This week I chose a fantastic teacher to blog with my friend and colleague Tonya Caswell. This challenge was a wonderful experience that brought the best out in both of us.
This idea of teaching to the strengths of a child and not their weaknesses has such a positive spin from the negative, what you can't do mentality. I think I have always used this when working with students to help build their confidence within the classroom.
There needs to be a culture shift away from focusing on what kids can’t do. It starts from the top down. Standardized testing results is driving our instruction. Our funding depends on standardized testing results. Which causes a teach to the test mentality. That does not allow us to focus on student strengths. It seems to create this manic pressure to perform well. We take time away from good first instruction to practice the TEST! We are not prioritizing the development of a growth mindset, we are focusing on proficiency and task completion. Due to the weight these tests are given to determine schools’ success, in reporting results the media only focuses on what our kids can’t do. This results in communities that focus on failure.
Innovators are those that are performing under these constraints, but prioritize developing life long learners through the modeling of using a growth mindset and building on students strengths and interests. Teachers who know their students and leaders who know their staff build stronger learning communities.
Nothing good comes from working in isolation.
Thank you Tonya for your opinions and thoughts.