Search

To teach, is to Care

"Kids don't learn from people they don't like" – Rita Pierson

Post 5

I have learned that it is very important to focus on what students view as evidence of teacher care. The trickiest thing about this topic is how varied it can be from student to student. It is crucial that teachers try and focus on students individually because, in the end, the student is the arbiter of whether or not a teacher is demonstrating care. The more I researched and read on this topic, the more I was convinced of its importance. Studies have shown there are many benefits for students when they perceive care from their teachers. Such benefits include:

  • Better social and academic development
  • Increased motivation
  • Increased academic achievement
  • Increased confidence and self esteem
  • Decrease in “off task” or disruptive behavior

I think there is an endless amount of things to be learned about this topic. One can read all of the generalized statements and research they like, but in reality, each student needs to be considered as an individual. For the rest of my career, each student will have his or her own needs that I will need to be thoughtful of when trying to show them care. Although this can be a frustrating process of trial and error, I believe it is a crucial part of making an authentic impact on students.

Below is a list of all the traits I have compiled over the course of this project that indicate care to students. Remember, this list in not the “end all, be all.” There are things that could be added to this list and not everything on this list will apply to every student.

  1. A caring teacher considers the learning needs of students and provides scaffolding during teaching
  2. A caring teacher makes him or herself readily available to students
  3. A caring teacher does his or her best to maintain a kind disposition towards all students
  4. A caring teacher shows personal interest in the well being of students, both inside and outside of the classroom
  5. A caring teacher is mindful of the students’ home situations and commitments outside of the classroom
  6. A caring teacher shows enthusiasm when working with his or her students
  7. A caring teacher is careful to provide positive, constructive feedback
  8. A caring teacher encourages students to pursue opportunities related to their academic strengths
  9. A caring teacher works to ensure a respectful and safe learning environment for all students
  10. A caring teacher remains aware of students’ family situations – illnesses, divorce, etc.
  11. A caring teacher points out student strengths and then encouraging growth in that area
  12. A caring teacher is respectful of student time outside of his or her classroom
  13. A caring teacher shows an interest in students’ extra-curricular activities
Advertisements

Presentation Brainstorm and Rubric

Short video – I could put together a video via iMovie and share it with my classmates through a Vimeo link. The video would summarize my project –

  • Brief overview of why I picked the topic
  • Steps I took to research it
  • Main findings
  • Reflection on how it will effect my teaching practice

Website – I could create another Wix site that summarizes my project (same components as the video, just given in a different format)

  • Brief overview of why I picked the topic
  • Steps I took to research it
  • Main findings
  • Reflection on how it will effect my teaching practice
Process (WordPress posts throughout course) Below Average Satisfactory Excellent
1. Has a well defined topic 1             2             3 4         5        6           7 8             9             10
2. Provides insight as to why topic is important to education 1             2             3 4         5       6         7 8             9             10
3. Lays out plan for how research will be completed 1             2             3 4         5       6        7 8             9             10
4. Shares what is discovered as student is researching 1             2             3 4         5       6         7 8             9             10
Final Product Below Average Satisfactory Excellent
5. Provides overview as to why topic was chosen 1             2             3 4         5       6         7 8             9             10
6. Shares the steps taken to research the topic 1             2             3 4         5       6         7 8             9            10
7. Summary of the main findings 1             2             3 4         5       6         7 8             9             10
8. Reflection on how findings will impact your teaching practice 1             2             3 4         5      6           7 8             9             10
9. Organization and professionalism of product format 1             2             3 4         5       6         7 8             9             10
10. Grammar and mechanics 1             2             3 4        5       6         7 8             9             10

Post 4

To continue research for my topic, I turned to literature on the subject. A good amount of research has been done on student perception of teacher care. I enjoyed reading the articles because they aligned with the experiences I have had as both a student and a teacher. I found a lot of similarities between the interviews I conducted with my teachers and the various articles I read. I summarized my findings by creating a list of the most common traits students and teachers have reported as indicating care:

  1. A caring teacher considers the learning needs of students and provides scaffolding during teaching
  2. A caring teacher makes him or herself readily available to students
  3. A caring teacher does his or her best to maintain a kind disposition towards all students
  4. A caring teacher shows personal interest in the well being of students, both inside and outside of the classroom
  5. A caring teacher is mindful of the students’ home situations and commitments outside of the classroom
  6. A caring teacher shows enthusiasm when working with his or her students
  7. A caring teacher is careful to provide positive, constructive feedback
  8. A caring teacher encourages students to pursue opportunities related to their academic strengths
  9. A caring teacher works to ensure a respectful and safe learning environment for all students

While doing my readings for task one this week, I came across an interesting comment that said students percive teacher care differently according to their race and gender. I found this concept to be rather interesting and decided to look into how race and gender effects student perception of teacher care. I found two articles that addressed this topic well and came away with the following conclusions about care as it relates to race and gender:

  1. Minority students tend to report that effective, academic support shows them that their teachers care
  2. Majority students (usually Caucasian) tend to report that interpersonal relationships with teachers show them care
  3. Boys were far more likely than girls to report that they appreciate gestures such as hugs, pats on the back, etc.
  4. Girls mostly associated academic support with signs that their teacher cares for them

These articles were careful to state that these were broad trends. For example, they should not be taken so far as to think that minority students do not appreciate interpersonal relationships in addition to academic support. Ideally, teachers should consider and treat each student as an as individual, not as a member of a generalized population. That being said, I still found the trends found in these articles interesting and something to keep in mind. Due to my personal experience in the field of education, I agree with the insight that these articles had to offer. As a tutor for UGA’s Athletic Department, I work predominately with African American, male students. I have found that my students feel cared for when I combine interpersonal and academic ways of caring. There are days when my students need things such a hugs, compliments, and encouragement. However, I know that these interpersonal ways of caring would mean far less to them if I wasn’t clearly devoted to their educational success as well. In my experience, my African American students feel most cared for when there is evidence of both academic and interpersonal caring.

Sources used this week:

Garza, R. (2008). “Latino and White High School Students’ Perceptions of Caring Behaviors: Are We Culturally Responsive to Our Students?”

Rolón-Dow, R. (2005). “Critical Care”

Tosolt, B. (2010). “Gender and Race Differences in Middle School Students’ Perceptions of Caring Teacher Behaviors.”

The Adolescent

Do not limit me,

I was not given these aptitudes to be restrained.

Do not underestimate me,

I am capable of more than you know.

Do not stifle me,

I am trying to grow.

Do not simplify me,

I am complex and innovative.

Do not undervalue me,

I am powerful and strong.

Do not dismiss me,

I was given a voice in order to be heard.

Do not tame me,

I am young, I am wild, and I am free.

Do not categorize me,

I cannot be bound by your classifications

Do not stereotype me,

I am unique in mind, body, and soul.

Do not overlook me,

I am the future.

Encourage me,

I blossom from your recognition.

Support me,

I need to know I am not alone.

Guide me,

I am an adolescent and I am on to great things.

Post 3

I decided to begin my research with the best, personal sources I know. I have stayed in contact with three teachers that made a large impact on my life. When I think about their classrooms, I recall moments of challenge and growth, sprinkled in with moments of care and feelings of safety. I contacted each of these teachers and asked them simply – “How do you show students that you care?”

The first to respond was my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Blackmon. My memories of her are fonder than any other teacher. I think this is due to two main factors: 1) She was understanding and helpful during a very tumultuous time in my family’s personal life – my newborn brother nearly died after birth and we had to spend nearly a month with him at one of the top children’s hospitals in Orlando, FL. During that time, she insisted I stay in Florida with my family, mailing me packets of work with detailed instructions and permission to contact her with questions at any time so that I would not get behind my classmates. In addition to the work she would include notes from my classmates and pictures of what was going on in class so that I didn’t feel estranged from the group. 2) Mrs. Blackmon was also the first teacher to tell me I had a gift for writing and she encouraged it fervently. That year I wrote many pieces about my brother’s adoption, illness, and near death. Writing about it helped me process everything that had happened and all the changes I was experiencing in my life. She would read each piece thoroughly, exclaim at its depth and word choice, etc. Then she would give me tips to improve it. She even submitted some of my work to be published. Mrs. Blackmon’s response to my question was fitting of all the memories I have of her. She said, “I show kids I care by paying close attention to all parts of their lives and understanding that my classroom only plays a part of it. I try to use the part my classroom plays to make them feel seen, heard, loved, encouraged, and supported. I try and find something unique and talented about each student. I tell them about this trait and encourage them to develop it.”

The second teacher to respond was my 6th grade, gifted language arts teacher – Mrs. Taylor. She was a spunky woman, always challenging us to do things we thought we couldn’t. Of course, we tried anyway. Her bright eyed, smiley face, unshakable confidence in us made it our worst nightmare to disappoint her. I made a ton of “mistakes” in Mrs. Taylor’s classroom, but I was never afraid of them or embarrassed to seek correction and guidance. I felt safe in her classroom. Her response was fitting of my memories as well: “Students see that you care when you are excited and happy to be with them. You have to show them that even the most mundane of days … Like a random Monday in February is still a great blessing – that you get to be here with the greatest group of kids a teacher could hope to work with. Don’t get me wrong, this is not an act. I really do feel this way. I am always amazed at the things my kids can do. I am also very careful with my words AND body language when offering critiques to my students. It is critical to encourage students in a way that encourages growth, instead of projecting failure onto what a student has done.”

The last teacher to respond was my eighth grade science teacher, Mrs. Madden. I loved Mrs. Madden because she was realistic about our lives and responsibilities outside her class. She would tell us “Let’s work hard in here so you can go do everything else expected of you out there.” It seemed we never wasted a minute in her class and I remember feeling really grateful for her dedication to make the most of our time. Mrs. Madden was really into sports and clubs and was always asking us about how our other activities were going. Although she knew very little the equestrian world I was such a part of, she always remembered to ask how my competitions went. One day she requested that I bring her a recording of my jumping rounds and then spent 15 minutes asking me questions about how it was being judged or what was considered good, bad, etc. She was understanding when my competitions required me to travel and never implied that my absences shouldn’t be excused because it wasn’t a “school sport” like other teachers did. Again, her response reflects my memories in her classroom: “Kids have a life outside of school and outside of just your class. Homework is fine, projects can be good but all in moderation. Give these kids your best for the hour you have them then leave time for them to live and grow in other aspects of their lives. I have found that respecting students’ time goes a long way in showing them that you care. I am also really into their sports and other activities. I try to go to all the sporting events, dance recitals, art shows, and concerts that I can. Students respond very well when you show interest in the things that make them unique.”

From these personal reflections and responses I have created a short list of ways that teachers can show care to their students:

  • Remaining aware of students’ family situations – illnesses, divorce, etc.
  • Pointing out student strengths and then encouraging growth in that area
  • Showing enthusiasm to work with students
  • Being very careful with the way you give critiques
  • Respecting student time outside of your class
  • Showing an interest in students’ extra-curricular activities

From here, I plan to start looking into research articles and other literature to further explore the topic of teacher care.

Post 2

As I was learning about everyone’s genius hour projects, I found I had the most in common with Haylee’s question, “How can I better relate to and engage with my students in a way that helps them socially and academically?” I think we are both very focused on fostering a healthy student-teacher relationships, which, in my opinion, is the bedrock of the classroom.

I noticed a trend in many other projects towards a focus on social justice– I think that is so cool! Education falls victim to trends and buzzwords all the time, but I hope the “social justice movement” is here to stay. I think that incorporating social justice into the classroom links back to my genius hour question because the work done through social justice is based on caring about the rights and well being of others. I am willing to bet that applying social justice to the communities in which our students live would go a long way towards showing them that we care for and are interesting in their lives. Linking back to Haylee’s project, I am sure that teaching for social justice would help relate to students in a way that develops their social and academic selves as well!

Two great Twitter accounts I have followed this past week are :

Pernille Ripp

(@pernilleripp)

Steven W. Anderson

‪@web20classroom

Steven posted the most wonderful blog post about being proud to be “just” a teacher. The article focuses on the impact we have on our students’ lives and how this impact reaches out so far beyond ourselves. I enjoyed it because of its emphasis on caring teacher-student relationships, which is the focus of my project. A link to the blog post is below:

http://pernillesripp.com/2015/07/09/you-are-not-just-a-teacher/

For all my social justice friends, you MUST follow Dr. Bettina Love. She is a professor here at UGA and is so inspirational. I think you can get a lot of great ideas from her about teaching for social justice.

 Bettina Love

‪@BLoveSoulPower

I have found Twitter to be so useful for this class! I am glad I started using it as a professional resource and not just a timewaster for videos of cute puppies and kittens. The chats are informative and have linked me up with some people that have great ideas and resources. For me, everything I am finding is applicable to my project because it is all evidence of teachers caring and going the extra mile for their students.

Post 1

During my student teaching, I stumbled upon a Ted Talk given by Rita Pierson. In this talk, Rita encourages educators to inspire their kids, preaching, “Every child needs a champion.” In the midst of her inspirational and wise musings, one statement has stuck with me like no other – “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” My first reaction was an audible chuckle and a base-line agreement that this statement was true. But as I began to reflect further, I realized how big of an impact this truth has on me – both through my past as a student, and in my future as an educator.

Rita is right. Kids do not learn from people they don’t like. If you reflect on your own schooling, I am willing to bet you will find it to be true as well. My high school chemistry teacher was a dry, detached, shell of a teacher, if I do say so myself. She spoke to us coldly and sarcastically, offered minimal assistance and ruled with fear and intimidation. I distinctly remember a morning when the only words she spoke to us were “Do what is written on the board. Don’t ask me questions. I am not dealing with you today.” Talk about feeling uncomfortable and uncared for. Not surprisingly, I learned and remember next to nothing about Chemistry, other than the discomfort and anxiety I felt in her classroom. Although this example is extreme, there are many less dramatic experiences I have had that demonstrate the same trend. I learned very little from teachers that I did not feel some amount of care from and/or connection with.

And so arises the topic for my Genius Hour project – “In what ways can middle school teachers demonstrate care for their students?” I believe that establishing care and trust with students is the bedrock of what we should be doing as educators. Due to the extra challenges students face in adolescence, I think it is all the more important for middle school teachers to work to establish relationships based on trust and care. To appeal to a student’s mind, you first have to appeal to their heart.

I will begin looking for answers through literature and research. I will also reach out to teachers in my own life that have demonstrated care and ask them how they have gone about showing care to their students throughout the years.

Relevant accounts to follow on Twitter are the following:

@BLoveSoulPower – Dr. Love; passionate educator who is gifted in showing students from urban populations care

@Caring_teacher

‪@The_Miss_G

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑