In a school of over 1,000 teenagers it's easier to be lost than found, but the seniors in my cousin Laurie's AP Lit classes know that she sees them. From day one, her message is "I see you." Her motto is even on the wall of her classroom. It's one thing to verbalize or even display but completely different to live out, and that's what she does on a daily basis.
Her practice challenges me to do better. Even though I have a fraction of the students she has, there are times when it feels like some of the little people are slipping through my fingers. I'm doubtful there are really any good excuses for this. Sometimes though, I'm distracted by the clock in my head, and honestly it's simply easier to see the strengths and personalities of some more than others. Then there was last year when I was overwhelmed with survival. For reasons such as these, it's possibIe to lose sight of the most important job I have in the classroom -- seeing all 23 of my students in all of their greatness.
I'm doing better. Every day I find three beautiful things. Ninety-six days into the school year, and I have found, taken pictures of, and shared on my class website 288 beautiful things. What's more, I know I've repeatedly found beautiful things showcasing all my students, because I keep track on a spreadsheet. All this has forced me to see the silent ones who so easily slip through my fingers. I'm paying attention. (By the way, if I had a challenging collection of students like I did last year, looking for beautiful things wouldn't necessarily fix the situation, but I'm convinced it would compel me to see them in a different light.) An added bonus is that they see each other. Each day a different student is responsible for finding three beautiful things for our class website, and they take the job seriously. How about this one: "Lawrence doesn't give up even when it is hard."
Regie Routman precedes the above quotation with this thought. "I'll never forget seeing the blockbuster movie Avatar and being struck that the word love was not in the Avatar culture. To express that emotion, a character would say, 'I see you' which translated to 'I know who you are,' 'I understand you,' 'I value you.'" My cousin Laurie naturally sees all her students. I've discovered my way. What's yours?