Misguided or destructive?…

I became a runner because a coach cared about me, even though—at the time—I was the worst runner on the team. The fact that she cared about me, and her ability to let me know that, literally changed my life. I went on to run in college, and I still run all but two days a month (I force myself to take one day off every other week). Since she cared, I cared, and once I cared, I started to really try. And lo and behold! I found out that I was actually pretty fast.

I think about that series of events all the time, because it’s a lesson I was able to apply to my own teaching. I see it with my own students, just about every day. I see firsthand that most kids will plug into class once they realize their teacher cares.

There are exceptions to that, of course: some students (not many) don’t need to know their teacher cares.

Most do, though—and when they know it, amazing academic growth often happens.

It’s one of the reasons why all of the current education reforms (DEforms, if you will) concern me. Ed Reformers are trying to take the heart out of teaching, which will impact academic success, and I don’t think that they realize what they are doing. I hope that they don’t realize it, anyway, because if they do realize it and are still doing it, then that’s just wrong—or worse. I’d rather think of them as misguided than purposefully destructive.

Teachers are left to deal with what they know is important, what they know works, even though many of the forces above them are pushing down on them to do things that—ultimately—chip away at the powerful bond between teachers and students.

Lest someone misunderstand me…a student needs much more than the knowledge that his teacher cares about him. He needs his parents to care, for example, and he needs a teacher who will challenge him to learn and grow as a student.

However, he’s more apt to meet that challenge if he knows he’s cared about, and that’s what’s getting lost in the shuffle of education right now. The good teachers are still doing this very easy thing of showing they care (indeed, it’s the fun part of the job), but it’s not what’s valued in this current academic society.

**And here’s a quick disclaimer…at my site, caring is still valued. However, I’ve got enough friends elsewhere and I have read enough to know that SUSD is the exception, not the rule.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Misguided or destructive?…

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  1. I remember a lot of my teachers from school, however there is one teacher that I still remember very well and she will always be special to me. Mrs. Locke was a teacher that really cared and she let her students know that she did. Although I did have parents that cared about me, it still made a difference in my life that my teacher did too! Chris, you have so much passion for teaching and for your students and I hope they feel blessed that you are part of their journey in life.

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  2. Yes, great teachers make a huge difference! (wink, wink to a great teacher of mine!) As a preschool teacher, I have to also add that letting FAMILIES know you care is so valuable as a teacher. It is a tremendous blessing when I have the time to form deep, lasting relationships with families as partners in their children’s education. When I show them I care about their child, provide resources and suggestions, and ask for their input, the possibilities are endless! I see my role as someone who educates the whole family about autism and strategies for kids with developmental delays. We all learn together 🙂 Sadly, greater demands on my time (related to high stakes testing/evaluations coming all the way down to preschool) creates demands on me that make family relationships challenging. So sad and discouraging as a teacher.

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