Teachers who care show concern for students’ emotional and academic well-being. They develop supportive, personalized relationships with students, cultivate an emotionally safe environment, and respond consistently to students’ social, emotional, and academic learning needs.
Message to Students:
“Your success and well-being matter to me in a serious way.”
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Sample Student Survey Items
(for different grade levels)
- I like the way my teacher treats me when I need help.
- My teacher in this class makes me feel that he/she really cares about me.
- My teacher seems to know if something is bothering me.
Indicators of an Exemplary Classroom
Teachers effectively demonstrate care through practices like these:
The teacher actively develops positive relationships with all students.
- The teacher is courteous, respectful, and fair with all students.
- The teacher shows sincere interest in students’ lives.
- The teacher pays attention to students as individuals.
Addressing learning needs
The teacher commits to monitoring and responding to students learning needs.
- The teacher maintains an intellectually and emotionally safe environment.
- The teacher consistently provides assistance as needed.
- The teacher fosters a culture that encourages students to seek and accept help.
Consider these questions as you reflect on your classroom practice:
- What expectations and routines do you establish to create an intellectually and emotionally safe environment?
- What type of language and tone do you use when…
- Offering students encouragement?
- Trying to help students improve their behavior?
- Commenting on students’ work?
- How often do you show interest in students’ extracurricular activities and lives outside school?
- How do you incorporate opportunities for students to share their personal experiences, interests, and concerns?
- How do you respond when students seem sad or upset?
- How do you respond when students want to talk about issues they are facing unrelated to your class?
- How do you customize support based on students’ specific learning needs?
- How do you show sensitivity and express encouragement when a student seems frustrated or ready to give up?
Try implementing teaching strategies like these in your classroom:
- Check in with students privately if they seem upset and kindly ask if something is bothering them.
- Ask students to write you a “Dear Teacher” letter in which they share suggestions for helping them learn better.
- Greet students personally when they walk into the classroom.
- Test your assumptions about students’ motivations, especially when you perceive that a student is not trying or has intentionally done something wrong. Be careful not to assume that your critical perceptions of students are correct.
We’ve curated a set of teaching resources for Care. As you set goals and pursue professional learning opportunities, use these resource collections to access additional strategies, tools, and examples of effective practices in action.
Care: Building Relationships
Teachers who care show concern for students’ emotional and academic well-being. They develop supportive, personalized relationships with students, cultivate an emotionally safe environment, and respond consistently to students’ social, emotional, and academic learning needs. Find resources offering classroom strategies that support the practice of actively developing positive relationships with all students.
Acknowledgments / Cheers / Closingswww.originsonline.org/acknowledgments-cheers-closings#all This collection of activities offers a variety of ways to encourage positive communications and interactions among students, which can help to create a safe and supportive learning environment for everyone. The menu includes a variety of simple community-building activities designed to build positive classroom culture, which are easy to …
Educational Leadership: Relationships First: What to Do in Week One?
Responding to Defiance in the Moment | Responsive Classroom
Talking Circles: For Restorative Justice and Beyond | Teaching Tolerance – Diversity, Equity and Justicewww.tolerance.org/blog/talking-circles-restorative-justice-and-beyond This teacher’s blog post explains how she uses Talking Circles in a variety of ways to build relationships, establish a safe and respectful learning environment, and check for understanding. She describes how she establishes norms and how she uses circles weekly in her advisory meeting and during her reading …
The Power of Positive Relationshipswww.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/ClassroomManagement/ClassDet/TabId/183/ArtMID/787/ArticleID/185/The-Power-of-Positive-Relationships.aspx This article offers general suggestions for building positive relationships with and among students and specific strategies for putting them into practice in the classroom. The list includes recommendations related to clarifying expectations, getting to know students individually, and holding their attention during instruction …
Critical Practices for Anti-Bias Education: Classroom Culture
7 Tips for Building Positive Relationships with English-Language Learners
Social Contract, Proactive Discipline Help Science Students and their Teacherwww.originsonline.org/newsletters/winter-2012-dd/social-contract-proactive-discipline-help-science-students-and-their In this article, a middle school science teacher explains her success in shifting from a reactive to a proactive approach to discipline and how establishing positive relationships can help to maintain a smoothly functioning classroom. Beginning the school year by surveying students about their learning needs and developing a …
Building a Positive, Trusting Classroom Environment
Tricks of the Trade: Classroom Management Tips for Teachers (Video Playlist)
Using Dialogue Circles to Support Classroom Management
Helping Troubled Students, One Relationship at a Time
Morning Meetings: Creating a Safe Space for Learningwww.edutopia.org/practice/morning-meetings-creating-safe-space-learning This video and accompanying article explain and illustrate how morning meeting routines can help to create a safe environment for learning, including suggested structure and sample activities. Featured teachers demonstrate how they show concern for students’ emotional well-being and offer helpful tips to help build rapport in the classroom …
Why Restorative Practices Benefit All Studentswww.edutopia.org/blog/why-restorative-practices-benefit-all-students-maurice-elias In this brief interview, a research scientist explains the negative impact of stress and punitive disciplinary measures on students and urges teachers to use preventive restorative practices with all students. The approach described helps to foster students’ self-management skills and build a greater sense of community in order to …
Creating Community All Day Longwww.originsonline.org/newsletters/winter-2009-dd-0/creating-community-all-day-long In this article, a teacher recommends several strategies for building relationships with students and inviting their input on classroom activities. She makes a good case for why investing time in developing positive relationships and building community promotes engagement and assists with classroom management, and she shares some practical strategies …
Building a Classroom Culture of Trust and Collaboration
Challenge at the Heart of Deeper Learning: Teaching Channel Deeper Learning Series
Educational Leadership: Getting Personalization Right: Student Engagement: Key to Personalized Learningwww.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar17/vol74/num06/Student-Engagement@-Key-to-Personalized-Learning.aspx This insightful article provides an excellent overview of key elements of intrinsic motivation and explains what teachers can do to cultivate student engagement and agency. It includes strategies for designing learning experiences that promote autonomy, relatedness, competence, and relevance, which empower students to take ownership of their learning within …
Care: Addressing Learning Needs
Teachers who care show concern for students’ emotional and academic well-being. They develop supportive, personalized relationships with students, cultivate an emotionally safe environment, and respond consistently to students’ social, emotional, and academic learning needs. Find resources offering classroom strategies that support the practice of committing to monitoring and responding to students’ learning needs.