I don't care because I care

I met with someone recently who I had never met before. Toward the end of our time together, the person said "you have an 'I don't care' attitude, like you're going to call it like you see it".

My "I don't care" nonchalance is not, in fact, because I don't care. It's because I care so much that I can't care. I can't care about being nice, I can't care about sugar coating things, I can't care about making you feel good. I "don't care" because I can make this learning environment safe, even if it hurts. I can fix things, I can make calls, I can put the world right (most of the time), but I need my students to know that there are consequences.

I care so much that I believe students deserve the truth about their situation. If a student is going to fail, if they haven't followed instructions, if they are in bad shape, they deserve to know. Students sometimes need to fail, and the beautiful thing is we have the power to make a failure a really great lesson. Most of the failures I see are relatively minor and are usually fixable. Missed an appointment? I'm going to tell you that you missed it, but I'll also offer to reschedule. A student needs to be enrolled in a class at the last moment or has some type of registration crises? They deserve to know that this is a crisis, that normally this situation would take days to fix, but because they're self advocating I can make the problem go away faster than that.

Having an "I don't care" attitude means that I truly put the student first. Learning is hard. Learning can hurt. But learning in my office is also safe, mostly teachable moments, because I can fix it. The world out there isn't as forgiving.


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