Thursday, February 10, 2011

good heart, good human.

A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.---Nelson Mandela

I will admit it. I'm a softie. I really am. I cry at the drop of a hat over things like a beautiful sunrise or those darn ASPCA commercials with all of the abused puppies, or the most recent "We Are the World" video after the Haiti earthquake. Oh, and the ending of It's a Wonderful Life, every time. Let's see, I know there's more...

People tell me I'm just tender hearted. But that's beginning to become a problem. Like when students tell me, "Ms. Kurtenbach, I work every day of the week and thats why I couldn't get the reading done socanIpleasenottakethequiztoday?" as I'm passing out the reading quiz. And I feel for them, I really do. I worked every day too in high school. Some weekends I feel like I live at work. But I still manage to accomplish all that I need to. But boy, that summative quiz is going to tank this person's grade if they couldn't read any of what I asked them to... What to do, what to do...

Part of being the teacher who cares (once again, being a "good human" to our students) is making ourselves accessible to the student. If only more students took advantage of this accessibility, they would truly see how much the teachers want them to succeed. For those small numbers of students who have taken a proactive approach to their grades and their commitment to their education by coming in to see me or at least being honest with me about their difficulties with a text (or even admitting to not reading) they see that I AM willing to help. And I think that it increases my integrity as a teacher. Now, for the kid who didn't read, one of the most difficult things I've had to do (and it happened today) was to say, "sorry. You've had 3 days to read this AND time in class. Do the best you can on this quiz." It was like stabbing my heart with a butcher knife.

We have talked so much in 403N about "integrity as a leader". One of my colleagues noted in his blog that in order to become leaders with integrity, "we need to know exactly what makes us whole." What makes me whole, what pushes me forward is the constant will to help others and make others recognize the human conditon. I now completely recognize why I was placed with my CT. He is a wonderful person and an excellent example of what good can be brought to a school if only one person works for a meaningful learning opportunity such as Holocaust Lit. His integrity is well-recognized throughout the school. He is an educator I hope to become some day. In the mean time, I will start with my students now.


  1. I realized towards the beginning of my student teaching that I often wanted to answer the students with my emotions, rather than being consistent with class rules. However, I know that like you I must be consistent because ultimately this is what is best for them. My emotions change daily, but rules are consistent. I like how you make the point that this consistency does not have to interfere with our accessibility to the students. I agree completely that this accessibility DOES make us caring teachers who value relationships with their students, and plays a role in our integrity. I think your post was a perfect fit for the quote you chose as a headline. As teachers we have to balance our head with our heart in order to make the best decisions. I also agree with the connection you make in that this balance helps us to lead with integrity.

  2. Lauren, it was so nice to meet you. :) On gmail chat I saw you there and your blog was under your name, so I came. I agree, your overseeing teacher is a good hearted--high integrity educator. I like your thoughts here and I have this impression that you'll be an awesome teacher. Keep your caring heart! Emily

  3. I completely understand what you are saying. I am a softie too--except I get upset when people don't hold up on their end of the deal. Students (no matter how busy they are) should take the time to get stuff finished. I remember high school--I had a job, was in 5 different extracurriculars, and that meant staying up until 2 in the morning doing homework. Now, I'm not advocating giving students so much homework that they are up until the wee hours of the night--I'm just saying, it is possible to get stuff done. I feel bad as well when students have bad stuff going on in their lives and they can't complete the homework. In that case, I give them a chance to turn it in when they get a moment. But you just don't know if one of them is just saying they couldn't get it done as an excuse. It's hard...and I agree, I don't like to give kids a hard time, but you have to pick and choose what you do in each scenario.