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How to find out if someone cares

You are a silly goose. You walk in and out of school, you do the bare minimum, and you think it’s all fine. But you forgot one thing: KINDNESS.

That teacher who you think hates you, probably doesn’t. Maybe they’re going through a divorce, okay? Okay—probably not but they are trying to convince 30 kids that chemistry matters, which you have to admit is hard: take 30 seconds in class to test if they care.

FOUR STRATEGIES

(1) Watch. Do they have favorites? Do they only talk to the popular kids? Are they strict—and do you respect that strictness or does it feel like bullshit?

Hold up five fingers. Put one down every time you answer yes. If they all go down, your teacher cares. Do they know your name? Do they get to class on time with planned out lessons? Do they stay late after school, or talk to students after class? Do they show emotion? Do they smile, ever?

Put a finger back up if… They have CLEAR favorites or only talk to the popular kids. They never make eye contact with you They’ve never tried to talk to you, or ask you how you’re doing They’re strict in a BS way, or plain mean

And put fingers down if: They’re honest. They tell you that the district is forcing them to do dumb shit. They show up with energy almost always, and never drag through the class They PRIORITIZE TEACHING. Their phone is on silent and they don’t get sidetracked. They deal with difficult shit without flinching — when a kid disrupts class, they quiet the kid down without offending them. They make an effort: they ask about the football game or the musical, they try to play Kahoot once in a while. They know when a lot of kids are confused, and slow down.

Still have fingers up? Proof I’m not bullshiting the design of this: short video link w/ script explaining choices, what it means for a teacher to care

(2) THE GINGERBREAD MAN’S BASEMENT Tell them the gingerbread man story, and watch their body language. Are they making eye contact? Did they stop what they were doing to talk to you? Do they drop their “teacher voice” [tooltip] when they respond?

(3) Open up in 30 seconds How is someone gonna ~help you~ if they don’t know you need help!?!??!?!?!? You keep your head down, walk out of class and don’t come back, don’t show up… You’re not making yourself approachable! Imagine your best friend sat in the room with you like that: silently, hoodie on, walking out at random times, flaky.

DON’T CHANGE THE WAY YOU ACT. Just give one CLEAR and PRESSING sign: “Hey, I didn’t get any sleep last night. It makes it hard to focus. Wanted to let you know.”

If they respond FUNNY, SASSY, AWYOUPOORTHING, RELATING, SHARING THEIR OWN STRESS, OFFERING TO HELP WITH EXTRA TIME ON HOMEWORK, they care.

If they respond FAKE or they DEFLECT [tooltip], they might not care. If you really want to be sure, ask: “If I needed food, like I didn’t eat yesterday or this morning, would you help?”

If they respond FAKE, that sucks. They don’t care. But if they give a good response, they might care a little.

(4) Ask them. Straight up. Do you care?

This will sound like a cry for help, so only use it if you really, really need help. If they don’t give a good answer, find AN adult in the building who will [link, how to find someone who cares]

NOW THAT YOU KNOW THEY CARE, ASK FOR A PINCH OF HELP Minimum viable helpful ask. If you feel LOST: “Write my name in the corner of the board every morning, and I’ll erase it at the end of the day.”

This way you have two interactions with the teacher: one when you walk into their class to erase your name, one the next day when you see it up again. Over a school year, that’s 360 moments they show they care. That’s like 360 hugs from your mom. And it takes two seconds.

If you feel TIRED/STRESSED: “Give me five minutes every class block to take a walk. Nod at me when it’s a good time.”

Now you’re getting permission for something you do anyways. Instead of stealing chips from the corner store, the store manager gives you a free bag. Isn’t that so much more chill?

If you’re ANGRY: “Are there five minutes in your schedule when I can sit quietly in your classroom?”

Now you have a space where you can go when you’re angry in another class (without having to worry about hall monitors).