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They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

I read this in Sports Illustrated a long time ago. It was attributed to the women’s soccer coach from North Carolina. It struck a chord with me, and I’ve tried to use this philosophy teaching. I make it a point to learn every kid’s name by the end of the first week of school. I can tell you something personal about each kid I teach by the end of the first nine weeks, their hobbies, where they work, something I can talk to them about that isn’t school. I’m not trying to brag here, I’ve just found that a kid will pay attention to someone who pays attention to them.

I have a girl in my 7th period class that missed three days in a row at the beginning of the year. When I called home to check on what was up her sister told me she was in the hospital. She didn’t give me any details and I didn’t push. When TrumpetGirl (another shout-out to Ms. H, I’m gonna start naming my kids like she does…) came back to school I asked her if everything was ok. She got pissy about it and kept asking me why I was asking. I told her I care about my students. She was skeptical and told me I was full of it. I didn’t push it. For a few weeks we had a dialouge going about whether I cared or not. She really thought I was full of crap when I told her once that I pray for each of them by name at least once a week.

As the year has passed on she has come to believe that I care. She has shared her feelings when her boyfriend broke up with her, we talked a lot when her grandmother passed. She has shared her excitement when she started going out with her current boyfriend. I know she thinks her dad is too strict and her mom doesn’t care.

This morning she came in at 7:00 to make up a test she had missed. Before she started the test she asked if I had a couple of minutes, she needed to talk. I told her of course. She said, “I think I have breast cancer. My boobs hurt all the time and I think I have a lump.”

Well hell.

Luckily there was another kid in the room, over in the corner. He couldn’t hear the conversation, but at least I wasn’t alone. I don’t think she’s the kind that would set me up, but I don’t ever want to be in that position in the first place.

I asked her about family history, I told her this could be an early symptom of pregnancy (I got an eye-roll on that one; Mary had a baby, but I don’t think I’m gonna be the second miracle birth). I told her at 15 she probably didn’t have anything to worry about, but she should see a doctor if she is concerned. She didn’t want to say anything to her parents, they won’t understand, they won’t listen to me, they won’t… I finally told her that since I’m a man, she probably needed to talk to a woman. She told me there is a female teacher she would feel comfortable talking to, so I wrote a quick pass and she went out the door.

6th period I have her boyfriend in class. He came in and asked if I had a minute…

I’m glad the kids feel like they can talk to me. I’m glad I can help where I can. Some days though I wish I was like the guy down the hall who they are all afraid of.

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3 Comments

  1. Amen to that. As much as I love my kiddos, there are days where I REALLY don’t want to hear anybody’s drama. I want to tell them, “This is the face of Not Caring. Please move along.” I don’t actually tell them that…cuz that would be rude…but I sure do think it very, very loudly.

  2. You are the teacher THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE..your the reason people go into teaching to be like you…good on you keep on keepin on Zman sends

  3. Liar 🙂


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