Are easily identifiable.
In my current role I, rather luckily, get to see many of them in action and there is one thing they all have in common.
They demonstrate genuine care.
In each instance, this care is made apparent in different ways.
I could see it in one teacher through their insistence on students displaying industry standards of behaviour and nothing less would be accepted. This teacher genuinely cared that these students were given the opportunity to enter the industry at a high level; not just as a result of their skills but as a result of the attitudes they’d developed. These would be the kind of students who had developed the potential to become Michelin starred chefs.
I could see it in another teacher through the continual focus on students’ wellbeing as well as their studies; fully in the possession of the knowledge that if they felt more ‘well’ and more able to share when they weren’t, the learning would take place.
I could see it in another through their willingness to adapt their practice to ensure the success of their students. They were willing to abandon their preferred way of doing things and their beliefs about what works in favour of more evidence-based approaches to see the effect on their students’ learning.
But the one place their genuine care is most evident?
In the relationships they have with their students.
Of the numerous educators I have known, worked with, and observed; the best ones have incredibly strong relationships with their students. This does not mean there’s laughter and smiles all round at all times but their genuine care drives their actions to positively impact the students’ learning experience.
If a student is challenged on their behaviour then it is out of genuine care for them and their success.
When feedback is given on their progress, it is done in such a way that demonstrates genuine care for them improving their work.
A climate is created that, as Mary Myatt puts it, leads to high challenge and low threat. No one is made to feel like a muppet. A learning environment filled with genuine care is one in which no one is ever humiliated or made to feel stupid. This is a safe environment filled with praise, challenge pitched at the right level, feedback (and plenty of it too!).
The relationship between student and teacher is a valuable one. For the best teachers, this is a relationship not built on ego, Ofsted or a misplaced sense of duty.
It is a relationship not built on anything other than genuine care.