By Any Means Human – What are yours?

Summertime is a unique time in the life of a teacher, at least in the life of this teacher.

a – it gives me time to take back my self after the non-stop of the school year.
b – it also allows for reflection on the teaching I have done and will do.
(c – and of course summer is a time for fun, without thinking about having to preserve my energy for the classroom in the morning!)

…back to the reflection…

Beyond (or before) the academic content and the tools that we teach to help students master that content is us.

Us as teachers and as people.

Who we are as humans and what things human we bring to our classrooms.

It’s our humanity that makes us unique as teachers.

So I ask, what is the human gift that you bring to your classroom (be it K-12 or conference/workshop/lecture room)? I think we all bring a whole bunch of different gifts, but I’m asking for your #1.

Think about it.

Mine? I bring calm. I’ve been told by a few students over the years that they appreciate this – “Miss, you’re so zen!” – and so I try to create more pockets of it in their lives.
How do I do this?

  • I’m consistent with my expectations and follow-up so they know what they’re getting themselves into
  • I keep my voice low – loud teacher=loud classroom
  • I smile a lot, but not like an inane ninny, just because working with kids all day is the hottest thing I know. It brings my calm to me.

I’m calling on some teachers to answer this one with me. Pass it on to others if you like by linking back here.


And, it goes without saying, if you are reading this and are somehow not on that list, sorry I left you out. Didn’t mean to, please join in!


  • Tracy says:

    Hi Greg – yes, student needs are individual, there is no arguing with that. At the same time, I think that – as we work within a classroom, within a group dynamic – we teachers bring something to the room that transcends the individual.

    Perhaps our greatest gift is the ability to shift from taking care of the group to taking care of the individual in the group when it is needed.

    (taking care = addressing the needs) (a nod to Nell Noddings’ ethic of care :) )

    Unrelenting Expectation. That needs to be written as a title, a proper noun.

  • Greg Cruey says:

    Hi Tracy,

    You ask hard questions…

    I have a few gifts. As a special education teacher I think that the answer to the question of which one is the greatest varies from child to child. Their needs are individual.

    But I spend a lot of time in a general education environment coteaching and monitoring kids that are learning in inclusions. I think that unrelenting expectation is an important personal, human attribute that I have. We can make technology interactive. We can make it respond to what students do on a keyboard. But we can’t make it communicate expectation to a child that isn’t particular motivated for some reason.


  • Tracy says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Ken. Faith that our students will succeed. Good one.

  • Tracy says:

    Hi Carl and thanks for your thoughtful comment!
    Yes, attention is so vital. Often our students – no matter their age – both don’t get attention (validation) or know how to develop their own attention (being there).

    (Anyone who quotes Sesame Street has to be doing something good … I’ll be back ;))

  • Ken Allan says:

    Kia ora Tracy.

    “Faith” is far too broad a term. In this age that word could mean any number of different things. If I’d said “science” (for I do teach Science) that too would be far too broad in its compass to have any real meaning. That’s why I prefer to say “the teacher must have faith that the student will succeed and must frequently verify this to the student.” Not just faith.

    Ka kite

    Ken Allans last blog post at on earth has happened to Google Reader?

  • Carl says:


    Firstly – thank you for stopping by my blog! Maybe I’ll be able to keep things interesting enough for you to take a peek regularly… I plan on linking you, and keeping up with your musings.

    Secondly, I was hoping you would indulge a response to your question. I just finished a two year tour as a quasi-educator at Syracuse University. I say quasi because pre-hospital emergency care doesn’t quite have all of the fancy certificates and degrees sorted out that other branches of education do – but as far as the State of New York and the American Heart Association are concerned, I get to teach others how to save a life.

    When it came to my students, I -always- did my best to bring the gift of attention. My “kids” were college-age… most of them already had a full-day of classes, other engagements, and personal affairs to contend with by the time they got to me. At that age, sometimes all you can hope to do is listen – and you’d be surprised how far it gets you.

  • Tracy says:

    @Ken – “Never doubting that some day the student will become the master is the mark of a true teacher.”

    So would you say the #1 gift you bring to the classroom is faith?

    @Scott – “What human gift do we bring to the classroom? Ultimately our students probably decide that, with each having their own answer…”

    I like that…yet at the same time it is a great way to avoid focusing on having to choose just one, eh? ;)

  • Scott McLeod says:

    Hmmm.. tough call. In my classes, I’d say either my unflagging cheeriness or my unrelenting focus on students’ needs (rather than my own). In life, it might be my willingness to challenge the status quo…

    What human gift do we bring to the classroom? Ultimately our students probably decide that, with each having their own answer…

    Scott McLeods last blog post at Age Administrator award?

  • Ken Allan says:

    Kia ora Tracy!

    All students need support, whether it is from a parent, friend, supervisor or teacher. Some students find their adolescent years to be a lonely time. It is a time when they are finding out who they are. For many it can also be an uncomfortable time when they may feel insecure. Many students can begin to doubt their abilities at this time and may have difficulty seeing the potential they have to become mature adults.

    Students may not necessarily look for support, even though they may need it. The teacher can often provide that support. To do this, the teacher must have faith that the student will succeed and must frequently verify this to the student. By never giving up on the student, the teacher assists in building their confidence, even when life for them may seem to be full of problems, failure and imperfection.

    Never doubting that some day the student will become the master is the mark of a true teacher.

    Ka kite

    Ken Allans last blog post at Conference 2008 – July 28 – 30

  • Tracy says:

    Nice one, Elona.

    Have you heard this?

    “Teaching is the greatest act of optimism. ”
    — colleen wilcox

  • Tracy,
    Good question. I think that my number one human gift that I bring to the classroom is my optimism that all my students can succeed.

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