Self. Where it all begins.
I remember when my daughter, Maddi, was little, people would often stop us in the grocery store or at the mall to comment on her dazzling blue eyes. On one particular day, while putting my groceries on the conveyor belt, a lady commented on her beautiful blue eyes and to my embarrassment, Maddi said in a very matter-of-fact voice, “I know.” My face turned several shades of red and I tried to explain to my 3-year old that you don’t say, “I know, but instead you say thank you.” I’m certain you can already see how this was going to go. After several more “I know” and corrections from me, Maddi caught on… sort of. The next compliment she received, she boldly stated with a smile beaming, “I know. Thank you!” Ay, ay, ay.
This moment is one of my fondest memories, partially because I smile at her innocence of accepting a compliment instead of declining or deflecting it. She owned a part of who she was. This is where it all begins.
I often observe how quick we are in society to squash any confidence as we so closely misalign it with being egotistical. These are two totally different things. Egotistical is to brag, have a chip on your shoulder and to think you are better than others.
While confidence is owning who you are and acknowledging those strengths! Something many of us could do more of in our life. Imagine school being a place where this occurred. A place where there was no need to bully or put others down because every student stood proudly in knowing who they are and being honored for their strengths!
As the title declares, the self is where it all begins. With our students, it is critical we learn about their strengths- their gifts, skills, and talents- and help them identify what those are and how they can change the world with those strengths! Our job- no- our obligation is to help each and every student develop those further, as well as identify how they might use their strengths to serve those around them and beyond.
As I remember where it all begins, we often put students into a box of reading, writing, math, and science… but our students are way more than that! What about our students who have an eye and a hand for art? Think for a moment, where would our world be without art? Pause for a moment and consider the many things impacted by art. It surrounds us in architecture, jewelry, museums, street murals, furniture, inventions, and so much more! Developing such skills in our students is crucial to the advancement of our world.
One of my favorite lines from a video by Prince Ea is, “Step into your greatness.” Imagine if every student was taught to step into their greatness. Step into who they are and identify how they use that greatness, that S.H.I.N.E.- those strengths- to live out the dreams they want to live and make our world a better place by using those gifts to serve. I’m giddy with excitement at the thought of this. Who is stopping our students from doing this? We are. It is time to get out of their way.
I challenge you to get to know the strengths of every one of your students.
I challenge you to use what you are required to teach through the use of their strengths.
I challenge you to help your students develop more of their confidence this year.
I challenge you to continue to develop your own strengths through new discoveries and what you already know and share those with your students.
I challenge you to allow your students to step into their greatness, to be proud of who they are, and to create a world where they say, “Thank you”, with confidence.
LaVonna Roth is the energetic personality behind Minds That Matter and is an internationally known brain-powered educational consultant, author, and presenter. She is a regular presenter at many events including the Common Core Institute and Center for College and Career Readiness. LaVonna has had the privilege of teaching 2nd through 8th grade, as well as serving several years as a Team Leader and Mentor Teacher. Much of LaVonna’s classroom success stemmed from how she managed her classroom and kept students engaged with effective hands-on lessons. She has also authored a lesson plan format (The 4i’s) that embeds brain research and supports the core elements of a lesson to make the difference in instruction and learning outcomes for students.