I don’t know about you, but it means such a lot to me when people take the time to learn how I like my coffee. I like it strong and black and I hate tea. Even the thought of drinking tea makes me feel slightly queasy! In pre-covid times, when I would go round to my closest friends’ houses they would just make me a strong black coffee without asking and would even give me the glass of water on the side (I don’t know why I need a glass of water with a cup of coffee, but I do)! I felt seen and that always makes me feel wonderful.
As many of you know, if you read my articles, I greet all the children when they walk in each morning. Why? So they feel seen. Have you ever walked into a room filled with people and no-one has said hello to you? I have and I hate that feeling. Being acknowledged helps me to feel part of rather than apart from.
Over the weekend, I was listening to some wonderful people talking about how they invest in pupils. They talked about the importance of knowing each and every child in their class, recognising their similarities and differences and teaching to this.
The pupils we teach, are not clones of one another but are all people with minds, values, hopes and dreams that are personal to them. A teacher’s life would be simple if we taught all the pupils in our class in the same way, but if wouldn’t serve them. Surely, our job as educators is to ‘see’ the pupils we teach – to know them and teach from this knowledge.
Richard Simpson, a passionate teacher and reader, believes that books are a wonderful way to show our young people that we know them and are also a great way to find out more about them and he is absolutely right. Just like Rich, I have found that when I am talking about a book with my class, chatting about it, rather than formally dissecting it, my children share all sorts of fascinating insights that help me to know them that little bit better.
Hywel Roberts, who wrote ‘Oops! Helping Children Learn Accidentally’ talks about the importance of relationships in the classroom and that it is vital to know the young people we teach in order to find out what will hook them into learning best. We will have reluctant writers, readers, mathematicians and scientists in our class but it is our job to identify what they love and bring them on board the learning journey by doing just this.
Early Years practitioners do this as a matter of course. I remember hearing one story of a Reception teacher bringing an old engine into the outdoor area for the children to ‘play’ with as her class were obsessed with vehicles. I’m sure you can imagine the levels of engagement. She truly saw and understood the learners before her.
Do you teach a child at the moment who doesn’t like a certain subject or is reluctant in a certain area? Do you know why? It sometimes takes time to unpick why certain barriers are there, but we owe it to our children to truly see them as learners so that we are able to help them overcome any issues that stand in their way.
I would love to know what you have done to help learners be seen in your classroom so let me know over on Twitter – find me on @toriaclaire and let’s share ideas!