Recently Carol Ann Tomlinson wrote a piece in Educational Leadership entitled One to Grow On /The Caring Teacher’s Manifesto (2015).
The premise of this piece is that often educators talk about caring about our students. Teachers, administrators, and counselors form relationships with students and over time take a vested interest in student’s lives and their futures. However, Tomlinson argues in her article that caring for our students is not enough. If we really care about our students then we must also care for our students.
To care for our students means that we, as educators, should make intentional efforts to teach and embed within our students the skills they need when they move on from our educational institutions. As Tomlinson puts it, “Caring for students implies the intent to see to each student’s welfare and positive development. It calls for pedagogical action, for ‘doing’” (2015). That “doing” is what can be done in the classroom by teachers. The doing is linked to pedagogical action not just our daily interactions. Because the need to care for students is linked to pedagogy, educators should think about and plan on how to intentionally weave into instruction and assessment the skills that will enhance positive development.
When I read this my mind was blown. When the dust settled and I pulled myself together I wondered to myself why I had never thought of this nor really heard of this before. In my mind caring for and caring about students were synonyms, rather than separate actions. The interconnectedness between caring about our students and caring for our students is an essential link. If we truly care about our students and wish them academic and social- emotional success, then we must care for them as well. I realized that I needed a game plan.
I have started to think about what I can do to care for my students in an intentional way. What I have determined is that my caring for students needs to be the foundation of my practice and linked to the daily routines in the class and other school based settings. In searching for the essential elements of caring for our students I reflected on the IB’s approaches to learning and teaching in the DP. The approaches to learning and teaching framework provided clearly defined and tangible ways that educators can care for their students.
The IB has identified five essential skills for their ATL skills.
I see the incorporation of these skills into everyday teaching as an excellent way to care for our students. To me the ATL skills are all life-skills that will be applied during a variety of stages of a student development — not only academically but also socially and professional. These are the skills that students will rely on to aid them in successfully navigating the world. We, as educators, should stress to our students the transferability of these skills from context to context and teach students how to adapt these skills to different situations. By using the ATL skills as a guiding framework on intentionally caring for students I believe, “I’ll help students value and contribute to a classroom in which everyone works together responsibly with the goal of becoming more fully human together” (Tomlinson, 2015). Shouldn’t this be the goal of any educator?
International Baccalaureate (2015) Approaches to Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from https://xmltwo.ibo.org/publications/DP/Group0/d_0_dpatl_gui_1502_1/static/dpatl/index.html
Tomlinson, C.A. (2015). One to grow on/The caring teachers manifesto. Educational Leadership, 72. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar15/vol72/num06/The-Caring-Teacher’s-Manifesto.aspx