Sunday, November 16, 2014

Finding Our Strengths

We are overwhelmed. Our curriculum is constantly changing. Illinois is broke and can't pay us our pensions. We are constantly adding and not subtracting. Can you believe he replied to all with that email? Our students are really challenging this year. That parent was really difficult to handle. How did he get that position? My colleagues are judgmental. Society doesn't respect what I really do. Well, I guess that perk was taken away. I didn't get that job I put in for. He has no idea what he is doing. What are we going to do with all this data? I've seen this initiative before. We didn't get a raise. My boss plays favorites. I cannot believe she said that. That kid is going nowhere.

We are working really hard. Our curriculum is what is best for kids. I can't worry about my pension now it has nothing to do with my job today. We can tell the story of our success. We evolve for the best. I love my students this year. I enjoy collaborating with others. Most of our parents give us their full support. Our school leader makes great decisions in tough situations. My colleagues are amazing professionals and I don't know where I would be without them. I have the best job in the world. That is something we can do together.  This is really going to help my lesson today. That kid is hilarious. I take most of the summer off. Our school does amazing things.  My students make teaching worthwhile. Our staff is really dedicated. I cannot wait to get started.

There have been times in my short career that I have been both of these people. Relative to the cloud over education today, I think it is easy to get caught up in the negativity that surrounds our profession. But it's still a personal choice how to approach our life's work.

Whenever I feel the urge to buy into the pessimism, I go back to the reasons why I became an educator. Each one of us has strengths in our jobs- the kind of qualities that our colleagues admire and our students are drawn to. In the myriad of different hats we wear, some hats just fit better and play to our strengths.

In my current position, I wear plenty of hats that just don't fit right. I am learning a new job and experiencing the growing pains of a new challenge. In those moments, I try to find my strengths- perhaps the very things that drew me to education in the first place.

One of the programs we have at our high school is a study program after school for freshmen who are failing two or more classes. The freshmen work one on one with student and adult tutors in the hopes of "graduating out" of the hour-long, daily study program. Some students see it as a punishment, but we see it as a support. It's easy to use this time after the school day to make phone calls, write evaluations, and clean up my emails. But after a day of doing a lot of that already, I enjoy spending time working one on one with our most fragile freshmen. I'm confident that I can forge relationships with those kids, and use those relationships to eventually push them personally and academically.

We have to go back to our strengths. 

All of us have them, and all of us went into this line of work with attributes that feed the "positives" of our profession.  As educators, we can wrap our strengths around us and still be successful in challenging our weaknesses. As a thought for those reading and those in #savmp,  here are three questions to think about:

1. What are your strengths as an educator?
2. How can you add to them?
3. Will you let your strengths forge the positives in your daily work?

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