FIRST THREE WAYS to Show Students that You Care
TEACHERS CARE--No. One
Smile. I’ll never forget the day early in my career that a student asked me, “Mrs. Longoria, why are you mad? You always look mad.” What a shock that question was to me! I was at my happiest at school. I asked why the student thought I was mad, and she said, “You’re always frowning.” Well, it certainly made perfect sense—after all, people who are frowning are often mad.
But the fact was that I was rarely if ever angry at school. I was, however, almost always deep in thought, and you guessed it, I habitually frowned when I was thinking so deeply.
From that moment on, I have made it a habit to smile as I walk down the hall, greet students I see with a smile and save the frowns for when I truly am angry, sad or alone concentrating. I wanted students to know I was not MAD.
Plastering a smile on my face lead to unexpected consequences—when I had a difficult patch, I still put that smile on my face, and it nearly always made ME feel better! Plus, it helped me lower the shields of my introverted ways.
I’m not advocating that you smile at inappropriate times. We just need to make sure that we don’t make it a habit to walk around looking aloof, angry or unapproachable. Reaching students requires us to lower our shields just as much as it requires them to lower theirs. A smile shows you are kind and approachable.
SMILE! That’s NUMBER ONE! J
TEACHERS CARE--No. Two
Show up. If you sign up to teach, then be there, be in the moment, be prepared. Put aside the emails, the cell phone, your life worries, your plans.
Live the lessons with your students. Pay attention to how they are solving problems, understanding, thinking, exploring and learning. Keep up with who knows what. Offer differentiation so students are not bored or overwhelmed.
Plan lessons that are rich in content and that are worth paying attention to. Share your excitement. There is nothing so wonderful as a teacher who is excited about learning.
SHOW UP. That’s NUMBER TWO.
TEACHERS CARE--No. Three
Listen. Teaching requires us to understand our students, to know “where they are coming from.” They spend the better portion of their awake hours in our care, so if something is a bit different about them, we often are the first to observe it. That places teachers in the position of being the ones children will share with.
Children share with us through conversations, writing and actions. I find that often they need someone to hear what’s on their heart. I listen when they talk to me, when they write and when they act.
Listening has its high points—happy news, beautiful plans, surprises, gratitude and enduring admiration. While it is a joy to share those happy times, listening can be one of the most difficult ways to show you care.
Over the years, I’ve heard many stories I wish had never touched my students’ lives. I’ve had to make referrals to children’s protective services, call police, tell parents their child is considering suicide, and carry students’ sadness on my heart. But the silver lining is that many times, listening leads to being able to find help.
LISTEN. That’s No. THREE.
SHOW YOU CARE-- 22 MORE WAYS!
Certainly, there are an infinite number of ways to show you care. Many are not nearly as deep as smiling, showing up and listening. Yet, every time you show you care in even the simplest way, there’s a ripple effect of unexpected consequences. You are “paying it forward.” You are building connections and rapport not only with the recipient but with others as well. It becomes a part of who the students see you as—you are that teacher who REALLY cares—because you REALLY do!
Other random, small ways I’ve shown I care that don’t involve candy and that have made a difference:
4. Given my pen or pencil
5. Complimented manicure
6. Inquired where to buy something they have that I like
7. Complimented/asked about artwork they were doing in my non-art class
8. Inquired about their reading selection—What’s it about? Is it a good read?
9. Acknowledged when a student felt bad and allowed them to rest
10. Help a student get organized to work (non-judgmentally)
11. Provided gentle reminders of rules/task with a smile
12. Attended church when invited by a student
13. Watched their performances
14. Allowed students to call home from my phone
15. Waited for their rides home
16. Helped them track down late buses
17. Shared my snack
18. Bought lunch
19. Provided a sweater
20. Admired babies
21. Brought clothes
22. Helped in student productions
23. Connected them to helpers/services
24. Tutored kids I don’t teach
25. Provided a quiet place to compose self
How have you shown your students that you care? Please share with us below!
The more the merrier!