The art of caring for our students

 

Image: two people sitting and talking

By Sophie Kearns | Published 22 April 2022

“Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.” Margaret Mead

In the Student Support Team, we sit in a privileged space. Students can share the innermost workings of their lives when the terrain sometimes feels like unstable and shifting sands. We hold the students through difficult periods as they find their feet on firmer ground again. We do so with care.

I was proud to enjoy two colleagues, Nicole Zhang and Darcy Keogh, present to a cross-representation of Faculty recently that focussed on ways to support students in the classroom (or large online lecture spaces). A key question put to the participants for their contemplation and conversation was ‘How do you show that you care?’

In my years as a former secondary school educator and Director of Pastoral Care, I acknowledge that the intimacy of a school community lends itself to a more demonstrative notion of care. But care is not the purview of the young. What if care were the underlying relational principle upon which all interactions were built? 

We can achieve this, I believe, when we attend to our every interaction with intentionality. Good teaching is a craft. So is good care. When done well, neither happens by accident. And when good care and good teaching combine, we consciously and proactively promote healthy and dynamic communities.

Learning and addressing individuals by name, asking what they would like you to know of them as a learner and a human, following up when you recognise something is amiss, and recognising successes all show care. Repeating this at a class level and Faculty level, and so on, we start to preference the interdependent threads we carry as humans in community. 

When our effort is collective, the cumulative effect of everything we do really does matter and goes a long way to creating cultures of care. 

The Student Support Team and I are happy to be in ongoing conversation with Faculty about supporting students, demonstrating care, and all manner of things relational.

More information on the Student Support Team 

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This article was written by Sophie Kearns, Team Lead, Student Support.

Pro Vice-Chancellor, Education & Student Experience Portfolio

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