Any teacher who has ever been accused of not caring about kids will be incensed at the accusation. But how can you really tell if a teacher truly does care?
A teacher who cares about kids will get to know the kids personally. The teacher will talk to kids about their weekend, their vacations, their siblings, their pets, their schoolwork in all classes, ask to see pictures, go to sporting events and academic contests, chaperone dances and field trips, and just sit and talk with the kids when given the opportunity. Likewise, a teacher who cares about kids will share the same details about his/her life. Obviously, this all needs to be done in an appropriate way and taking the kids’ ages into consideration. But the bottom line is that a teacher who cares about kids takes the time to know kids personally and lets the kids know him or her personally, too.
A teacher who cares about kids will take the time to understand how the kids in his or her class learn. This is done in so many ways – surveys, observations, discussions. A teacher who cares about kids wants to understand how the students learn so that he or she can be effective at his or her job.
A teacher who cares about kids will do his or her job well. In order to do the job well, that requires extra time and effort beyond the classroom in the form of course work, conferences, workshops, reading, webinars. A teacher who cares about kids will stay on top of what is happening n the world of education and consider how those events impact his or her students. Sometimes this requires a teacher to be out of his or her classroom. Please don’t ever assume that if a teacher is gone for a day or two that it means that teacher is blowing off his or her job. It is quite possible that the teacher has to be gone for a day in order to work on professional development. What happens when that teacher returns to the classroom the next day can be magical! The teacher is rejuvenated and inspired to try the new things he or she learned in the conference or workshop. This ultimately benefits the kids. Teachers will continue their learning because they care about kids’ learning.
A teacher who cares about kids doesn’t just do things out of the goodness of his or her heart. I know that sounds contrary to caring. But hear me out. Teaching is a job; it’s really more of a profession, a calling. Yes, teachers could do their job for free or for little pay, but what happens when teachers work that way? They become jaded and burned out. Then kids suffer. It’s not really greed that drives teachers to expect to be paid for their work. It’s actually for the benefit of the students. Teachers who work hard for their kids because they care about them should expect to be paid for their work. It inspires and ensures a level of dedication and professionalism in their work that ultimately benefits the students. When teachers are not treated like professionals, then they don’t have the expectation that they should act like professionals, so they end up being unprofessional. Being compensated for their work inspires teachers to continue doing their job well. Teachers who work beyond their pay (meaning they are underpaid, which is many teachers) do so willingly – to a point. There comes a point where a teacher just can’t sacrifice his or her sanity, health, happiness, or family any more than he or she already has. Please don’t interpret this as not caring about kids. It is really about valuing the profession so much that the teacher can’t give anymore without compromising the integrity of the job.