Friday, October 25, 2019

The Importance of Our Strengths

For anyone who knows me or has been following my blog, it's probably not a secret that it has been a tough beginning of the year for me. A district reorganization, a new job, new teams, and a lot of change means that I've been spending a lot of energy the past few months adjusting to the changes. And it's been hard.

As I continue to struggle with settling into my new job, I've tried to figure out why - and I had a realization today. I'm spending far more time working out of my weaknesses than out of my strengths.

What does this look like, practically? I'm supporting subject areas I'm just learning, while the teachers I am supporting have been teaching this class for years. I'm spending most of my day in meetings, rather than being out with teachers and students. And, in the areas where I feel like I have strengths, the work has shifted to other people/job functions, so I am not supposed to be doing these things (so we can all settle into our new roles).

It's frustrating. I also know that we are still in the beginning stages of this change, and sometimes things just take time.

Meanwhile, this has sparked many thoughts for me about how we treat our students. Are there kids in your class who feel like they spend their whole day working out of their weaknesses, and desperately want you to recognize their strengths (whether they are in traditional academics or elsewhere)? Do they feel like they are cut off from using their sources of strength to aid in their learning? What does this do to their confidence and their view of themselves as learners?

I hope that we can all take a strengths-based approach to see the beautiful strengths all of our students bring. They may be learning English, and they have a rich cultural and linguistic heritage from somewhere else. Their family may be staying with another family right now due to financial constraints, and they might have learned how to get along with a wide variety of people. They may have a disability, and they might have learned to think creatively about how to accomplish things. Which side are we going to focus on?

I hope that we, as educators, can leverages students' strengths to build their confidence and capacity as learners, allowing them to move onto bigger and bigger challenges and ultimately to soar!

(And I hope that, one of these days, I will find ways to bring my strengths more and more into my daily work!)

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