For most people the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the word “strong” is raw strength, such as muscles. But when we hear the phrase “Play to your strengths”, most people don’t mean play to your raw strength, but rather what you are good at.
As a future teachers, I want my students to feel empowered, that they have a say in how they learn, and that their strengths can shine in a classroom. This is an incredibly hard process because every students is unique, and has their own strengths and weaknesses.
How do we build on their strengths as teachers?
There are lots of ways to help our students discover their strengths.
- Doing student info cards is one great way to learn about our students
- Asking them interesting and unique questions (and the obvious general ones) lets you learn a lot about them
- Have them take a StrengthFinders style of test
- This let’s you learn how to play to your student’s strengths since you know them
- Can help you learn who to give more focus on if they are struggling (they might be able to effectively learn the way you are teaching them)
- Identify where your students are struggling on an individual basis
- Did they do well on this assessment when you used this method for teaching?
- If not, they may be struggling to learn that way, especially if it repeats
- Did they do well on this assessment when you used this method for teaching?
- Ask students if they learn better in certain ways, they may surprise you with good answers
Wisdom from @EmiliaLahti, who shared her research into sisu on #MPPW. Listen to the interview here: https://t.co/52JzwUcN5j #pospsych pic.twitter.com/rRtJ1ME2Te
— Michelle McQuaid (@chellemcquaid) September 18, 2017
I was able to take a StrengthFinders assessment to discover what my strengths were. While this exact test wouldn’t be feasible in my classroom because it is almost $20 for a one time test, it’s great for a teacher to discover their strengths. Knowing my strengths makes me a better teacher as it will show me what I am strong at, and what I need to improve to be a more effective teacher.
Includers are very accepting of others and know when someone is left out, and work to get them involved.
Being an includer gives me the benefit of being able to identify students that are feeling unimportant, left out, and even rejected by their classmates. I can empathize with their situation and work to keep them included. Bringing diversity in everything for my students and having people find commonalities among each other are strong characteristics. Cooperative learning will be an incredibly effective tool in my classroom as it is one oft he best ways for me to get students working together and getting to know each other beforehand.
Developers are constantly trying to improve the people around them. They see the potential in them and derive satisfaction from helping them improve their strengths and seeing an evidence of progress.
Developer seems to be a common trait for teachers. They seek to find the best in their students and work them towards improving themselves. As teachers we are always excited to see the “lightbulb” over a student’s head. That feeling is the satisfaction that they can and will improve with hard work and time.
Positivity, as the name suggests, means this person has an upbeat personality and a contagious enthusiasm. They are talented at getting people excited at what they are going to do.
This one would have been a shock to me a few years ago. I was a much more pessimistic person back then. While I still have some pessimism (I’m realistic), I’m also more positive on everything in life. I want others to be happy and excited about what is going on rather than feeling doom and gloom. I want people to each feel individually recognized as a person, not just another cog on the machine of life.
Arrangers have the ability to organize well, but they are also flexible and willing to take time on figuring out how everything works together. This is all in an effort to maximize productivity.
I tend to see myself as a fairly organized person. I struggle at times at keeping myself completely organized, but most people aren’t able to. I’ve always felt that no matter how much I plan and arrange everything perfectly, I’m also willing to go with the flow to make everything work out. This gives me an insight into having an organized day, but I’m also prepared to improv my way through a day if necessary.
Maximizers are straightforward. They want to produce excellence in everything they do. They are successful at doing so with others, but also themselves.
This strength shocked me. While I was always oriented at doing the best I could, I never thought I was very successful at it. I know how to bring out the excellence in others much better than I do in myself. I can push students to thrive and improve themselves constantly, and encourage them to do the best work that they can to learn and be excellent learners
The Big Take Away
Every individuals strengths are important, but being strong doesn’t mean that you need to be able to lift 300 lbs of weights. But rather, you are willing to identify what you are good at and then play to those strengths. Weaknesses are important too, often times they are more important than knowing what you are good at. Once you know what you aren’t going to be as successful at doing, then you can improve yourself and work around those weaknesses. It’s never too late to maximize your strengths, but include your weaknesses.
Michele L. Sullivan reminds us the importance of seeking help, and working together. That your strengths and your weaknesses don’t weigh you down, but rather give you more ways to work with others that complement you. Walking in another person’s shoes and getting to know them are the ways that we thrive as individuals in the classroom and in the world.
Thanks! Each strength is unique to each person and I really wanted to put that across! Each person is going to use their strengths differently and be able to define them differently, and I loved that! Describing myself in each trait allows me to understand how to describe my students as well!
Thanks! I would love to allow students to work in groups where each of their individual strengths can shine. I also love the idea of being able to differentiate for my students based on their strengths. Those that work well together will be better at group work than those that are more of an individual style of person!
I agree! Working on your strengths is super important. Recognizing that you have weaknesses is also important. But we often focus too much on our weaknesses and ignore the strengths that we have. But if we work harder on building those strengths, then the weaknesses won’t matter as much anymore!
I really like the quote you used about developing your strengths, not eliminating your weaknesses. I think this is very applicable to the StrengthsFinder Test. In the test, you are given your top 5 strengths. This is done so that you can focus on those and improve upon them. It doesn’t give you your worst 5 strengths. This is because the creators know that you are likely to focus on improving your weaknesses instead of developing your strengths. If it listed all of your strengths, you may read the first couple at the top, but would likely quickly scroll down to the bottom to see your weaknesses.
All of your graphics and quotes were so great as they tied in what you were discussing perfectly. I love how you talked about how to identify a student’s strengths and then discussed how each of your strengths will help you as a teacher. How would you take each student’s individual strengths and engage and utilize them in a class setting once you identified them? Great blog!
Your focus and expansion on your strengths was a great way for you to take this blog post. As much as you can try to boil a person down to their most simple of traits, everybody’s got their own personal style and ideas, and I saw you expanding this in your explanations for each strength you have. Like, you’re not just a positive person, you’re “Dillon Frank positive”. This personal flare will serve you well in the classroom!