The Power of Being “Seen” on Campus

My daughter is a young cyclist.  She first started racing as a mini miss on a little strider bike with no pedals.  She would ride around the grass as her daddy would compete in bike races. Now that she is older, she is able to compete as a junior racer.  As usual with parenting, I am learning more through the journey than the kids are.  

As my daughter lines up on the starting line, it is striking how small she is.  She is an 8 year old competing alongside 9 to 17 year olds. Her back is almost too small to pin her racing number on.  But let me tell you, she is fierce. She is all in and she can hold her own in the field. She leaves her little heart on the course every week.  

The bicycle association has the same announcer each week at all of the races.  He would call her name during the race and comment on her stature and her determination.  She thanked him after a race once and a friendship ensued.  

Every time he would chat with her after the race and would say the same thing, “I see you.” Sometimes that was all he said, other times they would chat about the details of the race or he’d encourage her to keep fighting.  However, he always said, “I see you.” I can hear his voice in my head as plain as day. “I see you.”

Let me tell you, that was the perfect thing to say.  He truly did see her and to her that was truly special.  He validated her. He honored her work. He motivated her. He supported her to keep going.  The simple phrase “I see you” said so much. It implied so much. It carried so much, yet it was so simple.

What if you could truly be seen?  How would that impact you? Could that produce the same feelings of validation and motivation like those sparked in my daughter by the race announcer?

I see you educator:

I see you working late planning tomorrow’s lesson.

I see you going out of your way to connect with that struggling student.

I see you balancing work and home and family and life.

I see you eating your lunch in 5 minutes at your desk .

I see you lying awake because you can’t get that student off of your mind.

I see you.

And what if we truly see our students? Could that produce the same motivation that the cycling announcer sparked in an 8 year old underdog?

 I see you student:

I see you coming home late from practice and doing your homework in bed with a flashlight.

I see you being kind to fellow students even when no one is looking.

I see you staying engaged even when your stomach is rumbling.

I see you hustling to class even when your friends are still talking.

I see you asking for help when you don’t understand the work.

I see you.

What if we could see past a few things to produce a relationship like the cycling announcer sparked in a little girl who seeks him out at all of the races, no matter what. 

I saw you give up, but I see you trying again.

I saw you act out, but I see you back in class.

I saw you fail that test, but I see you studying to retake it.

I saw you walk in tired, but I see you listening anyway.

I saw you and all of your imperfections, but I see what you can become.

I saw you, but now I see you.

I want to look up and see.  I want to notice people not just for their struggles, but for their success despite the trial.  I learned from an 8 year old and a cycling announcer that it really is that simple. Validate, honor, praise, inspire, motivate…tell people you see them.  

If you want to go deeper and help your staff better connect with students, CLICK HERE to download a free lesson that I wrote just for you. In it your teachers will be given the opportunity to truly “see” their students.

Sarah Hayden
Instructional Coach, TEEN TRUTH

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