Humans First

Humans First
Published on: March 29, 2021

By Justin Slocum Bailey | 2 min read

The mantra Humans First helps me remember two crucial concepts. The first is that nothing is more important than human beings. The second is that everyone is a human before they are anything else.

Nothing is more important than human beings

Nothing is more important than human beings. Not ideas, not subjects, not institutions, not goals, not lessons, not information, nothing.

This should inform how we interact with students, colleagues, and anyone else—including online. No matter what we’re saying or doing, people should get the sense that the fundamental reason why we’re saying, doing, or teaching something, is that we truly care about human beings—or else we lose a lot of our credibility. It’s really hard to teach or convince people who don’t trust you.

Everyone is a human before they are anything else

Everyone is a human before they are anything else. I’m a human being first, then a teacher, a learner, a writer, etc.—that’s one reason why I need to take care of myself as a human before I can do anything else well—and other people are humans before they are anything else.

A student’s status as a human being is more fundamental and more important than their status as a student, a troublemaker, a helper, or whatever. Besides allowing us to be more respectful and trustworthy, keeping this in mind is crucial for our actual planning and instruction, because who we teach should affect how we teach. There’s no such thing as teaching a generic student. There’s only teaching actual human beings. Which, of course, means that the better we know our students as humans, the better we can teach. I would add that, the more students recognize our humanness, the more likely they are to be willing and able to learn from us.

Two questions to ask yourself

So, whether you’re planning a lesson, answering a question, or commenting on social media, I urge you to ask yourself,

“Is what I’m saying or planning rooted in genuine care for human beings?”


“Does what I’m saying show it?”

Let’s keep reminding ourselves: Humans First.

Humans First is a principle in TeachHuman’s flagship training program Teach Like a Human. Join the program for hundreds of practical techniques and challenging ideas to help you thrive in and out of the classroom—all while applying the principles to train your students and improve the systems in which you work!

Teach Well.
Be Well.

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