Building an Ethic of Caring in the Classroom: 5 Protocols for Promoting a Caring Classroom

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Check out the first post of the series HERE.

The temperature we set in our classroom matters. While the literal thermostat in a classroom does matter (“Why is it so hot in here?”), the thermostat I am writing about is the instructional climate we set for our students, which I believe should be challenging but comfortable—where challenges can be taken on in a caring, trustworthy space. How we do this comes in many forms, and I would argue context, of course, matters. But I would also argue there are few actions any teacher can take to create a caring classroom that students want to enter every day. This shouldn’t surprise us, but really, it always goes back to good ol’ Maslow. In today’s post, I explore a few practical protocols any teacher can put into motion tomorrow in his or her classroom. Continue reading

Building an Ethic of Caring in the Classroom: Throw Fear Away

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Welcome to the very first in a series dedicated to foregrounding love in lesson planning and instruction for building more caring classrooms. I realize that someone who just read that first sentence may have been immediately turned off by my use of the word “love.” Love is a big, complicated, and even messy concept that we know even the Greeks wrestled with as they needed at least four different words to try and capture its multiplicitous meaning. The love I am attempting to depict in this series is a love we commit out of inclination; we are urged from within to aid, help, be kind, and express care towards others. My hope is that expression of love is exactly what we want to convey to our students and that we would want a teacher to express to our own children.

While future posts will rotate their themes and focus, each going forward will have some practical, ready-to-implement learning experience you can use. The only exception will be posts that bring former students’ perspectives together for the sake of discussion. Today I am sharing one of the first experiences I developed for students well before I became a researcher, and I was simply seeking to better connect my students to the potentially extraordinary learning experience they could have in my classroom. I never named the experience, but I feel for the sake of making it a useful tool for others, I am calling it “Throw Fear Away.” Continue reading

New Series: Building an Ethic of Caring in the Classroom

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Starting this week, I will launch a weekly series that focuses directly on practical strategies on building a caring and supportive classroom for teachers. My goal is to equip teachers to build positive, meaningful relationship with and among their students with the implicit goal of support students’ academic performance and socio-emotional needs. The activities, projects, and group work strategies will largely pull from research I have done, but will also pull in personal experiences, including the voices of some of my former students. The series will explore identity, agency, literacy, policy, and related topics that impact teaching and learning. Really, if this series develops as I hope it does, then a teacher following the series should build a strong repository of classroom strategies and hopefully build on their capacity to reflect on their own teaching practices, which should hopefully embed an ethic of caring in much of what they do.

The series will truly be meant for all subject-area teachers and not just a language arts or humanities teacher. Each post will use Nel Noddings’ theory for an ethic of caring as a foundation, where rather than “only those acts performed out of duty (in conformity to principle) should be labeled moral, an ethic of caring prefers acts done out of love and natural inclination.”

Love and inclination, or a person’s natural tendency or urge to act, I posit, should be the universal foundation for any classroom–no matter the teacher, no matter the subject. This series will explore that possibility.

Look for these posts every Wednesday starting August 15th.

Have something specific about foregrounding love and care in the classroom you want discussed? Reach out to me on Twitter and share your thoughts! @theprofjones