Strength 2: Analytical

This is part of a series where I explore my top five strengths in detail and think of ways I can utilize them in the classroom. Check out the intro post hereThe two books I reference in this post are “Strengths Finder 2.0” by Tom Rath and “Teach With Your Strengths” by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller.

This strength explains why I plan on doing so much research with each step for my summer goal. And why I get all “ga-ga” over someone showing me methods of collecting and tracking data. Basically, I love evidence, data, getting down to the root cause of a problem, and questioning ideas (49 Rath). This isn’t to say I don’t have wishful thinking type ideas, it just means that I do the research to turn the wishful thinking into a more realistic plan. And then I can share those ideas with others and satisfy my relator strength. I need to be careful that I don’t just analyze and collect data – that I actually follow through with action. If need be, I should find someone who pushes me into action. A good person to partner with would be someone with the Activator strength. (51 Rath)

Things I can help do for my students with this strength include pointing out cause-and-effect, being the “voice of reason” when students get “emotionally charged,” explain my thinking process when figuring things out, and help my students see the path they need to be on to succeed (77-78 Liesveld & Miller). One thing I want to try to get better at is teaching my students to use their learning styles to help them learn in any environment. My analytical strength can help with that by talking through the process of what I do to learn in an environment that doesn’t automatically meet my learning style. I can also give them data and examples of how to do this in all kinds of situations with all different styles of learning.

Perhaps I should explain my reasoning behind each rule/routine to my students which could allow them to benefit and perhaps even be more invested in following them. Or at least know that the rule isn’t for nothing, even if they don’t agree with the reasoning. I’ve been reading a book “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek that so far talks about the importance of starting with the reasoning behind something, then the how, then the what, instead of the other way around. This strength could make it easy for me to do that in the classroom.

What suggestions do you have for applying the analytical strength in the classroom? I can see how it can be used to research classroom management techniques and lesson planning idea, but I would love to read your ideas on how I can use it in the actual classroom as I design my classroom management plan.

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Strength 1: Relator

This is part of a series where I explore my top five strengths in detail and think of ways I can utilize them in the classroom. Check out the intro post hereThe two books I reference in this post are “Strengths Finder 2.0” by Tom Rath and “Teach With Your Strengths” by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller.

The relator is all about building up close relationships (145 Rath). These are the people that are more happy having a few close friends than a bunch of casual friends. This means that I am comfortable with intimacy, only value genuine relationships, excel at building lasting trust, and have a desire to really get to know the people I interact with regularly (145 Rath). In my case, those people would be my students. This means I need to make sure to implement a system where I can get to know my students and they can get to know me – just not too much. I need to have firm boundaries going in of off-limits topics or I know I will be open about anything and everything. I need to know what these limits are beforehand. I like the idea of encouraging others to also make deeper connections with each other, so I need a system in place that encourages my students to make that connection with one another, but also allows me to spend one-on-one time with students to get to know them better. I also want to incorporate a way for students to get to know me, within the limits that I set. I may want to think about making this system more informal than formal, if I can. (149-151 Liesveld & Miller) Although I know that structure is absolutely necessary in a classroom, looking back, I do believe that I enjoyed having some informal systems in my classroom. As long as I can find a way to keep them well-managed.

Watching this video on relators has helped me realized more about my relator-self. I am not a shy person, I’m just not as good with interacting with people on a casual level as I am on a deeper level. Once I pass that threshold, I’m good. A good trick would be to have others introduce me to people (which I actually do that sometimes). I think another good trick would be to ask questions that show an interest in their lives and find a window to open up about my own life. I don’t want to ask too many questions, because that can push others away, but I also want to be able to show an interest.

An idea that the video gave me is to do frequent check-ins with my students. He used to do weekly check-ins with his employees on a one-on-one basis, and I really like that idea. I probably wouldn’t try to do them weekly for every student, but maybe I could make monthly work or just once every 6 weeks. We can look at personal progress in class and with their goals and behavior. It would also be a good check-in to make sure their needs are getting met.

What are your suggestions on how I can incorporate some of these systems in the classroom? I would love to read your ideas on how to let my relator talent shine, but still make sure that everyone is getting the attention they need.

 

Step 1: Understanding My Strengths

This is step one in my summer goal to conquer classroom management.

When I was first hired, my principal had me take the strengths finders test and gave me a book, “Strengths Finder 2.0” by Tom Rath. It’s based on the idea that you can only build up something you’re not naturally good at so much, but if you work on something you have a natural talent for, you can build it up to the max. It also takes less effort (or at least feels like less effort) and is more encouraging to build up a strength rather than a weakness. They use the formula “Talent X Investment = Strength” to show that if you have a low talent, even if you invest a lot in building up that talent, it can still only get so strong. But imagine the strength if you put a high investment in something that is already a high talent! That’s what I will be focusing on in this post series: my top five strengths and how I can best utilize them in the classroom. The idea is that this will help me figure out how I want/need my classroom to work which will help me build up my classroom management plan. I may also spend some time figuring out what my lesser talents are so I can be aware of things that probably won’t work for me. I can also see if any of my teacher partners have strengths that I am weak in and learn to rely more on them in those areas (23 Rath).

In addition to the strengths finder website and the book, I will be using “Teach With Your Strengths” by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller as a resource for studying my strengths. There is also a Gallup Strengths Center YouTube Channel that I will be checking out since they have informational videos on all the strengths. Some of what I record here will be specific ideas from one of those resources and some will be my own reflections and epiphanies on what I read and watch.

I will be looking at each strength one day at a time so I can really dive into the depths of each strength. My top five strengths in order are: Relator, Analytical, Individualization, Responsibility, and Intellection.

Please let me know if you have any other resources for me to check out while I’m on this journey of self-discovery.

My Summer Goal: To Conquer Classroom Management

I just finished up with my first year of teaching, and even though my administrators, co-teacher, and colleagues said my classroom management was good, I feel it could be a lot better. I often felt overwhelmed at how “out of control” my class was. Students NEVER worked until the bell, several of them were cheating, many spent more time on phones than on work, and my test grades were so bad (in my opinion) that I didn’t feel like they were really learning anything. I know that getting students to learn starts with classroom management. Even though I have dreams of making all my own unique lessons, doing more hands on learning and move labs, switching to standards based grading, and differentiating instruction; my goal for this summer is to focus on conquering classroom management. That’s not to say I won’t spend any time on unique lesson plans, implementing standards based grading, or trying to differentiate some of my lessons. I will. But my primary focus will be on classroom management. Besides, I can’t fully hone classroom management if I don’t know what my lessons will at least somewhat look like so I know what I want my students to be doing.

That being said, there will be several steps to this and since I also miss writing, and for me writing helps me better reflect and think things out, I will be blogging my progress as I go in order to help me along. The least this will do is help me out. The best this will do is help others out. And if you are reading along as I go, please comment any reflections that you have. Anything that stands out to you. Anything that you have tried and loved or have tried and didn’t work. Anything you think you want to try. Or any questions on details I leave out or why I thought to do a thing in the first place. I would love to hear from you. And now, onto the steps I am planning out (which will likely change as I go on).

I’m thinking step one will start with myself. When she first hired me, my principal had me take the Strength Finders test and gave me a book so I could read about my results. The idea is to figure out your top 5 strengths and learn to utilize them in your job (in this case, teaching). That way, you’re building up what you’re naturally good at, leading you to be more successful than if you tried to build up things you are not naturally good at which can make you feel more like a failure because that’s a lot more difficult. In order to understand how I want my class to look, I need to reflect on what my strengths are and how those could be utilized for my own unique teaching and classroom management style.

Step two will be figuring out basic rules for my classroom. These will need to communicate my expectations to my students. It will probably start out with guidelines to be successful in my class and then specific ways to follow those guidelines. I also need a good attention signal. I will want to reflect on my ideals. What positive traits do I like to see in others that I would want to encourage in my students? Those will help me set my rules and regulations and let me know what’s important to me. Knowing what’s important to me will help me distinguish what is worth consequence and reward in my classroom.

Step three will be a correction plan for misbehavior. What kind of consequences I will have in place for certain behaviors. And ones for unpredictable behavior (these kids are creative when it comes to pushing the rules haha). What kind of data and documentation I will want to/be willing to do. I know documentation can take up a lot of time, but it can also save your butt. Plus it helps me remember things since there are too many things to remember as a teacher.

Step four will be figuring out a reward/motivation system. What I want to reward, how frequently, what kind of rewards I don’t want, and if I will let students pick or vote on rewards. I need an individual one and a class-wide one. Something that will allow students to feel inclusive and part of the whole as they work together towards a common goal.

In step five I will figure out my beginning and ending routine. I have to keep in mind that these students like to start packing up and lining up at the door 5-10 minutes before the bell – thinking there isn’t enough time to get anything done. Maybe I could start by showing them how much work can be done in 1 minute or even 30 seconds to help them realize how much time is being wasted standing at the door. Plus it’s a huge pet peeve of mine and I don’t want to be fighting the students daily about it like I did last year.

I supposed step six will be routines for everything else. Handling group work, passing out and in papers, missing work, behavior during independent work, and anything else my research leads me to add.

I believe that’s it. If you noticed I missed something, please let me know. Please also feel free to share resources on any of the steps for me to look at while I’m working on that step. I imagine each step will take a few days minimum and possibly multiple blog posts. We shall see. I have books and other resources from my school and from trainings I’ve done. Plus the entire internet. I will post my references best I can. Thanks for reading.

The Journey Begins

Thank you for joining me! This blog will focus on specifics for my classroom and teaching in general. I would love to read ideas from other teachers, parents, and any individual interested in the education system and how it works. Please join me as I figure out classroom management, learning styles, differentiation, standards based grading, and inquiry learning.

If failure is not an option, than neither is success. – Seth Godin

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