Awarded a Degree In Caring

“An army’s success depends on its size, equipment and experience, and morale…and morale is worth more than all the other elements combined”

Napolean

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When I first went to university I entered under a degree in Mathematics and Computer Engineering. I really wanted to always be a teacher but I also had a great love for mathematics, and computer programming was so attractive. So what made me become a teacher and my clear answer was “I wanted to make a difference”. Yes, it is cliche but it is true. But what does that mean…making a difference?

Over the years, it has come to mean many things to me and all, in some way, demonstrate a form of caring. Caring for the students’ welfare; their learning; their self; their families; their emotions and so on. But caring is more than that. It has been said that “Caring teachers listen and are responsive “(Noddings, 2003) and this is an extensive ask to  expect from someone ie teacher with a room full of needs, expressed and inferred. Each student will have needs that they have formed (expressed)  and you, their teacher will also have needs (inferred) that you believe are required or are formed by “higher education institutions”. Caring for those needs is a role only for those who give value to the behaviours and outcomes achieved by teaching this way.

But what if we change the roles here to include two different parties and that being leaders in an educational setting and teachers / staff.  Are there many differences? What makes for a caring leader? I would suggest that the role of the leader is to support their staff to reach goals; to explore their capabilities, to attain trust in their abilities and to a develop cells of community engagement and well being. Some would advocate these qualities and consider them to be “intrinsically motivating” (Maslow and Dewey) and leading to “greater things”.

A caring leader would encourage divergent thinking and teaching. A caring leader would nurture and encourage mistakes for “the greater educational good”. A caring leader would create more leaders within their own staff so that at any one point in time a leader may step to the side, another colleague could just easily step into the role of leader.

A caring leader is not an advocate for shaming; degrading; ordering or inflicting expectations. A caring leader is not a spectator of teachers but a co-worker. Caring leaders are learners themselves on a daily basis. Caring leaders still strive to attain curriculum aims but are encouraging of conversations that frequent the discussions on what makes an aim possible and needed.  Caring leaders are not just about mandating practices but encouraging conversations between staff members and students.

In an educational environment the role of a caring leader, that is a listening and responsive leader, will continue to determine the culture and practices of its inhabitants

So, overall, being awarded a certification in teaching / education is to teach and to educate. Being awarded in Educational Leadership is to lead in the possibilities for these teachers and students with a listening and responsive, that is a caring, manner.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Awarded a Degree In Caring

  1. Mandy Christoe

    Great read Rita! Today I’m studying and thinking about framing 3 research questions one of which is around educational change in early years school settings. I was thinking about organizational leadership and initiatives as part of the question and your article popped up. Thanks! Hope you are going well, best wishes Mandy

  2. fin

    Hi Mandy, I am well, thank you. A research project around such formative years can only be a good thing. Hope the article was of some small help. Good to see your name pop up! Rita

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