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They Don't Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care

It isn't clear who actually said this first. What is more important, though, is the message it offers us.

The truth found in this message applies to all of us, but it is even more important for the young. A baby, for example, can not even understand the words you are saying. But a baby, just like a child, or a teenager, can understand how you feel. And they can sense when the feel cared about.

If they do feel cared about, then a strong connection is made through which knowledge can be transferred smotthly.

Article by a Substitute Teacher

Article by a Substitute Teacher

People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Everyone from Teddy Roosevelt to John C. Maxwell has been attributed with coining the phrase above. It’s been repeated often enough to become a well-known truism, especially in education. After working in a high school classroom for over two months, I now realize why it’s so often said.

A couple of weeks ago, I finished my stint as a high school teacher and lived to tell about it. In retrospect, it seems a surreal experience. Did I really teach high school for over two months? Me?

Well, yes, I did, as the pictures found here will confirm.

I learned a heck of a lot—about teaching, myself, and the kids. I learned how much I don’t know and that teaching is hard work. It also had rewarding moments.

Here are a few memories that stand out:

The girl who entered my classroom every day downcast and complaining about a variety of physical ailments. I learned that her mother had had a massive heart attack a year ago and her father lives in a nearby town with his girlfriend. My student has no contact with her father; she said they don’t get along. After several conversations, I learned that she was worried that her mom would have another heart attack and that there would be no one left to care for her and her younger brother. I spent a lot of time trying to encourage her.

The Latino student who continually paid me compliments. One day he told me that I had “nicely shaped eyebrows.” That was a first for me. “Uh . . . . thank you,” I replied. He asked, “Do you wax them?” “No.” “Oh, I get mine waxed at such-and-such place,” he offered. (I’ve since learned about the male eyebrow grooming ritual called “manscaping.”). Another day he remarked on the color of my shirt and that it looked nice on me. (No, he wasn’t another Eddie Haskell—that was an entirely different student.).

When he didn’t come to class one day, I made sure to ask him where he was when I saw him again. “Well, I’m not going to lie to you, Ms. Chrysler. I was with my girlfriend. She was having an ultrasound.” “Oh, I see,” I said as I thought about what to say next. “Yeah, she’s pregnant,” he added, “But I’m gonna stick with her through this thing.”

We had a talk about responsibility and I tried to encourage him by saying that, although life was going to be hard for awhile, he could get through this. He held out his clenched hand to knock his knuckles against mine and said, “Ms. Chrysler, you’re LE-GIT.” I have to admit that his friendly demeanor was a welcome change from some of the more surly students, even if I did have to tell him to ‘clean up your language’ one too many times. The last day of class, he extended the ultimate compliment: “Ms. Chrysler, I probably shouldn’t say this, but . . . you’re a BADASS!” High praise indeed.

The young Latino in my Sales & Marketing class who was barely passing, although it wasn’t for lack of effort. I could tell that he wanted to do well. I had been instructed to give him verbal directions when assigning projects, since he couldn’t read as well as most of the others. A week before graduation, I learned that his father was dying of a brain tumor and that he and his brother would miss school that week. However, he very much wanted to graduate. After consulting with his counselor, I excused him from the final project and exam. He squeaked by and was able to graduate just days after his father passed away. I was touched when he came to class that week and asked me to sign his annual. He told me that he wanted to be an auto mechanic and open his own shop one day. My heart ached for him. I hope he achieves his dream.

It is true—kids really don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.