In a strength-based, work oriented classroom, students know that their work is valued, purposeful, and relevant. Not only are their tangible work samples (tests, quizzes, assignments and homework) valued, but also their work oriented psychological and physiological work oriented approaches.
When someone wants to talk about a work oriented classroom, it is imperative that they are one of the 13 million people who have watched Angela Lee Duckworth talk about “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” In her TED talk, she starts by defining teaching as a “more demanding job” than her previous management consulting corporate job. She proceeds to sound just like a new teacher at a conference or a veteran teacher who loves the job of teaching, “…I was firmly convinced that every one of my students could learn the material if they worked long and hard enough.”
The value of hard work is one of the most important skills adults can teach children. What is hard work? What does it look like? In a strength based classroom, students know that hard work does mean grit. According to Duckworth, “grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future–day in and day out…for years…to make that future a reality.”
Success comes with substantial effort and substantial hard work. Therefore, researchers do suggest that adults appreciate and value a child’s effort and hard work as much as the end result. Instead of a praise that involves the prize, “Wow! 1st Place!”, researchers are suggesting that we value the effort, “You worked hard for that prize!”
Oftentimes, students learn vicariously through the adults in their lives. So, it is important that public school educators model and emulate the hard work that we want to see in them, as well.
The author offers an excellent example describing the power and importance of the “Growth Mindset.” The article also suggests how important the teacher is in creating an environment where all children and young adults have the opportunity to create their own opportunities for success.
The greatest challenge and obstacle on the pathway to success is learning how to completely control our thoughts. Do you realize that you can literally think your way into success! The thoughts we allow and entertain in our own minds – whether they are positive or negative, believing or fearful, pure or immoral, dreaming or doubting – they will literally become our very actions. Over time, as we all know, our actions become habits – and it is our daily habits that determine and create our potential, character, and eventual destiny. Thus, any success in life – be it financial, academic, athletic, parental, social, emotional, and especially spiritual – is developed and determined by the thoughts we think on a continual basis.
Our potential in life is not determined by uncontrollable circumstances, racial characteristics, economic conditions, family dynamics, schools attended, or social connections – our potential is made or unmade by ourselves. In life, there really are no such things as circumstances – we create them. Do you actually believe William Henley when he said: “I am the captain of my fate, I am the master of my soul”? In order to take control of our fate, souls, and our very lives, we must first learn how to control our thoughts, eliminate fear and doubt, have a pure and clean mind, and ensure that every thought we think is positive, believing, and disciplined.
We are what we think! Thoughts and results are the exact same thing. Do you believe that? Do you realize that the most talented athletes are those who train their minds to focus, believe, and think big? Successful musicians, actors, and politicians have achieved greatness because they had faith and literally thought anything was possible. The wealthiest individuals who have ever lived have learned how to eliminate the thoughts of fear, doubt, and failure. Likewise, the hardened criminal or the sexual predators are simply living a life that is being dictated by the thoughts they entertain in their own minds.
The vast majority of people everywhere live far below their potential, not because of a lack of ability, talent, knowledge, or work ethic; but because they have not developed the ability to control and convert their thoughts into actions that lead to success. You can become and accomplish anything in life. Your goals and dreams are absolutely possible. Yes, it will require great effort and work on your part to achieve your dreams and realize success; however, most often people fail to put forth the work necessary because they don’t believe in themselves and that their dreams are even possible. As long as you believe and think that, your actions will reflect that mentality and success will never be accomplished. “Whether you think you can or you can’t – you are right” – and Henry Ford not only penned that, but he believed it and lived it; and ironically, after much failure and criticism from others, his company and charitable foundation (of billions of dollars) is still benefitting people across the globe.
So, what are your goals or dreams? What successes do you desire to achieve? Do you realize that you are capable of doing and accomplishing far more than you even think you can? We alone determine and create our own potential – and potential, greatness, and success not only start but are achieved in the mind. This is the great challenge on our pursuit to accomplish success – learning how to control our thoughts, eliminating the voices of fear and doubt, believing in ourselves and our dreams, thinking positively and thinking big. And yet ironically, controlling our thoughts requires daily effort. But thankfully, if we put forth this daily effort, we literally can become and accomplish anything if we not only realize the power of our thoughts but ensure that our thoughts convert to actions that lead to success.
Are there specific behaviors that are more likely to lead to a culture of success? Is it more beneficial to focus on what works as opposed to deficits? According to Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code, greatness is not a mystery but it does take practice. Coyle explains:
If you distilled all the new science about talent development into two words of advice, they would be “practice better.” The most basic truth is that if you practice better, you’ll develop your talent — and you won’t develop your talent unless you practice better.
The key is to find out what behaviors need to be practiced more than others.
For many teachers who are becoming strength-based advocates, it makes more sense to have students practice their talents than to have students spend time focusing on “so-called weaknesses and deficits.” Equally important, it makes sense for children and young adults to discover their strengths in a culture of success and independence and learn in an environment where they have the opportunity to achieve anything they want if they work hard, are self-reliant and most of all, continually practice.
Strength-based friendships seek teaching, learning and growth as mutual admiration leads the two into new, uncharted territories. Both seek one another’s strengths, and both are not quick to judge but instead seek to question, inquire and research. Both seek to build together. Collaborate together. Create together. Grow together, and most of all, succeed together. Wanted: More strength-based friendships.