I've recently been nominated for an educational award. As part of that process, I am required to provide at least three references recommending me for this award. I was a bit uneasy asking people to do this for me. Just like most teachers, we don't get into this career for rewards and praise.
Yesterday, as I was preparing to come home, Staci Hawkins, a fellow teacher, told me she had left her letter in my teacher box. I thanked her and headed out, making a stop a the teacher boxes. As I started reading, I was moved to tears. She outlined all the characteristics she felt that I possessed that made me a good teacher. I was seeing myself through her eyes.
Once I composed myself, I began to reflect on how many others never get to see themselves through others' eyes...especially our students. In the community where I teach, many of my students go to home where they are the caregiver of younger siblings. They are responsible for making sure everyone gets their homework done, everyone eats dinner, and everyone takes a bath before going to bed. Many of these parents are working two jobs to try to keep their heads above water. I even have students who are homeless. As a majority of my students are living in the poverty level, their family's primary focus is on survival.
I started to wonder, do my students see themselves for the amazing people that they are? At school, we all get overwhelmed and rush from one thing to another in an attempt to get as much accomplished as possible with our students. I have to admit that I have been guilt of saying trite things like "good job" or "way to go" without being more specific in identifying what they did. I realize that I need to make time for them to see themselves the way that I see them. Without me, they may never realize all the potential that they each possess.
For me, seeing that letter made me resolve to live up to those eloquent words. Our words will do the same for our students. So tomorrow when your students enter the classroom, be sure to actually SEE them and REFLECT back to them who they really are. Be the mirror for your students.