PERFECT!EVERYONE MUST READ THIS!!!
Thanks so much Fran! This piece kind of wrote itself. That happens when what you write about is at the core of your belief system.
Just as in conferring where you start with compliments, Teachers should start with strengths when placing students. And Susie, 20 tabs is too much. LOL
Absolutely agree, Jennifer (with the conferring, not the tabs!) Justin has told me again and again, if I can have 20 open at once and still function...more power to me. (But I do think I work better with fewer on my screen! It is on my "to work on" list!)
In this day and age where test scores have been elevated to an absurd level of misplaced importance, we can easily miss the gifts that each child brings to learning (and they are MANY). Regardless of a district or school focus, it is OUR responsibility to shift our focus back to students. No excuses. No yeah BUTS. Just personal and professional focus where it really matters. PERIOD!
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wow! Dr. Mary Howard...Could we make this into a t-shirt or banner or both? Test scores don't give us the depth of information that listening and observing does. We have to be miners as Gravity Goldberg says. (Imagine the band around the head with the big light on the front!) We must, must, must search for STRENGTHS!
Oh how I wish I had read this post prior to walking into a recent classroom placement meeting w/colleagues. I am sad to admit that there were far fewer comments around strengths & compliments made than comments of weaknesses and deficiencies. While of course it is our desire to bring all students to their greatest potential, we must remember that each and every time we gather to discuss students, that positivity is where all conversations must begin. Thank you for this post, Susie & Justin! And Susie, if my computer would run decently, I would have 40 tabs open at all times - we are truly kindred spirits :)
We all have done this type of talk, Dani. It is so built into our schools. Love to think about the student sitting in on these meetings...what would we want them to hear?...It is a shift, and many times shifts are hard...but we think this one is so worth it. (oh and PS, I wondered why my computer was slow! :)
This post ends with quite a powerful punch. We should be thoughtful when we talk about students. I had a transfer student this year that was represented by nothing but negativity. I refused to let it cloud my own judgement. I ended up being an advocate for him. Thanks for this reminder.
Margaret, how lucky is that student to have you highlighting his strengths and being his advocate! If we all stand back and view this process from afar, it is hard to refute that importance of focusing on strengths, but when we are in the middle of a culture that focuses on deficits it is easy to falter. Bravo to you, Margaret for being true to your best teacher self!