The “C” in the MASCC stands for compassion. Every student wants a teacher who has compassion for them. Many of our students live in homes that are filled with lack, limitation, anger, and fear. So when they step into your classroom they want to feel safe, cared for, loved, listened to, and understood.
Maurine Stuart’s description of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara in her book The Subtle Sound (1996) is a great description of every good teacher that I know.
The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, who appears in the Heart Sutra, is the bodhisattva of compassion and wisdom, and is often depicted as having one thousand hands and one thousand eyes; one thousand eyes to see the thousands of needs, and one thousand hands to help. Some depictions have eleven faces as well, to symbolize seeing in all directions simultaneously (p. 87).
Every once in a while you’ll hear a student say, “Does she have eyes in the back of her head?” As a teacher I know that it is important for the students to think that you have “eyes” in the back of your head. What the students really want to know is that the teacher has compassion for them and will give them the support, the kind words, the extension on their homework, and more when they need it. They want to know that we care about them and their success not only in the classroom but in life. We know that the situation in some of their homes makes it difficult to study and learn.
In one of my developmental English classes I discovered that one of my best students was homeless. How did I discover that? She was always the first one in class and so one morning I complimented her on it. She shared with me that she had to take an early bus in order to get to class on time because she was coming from the homeless shelter for teens all the way across town. When I heard that I gave her space to share her story and for the balance of the term I gave her what support I could.
Unless we have compassion for our students many are likely to drop out of high school or college. Unless we perfect that compassion we may be adding to the pain and suffering that they live with on a daily basis. And don’t think just because they live in a fancy house in a fancy neighborhood that life is a bowl of cherries! Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes and incomes.
Be like the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara with your thousand eyes and hands ready to help!
Let me know how it goes!
 Stuart, M. and Chayat, R.S. (1996). Subtle Sound the Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart. Boston, MA: Shambhala.