The Admiring Lens: How to Change the Way You See Your Students

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”—Sir John Lubbock

The Admiring Lens: A Way of Looking at Students to Fuel Their Growth

In her book Mindsets and Moves,  author Gravity Goldberg, EdD, challenges teachers to shift their perspective when it comes to the way they view their students. She advocates for adopting what she terms an “admiring lens.” 

“If we want to cultivate environments where (students) thrive, we must admire our students. I mean not just to respect them, but to approach them with wonder and curiosity—to study our students with the expectation they have many things to teach us.”

Making the shift can have a powerful effect not only on our students but on our teaching practice as well. 

It can change the way we give feedback.

Oftentimes our feedback for students comes from what is called a deficit lens. We point out what they are not doing or are doing wrong, which can be discouraging and demoralizing. When we approach students with admiration—through an admiring lens— we are able to see what is actually there and value learners as individuals. We see their strengths and potential and understand the processes that work for them. As a result, our feedback becomes more individualized and effective. We ask guiding questions that help students process in ways that make sense for them. 


Viewing students through an admiring lens helps them develop a growth mindset.


There’s no doubt that it’s important for students to know how they are progressing toward their goals and what they are doing well. When we adopt an admiring lens toward our students and tailor our instruction in ways that fit, we begin to develop a different kind of relationship with them. Students feel safe, and feedback becomes a welcome part of the learning process. They are more willing to take risks with their thinking, go deeper in their exploration, and be more creative—all characteristics of a growth mindset. 

Adopting an admiring lens can transform our practice. 

As we embrace our students where they are and trust in their potential for growth, we become much more mindful of our actions and intentions as teachers. We become more precise in our judgement, in our planning, and in the execution of our practice. When we focus on possibilities instead of limitations, we honor students for who they truly are and enable them to reach their potential as learners and as people. 

Have you embraced an ‘admiring lens’ with your students? Come share your experience in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE! Facebook group. 

Also, check out 12 Ways to Build Strong Classroom Community

The Admiring Lens: How to Change the Way You See Your Students