I was overcome with pride this week as I watched elementary students working during Genius Hour in one of our schools. Those boys and girls are passionate about saving endangered species and Mine Craft and teaching dogs tricks. They lit up when they talked about what they were researching and what they cared most about right now. And I watched their teachers empower each and every one of them.
Then I got online and found a video that some of our high school students made called Mean Tweets about cyber-bullying. It is remarkable. They are taking tangible, powerful action to address a very real concern for young people. They saw a problem, and they took steps to address it. And I watched as their superintendent and their teachers and their administrators shared the video on social media, empowering them even further.
“Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one imagines.” Alan Turing
When I first heard this quote, I was sure it would end up in a blog. I was sure it would be a retelling of the many people who have accomplished great things despite this or that. I thought it would be about the people who overcame great challenges to rise in their fields or achieve great success. But in the end, as I rolled the quote around and around in my head, it is not about that at all. Because in the end, I do not agree with the quote.
Deeper examination of the people who have achieved great things in spite of overwhelming obstacles will always reveal someone who believed in them. There was a parent who told them that they were smart. There was a friend who read their stories or looked at their drawings and appreciated them. There was a teacher. So many times there was a teacher. Someone looked at them and saw what I like to call the sparkle, that inner glow that shines when they dance or run or sing or solve math problems. Someone told them that they sparkle, and that someone ignited a flame…even if it was just once in passing long ago and the flame stayed hidden deep down inside.
I cannot, will not, live in a world where there are people that no one imagines anything of. I cannot, will not, allow anyone to go through life with no one believing in them. I want to imagine something of EVERYONE. I want us all to imagine something of everyone.
In my profession, this is not a nice to have trait, it is a have to have trait.
Every day children walk into our schools and spend their days with people who should imagine something of them. Teachers are entrusted with the care and nurturing of minds and hearts and souls. It is our job to see the sparkle, to know our students so well that we can help identify their passions and encourage them. It is our job to do this for EVERY student in our classrooms, even the ones who are angry or quiet or difficult to like at times. In fact, it is our job to find it most in those students. We have the opportunity, the gift, to be the person who imagined something of the next great artist, the doctor who cures cancer, the President. It is our job to imagine something of these future parents, neighbors, colleagues.
Reflect on the people who saw something in you. Thank them.
Then look around for the people whose sparkle you should be seeing. Reach out to them. Encourage them. Nurture that sparkle. Do not allow a single person to go through life with no one imaging something of them.
Imagine something of everyone.