Wednesday, June 8, 2016


This weekend

Susie and Justin

were set to meet up

with amazing friends.

G2Great Voxer group.


Rooftop brunch,


Justin has been a part

of this group for over a year

and had personally met

All but one

Of those attending.

Susie has been a part

Of G2Great Voxer for six months

And had not met


Of those attending

For both Susie and Justin

this group has transformed

their lives beyond

the field of education.  

Needless to say Susie

Wanted to make

A good first impression

Helping pave the way

For strong and successful


What if prior to the meeting

Justin had told

Erica, Jenn,

Jill, Amy and Kim

That Susie

Was someone who:

Keeps 20 plus tabs

Open on her computer

Over schedules herself

And, at times

Is overly sensitive?

How would that

Have affected

The group’s

First impression

Of Susie?


What if Justin

Started with Susie’s


By telling the group

That she is one of

The most passionate, empathetic,

And positive people

He Knows?

As someone who

Values Susie

As a person

Wouldn’t it be more

Logical for Justin to

Focus on

Susie’s strengths?

This question seems

So straightforward

And easy to answer

With this scenario

This time of year,

Teachers meet

To discuss student

Placements for the following year.


Don’t students want

To make a good

First impression

With their next year’s


Wouldn’t talking about their


Be more likely to

Set them up for success?

What are you saying about

Your students?

Are you starting with their strengths?

What would you want?




    1. 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.

  2. 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

    1. 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!)

  3. 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!

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    2. 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!

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  5. 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 :)

    1. 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! :)

  6. 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.

  7. 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!