In a school context where students have worked with supportive adults to establish their own personal, learning or extracurricular goals, reaching those goals is their own measure of success. Academic success in an educational context based on self-directed and personalized learning is an indicator of empowerment. Such achievement demonstrates that students have been motivated and able to find ways of equipping themselves to succeed.
When students have been able to successfully meet their own goals, they express and display pride in their achievements. Students may feel pride as well when they are able to meet those goals autonomously, when they know what to do to realize their vision, when they are able to trace the steps needed to arrive at the desired result.
As students learn work, study and organizational skills and are increasingly able to function autonomously, they develop confidence and an optimistic expectation that they are likely to succeed. For many marginalized students who have struggled with imposed or learned limitations caused by social injustice, manifestations or expressions of attitudes of hopefulness and optimism are an indicator of empowerment.
Widespread pride in achievement, enjoyment of school life and learning, and a positive, optimistic demeanour indicate that students feel empowered. We may observe students smiling, their shoulders held high, clearly glad to be at school.
Each person has a bright light. The most important thing to tell teachers is "find the light", let students see their light. Sometimes students don’t even know they have that light. When they know that you know—that is magic. You can see the light in their eyes—it’s a manifestation of being loved, acknowledged, feeling special. There is a physical transformation—a light in the eyes, their cheeks are rosy, they exhale. Then I know: I found that spot.