I remember when I first read an article by Nel Noddings four years ago about her principle/philosophy of an ethics of care. I remember thinking, “Wow! I know this, I have experienced this and I believe this works well in building student-teacher relationships”. I believe that in my last 2-3 years of tertiary teaching in Canada (after I had my first child) I had a personal focus on modeling caring, engaging in dialogue about caring, encouraged students to care and over time this practice of care was confirmed through trust and respect. It is not surprising therefore that I have kept in contact with some of those students from those last years of my tertiary teaching career.
I have posted before about the difficulty in practicing an ethics of care while on short professional practical experiences and this is one of the reasons why I am not applying for short-term casual teaching work at this time. Casual teachers are needed, they are important, but I don’t believe I can make any impact on a child’s life if I see them for only short periods of time. You see, I care about my impact on a child’s learning and also on their life. I want adults to look back on their formal education and think, “Elke Schneider was one of the good teachers, she actually seemed to care about me as an individual”. I have not yet met one person who can count more than 5 good teachers in their past. I have only had 3-4 good teachers that I can remember!
During my recent internship I have heard so many teachers & admin-staff say “I don’t care” when referring to things about student learning, student issues with parking, students who get behind in work, pedagogical suggestions that I make, whether they’d like to receive my reflections, the list goes on… I hear colleagues put each other down behind their backs, heads of departments tell teachers to shut up, teachers looking/sounding miserable about having to teach, teachers looking for transfers or jobs outside of teaching, teachers that say they do critical thinking, differentiation & ICTs but don’t actually do it in practice etc. This negative culture is so embedded that I am not sure if they are even aware of it! For an intern or prac student I find this culture to be non supportive and uncaring. These types of working environments may be one of the reasons why many teachers leave the profession early. I may not even have the choice to leave early since my area is not even doing ranking interviews anymore ~ doesn’t matter that everyone for 4 YEARS have told me “we need you!”
Sadly, I believe some teachers have forgotten who their customers are = the students; our future working citizens!