Are You A ‘Warm Demander’ Teacher?

Do you refuse to lower expectations for success?

In the US, there is plenty of talk about effective teachers being warm demanders but in the UK it isn’t a term you will hear in many staffrooms.

So “What’s one of them?” I hear you carp.

A warm demander is someone who you will instantly recognise when we begin to unpack it. You may even see yourself as one and didn’t even realise it.

A warm demander

  • uses a supportive tone of voice
  • listens to students and takes them seriously
  • appreciates the uniqueness of individual students
  • doesn’t embarrass a student
  • shows a positive attitude
  • shows a sense of humour
  • shows interest in and respect for students’ outside interests
  • involves students in making decisions about the class and the curriculum
  • looks for improvements in student work and behaviour, not perfection
  • expresses warmth through smiling, touch, warm or firm tone of voice, and good natured teasing.

“Hey, that’s me, I’m a warm demander!”

See, you didn’t even know it.

But warm demander needs a little more unpacking.

Judith Kleinfeld (1975) coined the term warm demanders to describe teachers who most successfully supported student achievement. It is an equity approach, grounded in showing students that you care and refuse to give up on their achievement within a climate of emotional warmth. They enjoy high rapport with their students.

Kleinfield identified four categories of teacher that you will recognise:

1. Sophisticates

Teachers with low expectations and low relationships. These are teachers who are often aloof and undemanding. It’s a “take it or leave it” approach whereby students can decide if they want to learn something or not. “You either learn it or you don’t.”

2. Traditionalist

Teachers with high expectations and low relationships. These are teachers who “set high expectations for students but view developing personal relationships with them as outside their professional purview, offering little academic or emotional support to help students meet expectations.”

3. Sentimentalist

Teachers with low expectations and high relationships. These are teachers who are warm but undemanding. They have sympathy for students rather than empathy.

4. Warm Demanders

Teachers with high expectations and high relationships, These are teachers who combine “high personal warmth with high active demandingness”. “In the classrooms of these teachers, students actively participated in discussions and were willing to work hard for their teachers, with whom they had developed a positive, mutually respectful rapport.”

Warm demanders are teachers that encourage mutual respect. It’s all about the relationships.

Nelsen, Lott and Glenn (2000) in their brilliant work Positive discipline in the classroom: Developing mutual respect, cooperation, and responsibility talk about effective teachers avoiding ‘adult-isms’ that produce guilt (e.g. “How come you never…?” or “I can’t believe you would do such a thing!”) and focus instead on support, encouragement and respect. They are very explicit in what they want a student to do but are not cruel or mean.

In fact, if we take a look at Dr Jane Nelsen’s website we get a clearer understanding of what positive discipline looks like:

  1. Is Kind and Firm at the same time. (Respectful and encouraging)
  2. Helps children feel a sense of Belonging and Significance. (Connection)
  3. Is Effective Long-Term. (Punishment works short term, but has negative long-term results.)
  4. Teaches valuable Social and Life Skills for good character. (Respect, concern for others, problem-solving, accountability, contribution, cooperation)
  5. Invites children to discover how Capable they are and to use their personal power in constructive ways.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: