Friday, September 30, 2011

Acknowledging Greatness

I've always thought that Greatness was a bit of an oxymoron. Great would suggest largeness, would it not? Vastness, largeness, grand. But some of the greatest greatness I have seen comes pint sized and in nibble-sized droplets. And when you notice greatness, you need to acknowledge it.

A month ago I watched a Ted Talk by a woman named Angela Maiers, entitled You Matter. Ted Talks almost always inspire me, but You Matter really hit home. I've always felt that building relationships is a critical part of education, but I could never really pin down why it mattered that my students mattered. I was just going by gut that this was the right thing to do.

My heart nearly burst after listening to Angela. Acknowledging is the most important truth of what we do as educators, because it is the key to unlocking our students and getting them to stay along for the ride. There is value in recognition, but the gift is truly in noticing and then having the sense to say so.

Have you ever noticed that the most well-loved Principals are the ones who stand at the entryway and greet each student by name? There is a magic in names; there is nothing quite so powerful or simple at the same time. To say a name is to acknowledge - to let someone know you see them. Angela speaks beautifully about this; to let someone know they matter is to hear them, see them, notice them.

I've been trying to let my students know that I notice them, as many times a day as possible. This class of beautiful and challenging children needs to hear, as individuals, that I hear them. That I see them. It has been the winning stroke as they transform into learners.

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