I’m Here to Listen, I’m Here to Care

In a recent series of interviews, Amy Nystrand, Program Director of the Educators’ Cooperative asked members, “How do you hope those you teach and support describe you?”  Our responses from Chris Collins, Integrated Math teacher at Hume Fogg Academic Magnet, and Ada Collins, Math Coach at Tusculum Elementary, remind us that it is most important to show you care.  

Over time, school communities become families.  Our students are our “kids” and our colleagues are like cousins.  We don’t always get along, but we care and support endlessly nonetheless.  And when we walk away at the end of the day it is care and support that we hope linger in the air.  

This became clear during some recent conversations with two EdCo members.  It isn’t that we are the wisest or that we have all of the answers that we want those around us to know, when asked, “How do you hope those you teach and support describe you?” it went far deeper than that. 

To Chris Collins, a high school math teacher, he didn’t skip a beat when saying he hoped his students knew that he cared. “I hope they describe me as someone who generally cares more about them as a person than about their grade or their performance in my class,” he said. “That I don’t ever discount them.”  It was important to him that his students know that performance doesn’t matter, even though academic success has come to define schooling, instead it’s more important that they know he does not discount who they are.  

Ada Collins, Math Coach at Tusculum Elementary, had a similar answer when it came to the adults that she serves.  It wasn’t about having the right answer or looking in charge, instead it was about making sure they knew she was there to listen and to serve them.  “I like to really listen and feel the vibe of what’s going on, and how the teachers feel about a certain situation, before providing a solution.”  

As teachers in charge of influencing young lives there is often a pressure to have all the answers, but that pressure doesn’t overtake what truly matters.  What matters is that the students we teach know they matter, at the core of who they are, and that the adults we serve know we are there to listen first, to hear them out, before offering help.  We care. We’re listening.  It’s who we are.

The Educators’ Cooperative is a non-profit organization that provides a professional learning community for K-12 teachers. Created for teachers by teachers in 2016, EdCo provides professional development and support for educators to collaborate across sectors, disciplines, and career stages. EdCo aims to revolutionize teacher development and leadership by focusing on the essential agency, autonomy, and common ground all teachers share. EdCo is based in Nashville, Tennessee with a reach far beyond that physical location and potential for replication in communities throughout the nation. When educators collaborate, the future of education is greater than the sum of its parts.   Please visit educatorscooperative.com for more information and to sign up for our newsletter.

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