Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Strengths > Weaknesses

Good Evening! I am excited to be writing my second blog post. Today ended with a nice snowfall and my evening SPED class was canceled. It is nice to be home before 7pm for the first time this week. I decided to name this blog Strengths > Weaknesses because today I thought about the amount of times educators ( including myself) are drawn to pointing out a student's weakness. As a special education teacher I desegregate data, analyze skills deficits, and see comparisons in normed data. However, I had a remarkable thought today concerning the importance of student strengths. I vividly remember always standing a tad taller when a teacher told me something positive about my classwork or solid work ethic in a class. I firmly believe all students want to hear something positive about themselves. It is crucial to build a student's self-efficacy up and increase their self-resiliency in confronting challenging/rigorous work. I commit to always say at least 2 positive things to a student each day and let them know I notice the great things they are doing. Also, I think creating a climate of positivity increases the affective filter of students. Students ( Ells, Sped, and otherwise) already come in with many home, academic, and mental health challenges. I believe we must lift our student's spirits and use their strengths as a strategy to improve their weaknesses. For example, I have a student who is a very gifted artist, loves rap, and enjoys graffiti. I wonder what if we combined these interests and strengths into the curriculum/instruction. What might be the potential impact or ramifications for culturally responsive teaching? I am hoping with my increased use of positivity and positive affirmation techniques, my students will begin to further make progress and realize they have the power to use their strengths on their weaknesses. Strengths are more powerful than weaknesses. Strengths make a person feel good, confident, and proud. Every person deserves to feel these adjectives in school. Finally, I'd like to share that I am reading a book my AP gave me ( when I have spare free time) about adolescents. I find it very interesting how different biological time clocks, the way parents raise children, and technology has changed children in such a short period of time. I always remember my mom telling me about her days in school. My mom said that everyone behaved and if she did one wrong thing, the school would call her mom and she would come and smack her. I don't believe in those tactics, however it makes me curious about the ever-changing dynamics of social behavior among our young scholars. I'm not sure how educators can change how parents raise their kids or how one can make a national platform on adolescent behavior. However, I do know that teachers have the power or realm of control to make a difference. Teachers can model, teach, and mentor students to make small differences each day and better themselves. I always tell my students they must have self-respect first. A person must love themselves and have true self-respect to hold themselves to high standards and accountability. I try my best to teach my students to love themselves and take pride in who they are. Yes, students witness tragic and difficult events at home/community, but they are in control of their actions/words. Again, I think all lines intersect at relationships. Human connections are essential to creating a cultivating environment that fosters the development of intra-personal relationships and respect for one's self. I encourage others to spread positivity and say a positive thing to each student in class. I learned this year from practice to always start with positive descriptive academic feedback before a negative one. In the framing of the negative feedback, I try to twist it to make it sound more encouraging. I'll end today's blog with this quote:  “I gave [my students] a saying to say: I am somebody. I was somebody when I came. I’ll be a better somebody when I leave. I am powerful, and I am strong. I deserve the education that I get here." - Dr. Rita Pierson.  In conclusion, my mission is to get my students to truly believe in this and say it themselves. I hope everyone has a wonderful night!

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of looking at kids through the lens of strengths, as opposed to deficits. And especially given that so many of your kids are told, verbally and non verbally, about their deficits on a way too regular basis! Would love to hear more about the book you are reading. I'm listening to a book about the adolescent brain that VT gave me. It's really interesting!