Students want you to care, and they have developed a sense of whether or not a teacher truly cares based upon their prior experiences with adults in and out of school. Researchers Jamia M. Thomas-Richmond and M. Caroline O’Quinn conducted a study to determine student’s perceptions of caring and respect. They published their findings in the article How Will They Know You Care? Advice for Preservice Teachers Based Upon Children’s Perceptions of Caring and Respect (Southeastern Regional Association of Teacher Educators Journal, Summer 2018, Volume 27, Number 2). Based upon their findings, teachers who care exhibit the following:
- They know their students and want to know them. Students in the study indicate that teachers who care look at them, respond to them, ask questions, speak in calm tones, and treat them with dignity.
- They provide academic support. Students in the study indicate that teachers who care respond to their questions, provide them with assistance, and help them find the answers they need while being nice to them.
- They only discipline students to support learning, listening carefully to both sides of the story. Students in the study indicate that teachers who care listen to both sides of the story when there are problems among the students and they don’t just discipline the same children over and over.
- They show respect for students and their families. Students in the study indicate that teachers who care speak respectfully to them and their family members in all situations. Students indicated that teachers who care call home to share good things that are going on in the classrooms and not just the bad things.
- They care about families’ financial situations and notice their students’ needs. Students in the study indicate that teachers who care provided everything from pencils and papers to field trip money to clothing when needed. If teachers didn’t directly provide these items, they found others (whether in the school or in the community) who would provide for these needs.
Students are keen observers of adults in schools. They want the adults to be a positive influence in their lives. As you plan for next week, think about how these indicators of care and respect are playing out in your classroom. You and your students will be glad you took the time to do so!