helping students feel seen

Hero at the Classroom Door


We need more of it in the world today. Just meeting needs.

And sometimes, people just need to be seen.

They need to hear their name called.

Have someone look them in the eye. Not a passing glance but to really look at them. Not a creepy-stalky weird look – just a normal human being “I see you” kind of look.

The kind of look that also listens.

So, when you say hello and say their name and ask, “How are you doing today?” that you look-listen long enough to not only hear their answer but see their answer.

So you notice if they pause before they answer.

Or you see the tiny micro-flick of their eyes before they give you the expected “I'm fine” so you can look-listen and know — THEY ARE NOT FINE.

So you can say — “Hey, I notice you're tired,” or say, “Really? Are you doing ok?” or just notice if they look tired or that their eyes are downcast and their feet are dragging just a little bit more than yesterday.

That kind of kindness.

The kind of kindness that doesn't demand an explanation or even expect one but that can say – “It's ok. You don't have to explain a thing. I'm sorry for whatever you are going through, and I'm here if you need me, even just to listen. I care.”

That kind of kindness is what I desire to do at my door at the beginning of every single class period with a goal to say every student's name every single day.

Sure, sometimes I fall short. I fall short a lot, in fact, as a child may tell me about a new puppy keeping her awake or an aging dog she loves that isn't doing well. Or an unexpected visit from an uncle or an unplanned trip to the ER. All those things.

Things that don't happen much to any of us, but when they happen, they can be a big deal and significantly impact our ability to be present, be engaged, and learn. And with the number of students I teach, somebody is going through something every single day.

So, I stand there at my door. Ready. Smile on. Eyes open. Look-listening as I greet each child by name knowing that if I can be kind and know about the tough days — or the celebratory days alike — that perhaps each child can feel truly seen. Truly seen by another human being.

I may teach technology, but as I stand at the door, I do something far more important than make sure they know how to code or build an app or make a movie.

When I do that, I stand up and say that every one of my students matters. All of them. The quiet ones. The loud ones. The ones who wish they could slip by unnoticed. Each one is precious. Vital. Important and full of purpose.

And if you and I can teach that, dear friends, we didn't just teach our content knowledge; we teach each child of their worth.

And if I can do that and you can do that — and inspire others to do the same – this look-listen welcome to our classrooms across the world, then that kind of start to class —

that kindness – can make me content and joyfully well-settled in my role as a teacher. Teaching is a noble calling.

The kind of teacher who makes every child feel seen is my kind of hero.

If that is you, and you have nodded your head throughout this whole post, then I salute you!

You're my kind of teacher.

Well done, friend.

Teach on.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere