard. I often randomly wonder when I engage with or have an experience with an educator, “Is he accomplishing what he set out to accomplish back when he declared education as his major”? It’s ironic how things we encourage our kids to do can be very difficult for us to do, such as take risks or stand up for what is right.

      Thanks for the read, Richard!

      September 7, 2015
  2. […] both demanding and challenging because it is uncomfortable. I really like this post by Sam LeDeaux ‘Whatever it takes it takes for kids…Except THAT’, as it brings to the front some of the key facets of school culture that leaders try to implement […]

    September 4, 2015
  3. Shawn Blankenship said:

    Great article! It made me think about grading practices. “I will do whatever it takes for kids…” except allow a redo…. unless I take off points. I focus more on the teaching than the learning.

    “I believe there is no deadline for learning and I believe all students don’t learn on the same day”… yet I give a zero and move on and let the student off the hook when the work is incomplete.

    In my 17 years in education, I’ve learned that when making a decision regarding “what’s best for kids,” the best decision usually requires more work on the educator. But this is why we do what we do. Otherwise, everyone would be a teacher. GREAT teaching is hard work!

    Another great post Sam!

    September 6, 2015
    • Sam LeDeaux said:

      Ah yes, grading. This is one that certainly can challenge our verbal pedagogy. Our grading actions very clearly define what we value. You’ve also hit on another front line discussion: the difference between teaching and learning–2 very distinctly different processes.

      Thank you for reading, Shawn!

      September 7, 2015

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