“How many people do you encounter in a day whom you do not really see?”
I doubt that Oprah specifically had educators in mind when she posed that question in O Magazine, but it couldn’t be more relevant to our profession. If you work with children, especially in early childhood, your answer has to be zero — and that’s a daunting task.
The preschooler who quietly plays alone, the baby who seems content in the swing, and the school-ager who is glued to his iPad? The one thing they all have in common is that they need you to really see them.
The toddler who won’t stop crying, the 4-year old who won’t stop pushing, and the 5-year old who can’t sit still? They need you to really see them, too.
Early childhood educators have a unique capacity to make a difference in children’s lives. When we focus on the fact that teaching is about heart – the universal symbol for caring and compassion – we’re reminded that every interaction is an opportunity to “make a moment.”
In the busyness of a typical day, when checklists still need to be completed, phone calls need to be returned, someone is completing the ERS or the CLASS or another observation acronym you can’t remember, and your co-teacher is absent, “making a moment” is not easy — but it’s necessary because it’s truly what these little ones need most from us. Arguably, it’s what every human being, regardless of age, needs most from us — to know, without a doubt, “I really see you.”
“I really see you” means I notice you, I know you, I care about you — and there’s nothing more powerful. Know too, that powerful doesn’t have to mean complicated. Start simply: greet each child individually, by name and at his eye level, with a warm “I am so happy to see you today.”
As an additional step, greet the adults you encounter in the same way — warmly, with eye contact, and using their names — because they need it too! The mom who seemed a little irritated, the dad who doesn’t smile, and the grandma who was late again? The one thing they all have is common is that they need you to really see them.
Every interaction, with children and adults alike, is an opportunity to make a moment. Why not take advantage of the opportunity?
Would you like to learn more about the idea of Powerful Interactions, simple, intentional ways to “make a moment” and extend learning? Visit https://www.powerfulinteractions.com/ and prepare to be wowed by the meaningful work of these talented authors, Amy Dombro and Judy Jablon.
Would you just like some tips on how to slow down a little and be more present in your life? Check out https://zenhabits.net/the-10-essential-rules-for-slowing-down-and-enjoying-life-more/.