What We See

“We see what we are prepared to see.”

Being that it is Sunday, I feel that I can share these words spoken by my insightful and in my opinion, progressive, priest during this morning’s mass. While I don’t make it to church often, when I do, I find myself smiling throughout his sermons. Today’s was no exception.

He spoke of Mother Teresa who, along with her sisters, would prepare for their extraordinary work with the poor by mediating until noon. When people pointed out to Mother Teresa that she could accomplish more if they commenced their work earlier in the day, she explained that while that may be true, they would not be able to serve with the same intention. Meditating and spending their morning in prayer allowed them to serve with fuller hearts and with a focus on the good in the people.

This made me wonder: How can this lesson apply to our lives as teachers? If you move into anything in life expecting to find deficits, that is exactly what you will find. But, if you approach it with an open heart, imagine the strengths you will find. What if, when we sit down to look at student writing, we take a few breaths and prepare ourselves to see strengths? Will we be able to look past the spelling and punctuation errors? Will the “hidden gems”, as Katherine Bomer calls them, shine through? Will we see brilliance and potential over deficits?

Try it out and let us know!


7 thoughts on “What We See”

  1. I learned something about Mother Teresa from your post. I think starting the day with God can make all the difference for me.

    That being said, I try to look at students with an “asset model.” What can they do well? What do they have partially under control? What is not under control at all? I try to start with a strength or something partially in place. It does make a difference.

  2. So true. While in grad school, that was taught to our class by one of my professors. First, find the strengths because those are what you draw from. I find it true and helpful when working with my first graders. Some children are so academically challenged, yet you teach them from where they are ready and those strengths you can expand. Thanks for a great post.

  3. This is the truth! When we expect to find fault, we do. When we expect to find greatness, we do. Thanks for this. Mother Theresa did it right. Imagine if we all did our work with a fuller heart?

  4. Often with student writing, I tried to just read through their pieces as a reader rather than a teacher. I focused on their voice, the feelings they were sharing. It’s a hard job though when you just want to get through them and grade them.

  5. I also find that wording matters.

    Please remember vs don’t forget.
    Please walk vs. don’t run.
    Thank you for asking but not right now vs. no.

    Reminding myself what to notice is the first step, and it’s often much more challenging. It’s easier to train my mouth than my eyes, I think.

  6. Beautiful. This applies to our colleagues, as well. I’ve never gone into a classroom to observe without learning. I always hope that pople are as generous with me.

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