Make Me Care

Andrew Stanton’s line, “The greatest story commandment is: Make me care.” stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it almost a year ago.

I was on my way to working with a couple of teachers in another area of Quebec and had a long drive ahead of me, so I plugged in my phone and listened to a podcast I had been saving for just such an opportunity – from NPRs TED Radio Hour, Framing the Story. Listen to it to hear what Andrew says about storytelling.


Grant Wiggins writes:

…a course must seem coherent and meaningful from the learner’s perspective. There must be a narrative, if you will; there must be a throughline; there must be engaging and stimulating inquiries and performances that provide direction, priorities, and incentives. (What is a course?)

This is true at any level, in any industry. Whether working with students or professionals – learning will happen, learning will be meaningful – when I care about the story you have to tell and can fold it into my own.


Make me care – say all learners to all teachers.

When they are skipping class, doing the minimum to pass, avoiding work, avoiding professional development opportunities – somehow we have not made our material something they care about. Sometimes it is beyond our control – other stories in their lives have prominence.

For me, I strive to make you care about what I have to teach.


The truth about stories are that that’s what we are ~ Thomas King


(Oh – and to my students – you don’t need to make me care. I already do.)

Is integrating technology still the goal?

A short while ago I began a discussion on LinkedIn asking if people agreed with my statement that integrating technology was not the goal. The comments were rich, if you are a member of TIE (Technology in Education) at LinkedIn, go ahead and read the comments. So many good thoughts.

I thought I’d open it up for discussion here as well.


Do you agree with my statement that integrating technology is not the goal?

I talk about it in more detail in this little video created for DevPro – a professional development project initiated by consultants Marc-André Lalande and Avi Spector that aims at flipping PD for Quebec’s English sector adult education teachers.

Respectful guidance

In everything. We can’t go around trying to do new things without someone to guide us. And we can’t go around asking people to try to do new things without ensuring the guidance is there for them: guidance that is offered in a way that respects us as learners, as people.

challenge me to stand on my own but remain close so I know you’re there if I need you

There is nothing worse than to walk into a classroom and see students scrambling to ‘get’ what it is they are supposed to be doing. More often than not they just end up doing something else or not showing up – that’s when you get the acting out, distracted, and distracting behaviour. If I were given a text to read and answer questions about in Hebrew or about electrical engineering without anyone there to guide me in the learning of the language or science I’d probably look for something else to do pretty quickly.

There is also nothing worse than to participate in PD with a group of educators who know that there will be no follow up, that the topic is just one in a long line of topics designed to keep everyone busy and tick off some boxes in terms of pedagogical development. Again, no real guidance here. At least none that is based in learner respect.

On the flip side, there is nothing better than to walk into a classroom and see students who are being challenged at exactly that point – you know the one, the one where they are right on the cusp of what they know and what they don’t, that zone of proximal development point – where learning is magical.

There is also nothing better than to participate in PD with a group of educators who are directly involved and invested in what they are doing. Who are learning for a reason that comes from within and not from external goals.

The first instances are insulting and disheartening, barren of respect and guidance. The second, enlightening and full of heart because they involve respectful guidance.

I’ve been blessed to have been able to experience both in my teaching and consulting practices. Blessed because the former ensure that I help create more instances of the latter.

How can the way I help other educators affect their practice?

I recently completed a 4-month contract as a technology consultant at two adult education centres. I loved it. Throughout the whole experience I felt this is what I am meant to be doing. The focus on tech reached out to my inner geek and the focus on relationship reached in towards my personal ethics of care.

The other day I was doing some thinking about the past 4 months and decided to put it on paper (so to speak) and to frame it within a guiding question. The question I came up with was:

How can the way I help other educators affect their practice?

I used Dabbleboard to help draw it out and came up with this (click to enlarge)

Thoughts about Consulting by Tracy