The Complexity of Nurturing and Showing We Care

Effective educators profoundly understand that “nurturing” scholars means demonstrating “care.” Many teachers may misunderstand “care” as unconditional praise, downshifting expectations for scholars...

Effective educators profoundly understand that “nurturing” scholars means demonstrating “care.” Many teachers may misunderstand “care” as unconditional praise, downshifting expectations for scholars whose lives are replete with risk-factors or traumatic experiences, or even as lowering standards. The No-Nonsense Nurturer® takes a stand by reflecting deeply on what it truly means to nurture scholars – and cares enough to create environments of belief and high expectations for each individual undergirding those beliefs with structures of purposeful support. A “Nurturing” No-Nonsense educator is committed to whatever it takes so that students accomplish at high levels, generatively spending themselves for the youth in their care. Sometimes, whatever it takes includes setting limits and establishing a system of consequences. That’s part of the nurturing process.

Some have found the name, No-Nonsense Nurturer, to be misleading. Often they are erroneously caught with own their perceived contradiction between No-Nonsense and Nurturer. After years of supporting teachers and leaders to transform the educational experiences of thousands of disenfranchised scholars, I have learned to see beyond such a false dichotomy. My passion lies in fostering the resilience of traditionally underserved youth, so I deeply connect with the empathetic relationships in schools that drive educational outcomes for all youth. What marks a “Nurturing” No-Nonsense educator is that they take the responsibility, undauntedly, to ensure the achievement of every scholar entrusted to their care, without exception.

To truly nurture implies the creation of an environment of high expectations coupled with purposeful support. The No-Nonsense Nurturer Four-Step Model represents an elegant nurturing and caring web of relationships for scholars:

  • Precise Directions: Educators access their personal knowledge of the scholars in their care to craft directions that ensure that students know what is expected of them and how they can successfully meet those expectations. A teacher who is skilled in providing Precise Directions nurtures the relationship with each scholar by assuming their personal responsibility for scholar achievement, without exception.
  • Positive Narration and Incentivizing Achievement: By noticing the scholars who are advancing and achieving at high levels, educators nurture their relationships with scholars by overtly recognizing individual student achievement thereby allowing that recognition to serve as a guide and motivation for others to also achieve. To narrate is to notice success, while noticing success demonstrates care for scholar achievement while simultaneously nurturing those in need of additional support. Recognizing that we want scholars to choose what is in their best interest, effectively creating incentive systems allow educators to support scholars in their decision-making. By framing incentives as, “I care so much for you and your future that I want you to choose to {insert option},” then the educator is profoundly messaging that they want scholars concretely to succeed, cementing a nurturing culture in the classroom.
  • Providing Consequences: Because students ultimately choose their own course of actions, a No-Nonsense Nurturing educator will not ignore any set of choices that are detrimental to academic achievement. Providing clear consequences also nurtures scholars by caring about their effective decision making.
  • Build Relationships with Scholars and their Families: Educators invest in and deepen their personal relationships with students and families by intentionally taking steps that transform the traditional school-based relationships with disenfranchised youth. Building these relationships nurtures scholars while surrounding them with the warm-demanding structures that result in student achievement.

No-Nonsense Nurturers do not fall into the trap of seeing a conflict between “No-Nonsense” and “Nurturing.” Rather, they understand the profound connectedness that “No-Nonsense” is in fact the way to express “Nurturing” and care for scholars.


Krovetz, Martin (1999). Fostering Resiliency: Expecting All Students to Use Their Minds and Hearts Well. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Nieto, Sonia (2008). Nice is Not Enough: Defining Caring for Students of Color. In Mica Pollock’s Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race in School. Kindle Edition.

Prada, Michael (2007). Schools as Resilient Organizations: Supporting the Mathematical Resilience of Latino Eighth Graders. University California, Berkeley.

by Dr. Michael Prada
Check out CT3 Education programs such as No-Nonsense Nurturer, Real Time Teacher Coaching, and Real Time Leadership Coaching to find out more about Professional Development for Teachers and Leaders, classroom management strategies, and building relationships with students and their families, and properly addressing important issues in the classroom and school.
Category: Change, Coaching, Education, Leadership, Teaching