Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Looking at my Strengths...

I view my strengths, as Marcus Buckingham has suggested, as those things about which I am passionate and that build me up as a person.  In my career at CAPS, the Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies, we spend a lot of time looking at programs such as “Strengthfinder,” “Wayfinder,” “Management by Strengths, “ “True Colors,” etc. as ways to manage our own passions in working with future students/leaders and to shape our curriculum outcomes in our goals of working with our students.
As a part of our professional development, I was able to take the Strengthsfinder survey as a staff member.  This gave me some insight into my personal drive and views of success.
In the Fall of 2016, I was a part of a group of educators selected nationwide to write a national curriculum for Educators Rising (www.educatorsrising.org) which included not only a curriculum but also a set of micro-credentials to be used to assess teacher readiness and effectiveness.  As a part of that group, we again had the opportunity to take the Strengthfinder survey as a means to develop our successful operation in teams for the purpose of systematically developing the curriculum.
My top five “strengths,” as defined by the survey remarkably fit my habits and thought processes.  I was excited to finally put my passions into some understandable terms.  The list included, in order, Input, Achiever, Intellection, Maximizer, and Ideation.  Upon reading the descriptions of each, I found myself laughing and say, “yes,” often.  I feel that the categories hit the proverbial nail on the head in terms of who I am and what I consider strengths and how I manage my weaknesses.
This particular category states that I am inquisitive, always want to know more, and see myself as a voracious collector who hoards ideas and belongings in order to save things that may be needed later.  It was nice to learn that having this as a high strength made me a natural fit to be a teacher, researcher, or journalist.  Truly, it seems that my career choice so long ago totally fit who I am as a person.
Ironically, the description also alluded to the idea that I should accept that I will never know everything and that I should surround myself with people who are disciplined and can somewhat “corral” my sporadic thoughts for a purpose. 
I think that doubting my ability to know everything is definitely a weakness that I have managed, and I find it funny that I have done that in my career by seeking out really disciplined people to help me direct my learning.  I think that is how I have managed that part of myself that houses that constant doubt.
Again, the survey results mentioned that surrounding myself with disciplined people can help to direct my efforts.  I constantly need to achieve and am mad at myself if I let down to relax without finishing a task I must complete.  Working on my Ph.D. has even made this worse for me.  I find myself segmenting my time during the day so that I can have long periods of time to read, write, or reflect.  While this would appear to be a good form of discipline, I find that my mind wonders frequently, and I can be distracted easily.  Perhaps this is a weakness that fights against that achievement.  Again, surrounding myself with driven people tends to keep me on track and work on that focus I desperately need. 
This screams Tammy…having a LOT of mental activity but sometimes with a lack of focus.  I tend to come up with lots of ideas, and it frustrates me when others don’t jump on the wagon of what I think is a great idea.  Reading about this as one of my strengths lead me to realize that not everyone connects the dots as I do or as quickly as I do.  This is so true to my personality. 
I had to think back to the interview transcript we read of the Google employee who talked about the rapid creation, continued ideation model.  I would thrive in that type of environment.  Many times, I will dive into something without thinking it through, but eventually it morphs into something even better than it would have formed with much careful planning at the start.  While I realize that this is dangerous, I see it now as a strength as an iterative form of thinking and development!  One way I think I could better manage what some see here as a weakness in planning is to keep a log or diary along the way to follow my thought process.  I am working on a blog for that purpose.
Also, I have found success in jotting down random thoughts at night if I have a lot on my mind and can’t sleep.  Example?  Here is such a rant of random thoughts from just last night.  Please don’t judge…remember my weakness of doubting…J  I often find it relaxing and freeing to speak into the “notes” option on my phone…
The jilted cloud no technology how many students in high school teacher at prep programs continue the effects of current teacher education on entrepreneurial mindset of teachers how technology integration levels determine entrepreneurial to the Teachered teachers at the technology dance with your partner the day time stood still lots of technology and the day technology was taken hostage The three little rigs the three little zigs 
The secret lives of megabytes a monumental laugh. Hiding behind a cloud the truth about TEACHER's fears of technology why David hates school technology for sissies the big bully
The fistfight fistfights jacks and other recess horror stories we missed recess recession and Schools
Leaning forward lean principles of entrepreneurism in instructional design within classrooms leaning over the edge
When lean doesn't mean lean
The diary of a tech phrase teacher memorizing the Gettysburg address memorizing sentence writing and learning to survive in the real world it's like riding a bike
Leaving love the conscious decision making of divorce
Strengthening your purpose leading with the self volcano in the cloud unpredictable state of technology I remember the student who brought the volcano he worked hard to form it =looks so real and we were all intrigued I asked him about how the eruption would occur and was told that all it would do would trickle down the sides--however when lit exploded and burned holes in the classroom carpet...
Crazy hair days the many sides of the month and teacher so many classrooms so many faces so many
The world is a bully and students realization of the real world real world bully some misconceptions of minor did you Keeshan lost at sea visual learners struggle to survive the making you an entrepreneur changing learnings paradigms
Educational branding sending our students to the slaughterhouse but I want to be an artist how we unintentionally shape the lives of her and deserving students. For the love of the same way educational reform does it happen shopping across Town the dangers of school choice. The face in the mirror how shaving your students views of them selves impact their futures the cost of lost the price we pay for 30 students away

Sent from my iPhone
The last two categories fit me as well:  Maximizer and Ideation
As a Maximizer, I am a proponent of “rapid learning,” (which I again attribute to rapid prototyping) and I seek out opportunities to help others succeed, ie. teaching and coaching.  In addition, I am definitely one who focuses on strengths and not weaknesses.  Rather than realizing that I may have issues with organizing or directing my thoughts, I love the fact that I can come up with lots of ideas or tasks to try and manage organization and direction by looking to other focused people to help in that area.  I like to come up with ideas and then have students make sense of how to approach them!
In terms of Ideation, I love to find connections, and nothing makes me happier than finding a way to accomplish something in a manner different than presented to me.  For example, I have used CANVAS as a learning management system with my students for the past two years.  We have used the free version.  I found that my students had to open up multiple calendar entries to try to find activities listed for a particular day.  I knew that I could come up with a way to fix this, so I created a “searchable database.”  Very simplistically, I paste each day’s activities, chronologically, on a separate webpage as I place them in our CANVAS calendar.  Students can use the CTRL+F option to search for a term in the activity, and they are taken right to the information.  I felt proud that I could create this help feature for my students, something that CANVAS had not even supplied for them.
By digging deeper into the Strengthsfinder system and by reflecting on my own practices, I feel that I have a handle on what makes me tick and how I handle my passions and also those things that seem less important to me but are necessary to participate in the professional realms in which I place myself.