The Privilege of Seeing Possibility

Posted by Stanley Communications on 11/10/2022 3:15:00 PM

In our TK and K-1-2 classes, the dramatic play area is a dynamic place. One week a child might be a shopkeeper, the next week, a veterinarian. Children pretend, imagine, and envision what’s possible. At Stanley, teachers know the power of seeing possibilities.


At Stanley, we provide opportunities for students to explore who they are and who they can become. We choose to use a lens of abundant possibility, one where we see each child as made up of many sides, endless paths and unlimited potential. For K-1-2 teacher Emily Sprayregan, seeing possibility in a learner means, “seeing where they are, appreciating where they are, while also recognizing all they’ve yet to acquire.” 
Stanley teachers believe in each student and have bold expectations for our classrooms. Laura Gibson explains, “I think it’s the job of the teacher to be the visionary and to really believe in the vision. To be able to say ‘this is possible.’ The way we get there is going to be different because each kid is unique and what they need is different. But the possibility is there. To have that strength and assertiveness and vision and experience is the teacher’s role.” At times this means that as teachers we must help students create a new vision for themselves. As Grace Reilly knows, “Kids are so quick to put themselves in boxes: ‘Oh I don’t do musicals.’ ‘I’m not a math person and I’ll never be a math person.’ Seeing possibility is helping to see that one can grow out of those boxes and that they’re not actually inhibiting the path forward.” 
Sometimes helping students take ownership of their own potential simply takes “spotting it, catching them in the act or drawing connections, really being present to notice,” as Randy Jones, Middle School Teaching Fellow, describes. We know that having curiosity as teachers allows possibility because we are open to what our students bring to us, who they are and how they are thinking. As Laura explains, “Seeing possibility starts with just seeing in general. Really trying to see a person and reflect back to them what you see. I think possibility comes out of that, if you’re really observant and present and able to say, ‘I see you.’” At Stanley, teachers know that at times, seeing possibility is trusting what is, and allowing it to unfold without judgment of what it could be. 
At Stanley, teachers focus on what we say, how we say it, when we say it and our body language – the subtleties of language that create shifts in our students. The ways we communicate create our students’ own ability to see possibility in themselves and in others. Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander in The Art of Possibility share, “Speaking in possibility springs from the appreciation that what we say creates a reality; how we define things sets a framework for life to unfold.”


At Stanley, we focus on the learner being an active agent of their growth, taking responsibility for their impact on materials, on people, on the world. With this comes a need to support kids as they venture outside of their comfort zone and take risks in their learning. Kiayan Reuter, K-1-2 Teaching Fellow, shares, “I think the important part is getting kids comfortable being uncomfortable, where there is that potential or possibility that they never thought of. It doesn’t always look the same for every child but when you’re asset-based you find the tools or the language to give them the courage or bravery to take the step that they didn’t anticipate.” 


Emily shares, “I think if a child sees that you see possibility in them, they will see it in themselves very naturally.” Ultimately, our goal is to create students that see possibility in themselves and take responsibility for their own learning and contributions to their communities. We know the powerful impact we can have as teachers who see possibility in our students - the power to create responsible learners and leaders and doers in their world. 


Seeing possibility is optimistic, hopeful, encouraging, supportive, it’s our ultimate belief that a learner can learn and become more. Carol Ann Tomlinson in her book So Each May Soar: The Principles and Practices of Learner-Centered Classrooms beautifully states, “Still, we are better teachers as we become more and more able to say about every learner in our care, ‘there is so much potential in this young person that no one has yet seen. I am privileged to work with this child, first to help her realize whole new ceilings of possibility and then to help her push beyond those ceilings as well.’” 


Many of you have had the opportunity to meet with your child’s teachers for our Fall conferences. During these conversations throughout the year, you will hear the many ways that we see possibility in your child. And, the privilege is ours.