When I'm teaching I feel like I am in my sweet spot when I am talking to my class and trying to motivate them with thoughts about how good they can be. Many times students will make bad choices because deep down inside they have given up or they don't believe in our class or school. I like being confronted with these challenges because I feel like it is an opportunity for a paradigm shift in students' attitude and behavior. The ironic thing is that I did not like speaking in class when I was a student until college. Up to that point I would get nervous about how I would be perceived by other students or the teacher if I spoke up in class. I did not feel like it was one of my strengths, which is why I somewhat disagree with Marcus Buckingham's strengths focused approach. I understand his philosophy and theoretically there is merit to focusing on what you do well to achieve greatness in your work. However, if I had taken that approach, I would never have taken my communications and leadership classes in college to improve upon my ability to publicly speak and I would not currently feel it is one of my strengths if I had not been forced to address my fears and shortcomings. Instead of strengths focused I'd rather be God focused and believe through Him that all things are possible.
I've never really felt totally out of my area of strength while teaching. I've always felt confident that I had the knowledge, passion, and leadership ability to get the job done. When I began my teaching career I obviously was lacking experience which resulted in mistakes that I had to learn from. In those moments of frustration and despair I did feel out of my strength, but I always had the belief that I could turn it around and make it right. Marcus Buckingham is right that in those moments I would focus on my strength, passion, to overcome my organizational mistakes. However, if I never learned to be more organized in how I prepare and execute lesson plans, I wouldn't be the teacher I am today. I would be that crazy passionate teacher that was fun to be in class with, but would I really be giving students the best learning experience? I don't think so. I propose that we continue to focus on our strengths as the foundation of our work, but we need to continue to improve in our areas of weakness to truly reach our potential in our profession.