In our profession, we often create a deficit-based climate because we focus on what we are not doing rather than on what we are doing. We are constantly looking for areas of growth, and it is common to feel inadequate. In fact, in the blog post “Focus on Your Strengths,” the author notes that it is almost impossible to feel successful as an educator because teaching requires three very distinct and different traits. Hence, we may be strong in two of the three, yet constantly focus on our deficit. Instead of comparing our weaknesses to other’s strengths, he suggests we should recognize our own strengths.
While it is valid to want to learn and grow and to create a culture of continuous improvement, it is also valid to do so while leaning in to our strengths.
What strengths do you have and what contributions do you make to our profession because of your strengths?
In the same vein, this is a valid strategy to use with students. In assessment, ask what they are currently doing well and how can they build upon their strengths and successes? Lean in to their strengths and they will likely be more motivated, more engaged and therefore make greater gains.
It is exhausting to be constantly seeking what isn’t there. It creates negativity for all parties and strips away joy and passion. A colleague recently left me a beautiful closing line to a letter: lean in.
Lean in to the work. Lean in to what you cannot do. Lean in to your strengths. Whatever the interpretation, lean in. I promise, you will learn more, grow more and laugh more!