By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Middle School South teacher Tim Jones believes there is more to teaching than “just showing up.”
“Students are human beings and school is not an assembly line. The process can’t be emotionless,” said Jones. “Teachers must be caring and compassionate. But it’s not about being warm and fuzzy. Caring is hard work.”
Jones poured his 30 years of teaching experience and philosophy of caring and compassionate teaching into his new book, “The Caring Teacher: Using Compassion to Connect With Kids,” published by Outskirts Press.
The book contains information on how to apply a caring approach to homework, grading, discipline, state testing as well as increasing parental involvement. It also outlines the qualities of what makes a caring teacher, which include treating students fairly rather than each in the same way, having high expectations for themselves and students, demonstrating kindness, and teaching students to be respectful and positive to others.
To illustrate his ideas, Jones describes examples from his own experiences as well as instructional anecdotes about people in today’s culture, such as late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel and journalist Anderson Cooper, as well as fictional characters like Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“The book is for anyone who does anything in the educational field and also for parents who will find it useful. Education all starts at home. Parents are mentors and teachers as well,” said Jones.
Jones said caring teachers make themselves available to talk to parents.
“Many parents work two jobs and cannot attend scheduled teacher conferences,” said Jones. “Teachers should adjust and do what they can to meet with parents.”
For example, Jones made a DVD to give to parents to share information with them about students. He said it’s all about giving a little extra.
“Caring teachers want their students to succeed,” said Jones. “Do whatever additional things you can to connect with students.”
Jones said, for students in his special education class, he taped lists of writing and math steps to their desks to help them remember what factors and procedures they need to incorporate into their academic work.
In regards to discipline, Jones said teachers must look at the full picture and experiences surrounding a student.
“Those things matter,” said Jones. “It’s important to know a student’s background and circumstances before disciplining them. There’s a reason for the behavior.”
Jones said it is vital for teachers to reach out and let students know they are interested in what they are doing, such as attending athletic events or concerts where students are performing.
“It means a lot for kids to look up and see one of their teachers there supporting them,” said Jones.
Jones said the pressures in the modern educational world of ever growing state requirements, standardization and cultural changes are stressful on students and teachers.
“But students do respond to teachers who invest extra time in them and show they care,” said Jones.
Jones is available to speak to groups and organizations about his book. He can be reached at email@example.com. Visit outskirtspress.com for information about the book, which he said will be available in January.