Attending so many conferences, there is a common theme that you will hear from most.
How do we get our students better at school?
They might not say that straight out, but it is the underlying narrative.
What I do not hear enough is, “How do we start to find the brilliance and talents in each of our students?”
Here is an easy solution to the latter question.
If you start by looking for the strengths and talents of each of your students, the “school” part will get much easier. Too often I hear about “response to intervention” meetings and how they constantly focus on how to fix the weaknesses of the students they serve. This is not a good way to start a conversation.
Look for the strengths first. If people know they are valued, the other “stuff” will come. But, let’s just say it doesn’t. Then we will have students who might not be “awesome at school”, but will walk out knowing what they are strong at and it has been developed because of school. Do we want our students to walk out being good at school or help them become and continue to be good at life?
This quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson resonates:
“What lies behind us, and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.”
Are we helping students discover what lies within themselves?
I am not saying “ignore the weaknesses”. I am just saying that it is a horrible place to start.
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