When Jared Smith arrived at Muscatine, one of his goals was to build a faculty that was not just providing a quality education but providing a quality environment for the students. Smith was also in the finishing stages of completing his Doctorate of Education degree from Iowa State University. The focus of his research was teacher care.
In interviews, high school graduates from various backgrounds were asked what characteristics they found in their most caring teachers and what characteristics they saw in the teachers who appeared to be not as caring. “The purpose of doing research like this is live it out. The nice thing about being an active administrator is you can see some the research through and bringing the characteristics to light,” Smith said.
One of the findings was that when students are struggling with an assignment, the teachers are asking the right questions and finding a solution or a way to help the students understand. Said Smith, “This seems like a very simple thing, but these are the things that help students truly understand that their teachers care.”
This research is being shared with other teachers and administrators in the district. “We have to be able to give feedback to the students and the communication channels grow.” Smith added, “We have a great staff who are doing a strong job of providing our students feedback.”
The school is continuing to increase training in conjunction with the Area Education Association for Mental Health First Aid Training. “This really focuses on building strong relationships with our students [so] they feel comfortable coming to our teachers if they are concerned or feeling something that needs to be addressed.”