I am excited to have a guest post today from HCPSS Coordinator of School Counseling Lisa Boarman. Lisa has been in education for almost 35 years and with Howard County for 25. Below, she reflects on Howard County Public Schools’ successful professional development training with Gallup, an initiative that’s a created an energizing strengths-based culture in the district.
By Lisa Boarman, HCPSS coordinator of School Counseling
Do you get to use your strengths every day? Many people have to drag themselves out of bed each morning because they go to a job where they’re not using their strengths. Using your strengths every day is critical to engagement and productivity. It’s not rocket science but in a school setting, an engaged teacher will create engaged students, which will ultimately impact student achievement. According to Gallup research, students become less engaged as they progress through school. Howard County Public Schools is partnering with Gallup to increase staff and student engagement to reverse this trend.
In August, I had the opportunity to attend a three-day training at Gallup headquarters in Washington, D.C. to become a Strengths Coach. As part of the training, we took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 to identify our five dominant talents. What an eye opening experience! Gallup says that a strength is the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance in a specific activity. The key to building a strength is to identify dominant talents, then complement them by acquiring knowledge and skills pertinent to the activity. I am fortunate that I work in an environment where I get to use my strengths every day. My number one strength is Maximizer. Being a Maximizer means that I am committed to excellence. I focus on what is strong and work around what is weak. I value quality as much as quantity. I want to take things from good to great. If you ask my colleagues if this strength is accurate for me, they would chuckle because it’s SO accurate. I’m constantly looking for ways to exceed the current standard. I don’t waste time fixing weaknesses. I always want to do my best! Discipline is another one of my strengths. I love to make lists and stick to them. Focusing on my personal strengths is empowering
Since the training, our school counseling leadership team, including our secretary, has taken the StrengthsFinder 2.0. We display our top five strengths on our office doors with a brief description of each strength. Knowing each other’s strengths helps us work more efficiently and effectively. One of us has Arranger as one of her strengths, which means she’s skilled at putting all of the pieces together to get the best results. Another team member has Harmony as one of her strengths. She always tries to find a point of common agreement in any situation. As we work as a team, we try to take on responsibilities that allow us to utilize our strengths. It’s amazing how much more satisfied you are with your daily work when you get to use your strengths. On the rare occasions that I don’t get to use my strengths during the workday, I go home feeling exhausted and drained. The next step is to help students understand their own strengths. This year, our counselors will be rolling out StrengthsExplorer® in Naviance and we’ll be training counselors on how to use the results with students.
Since attending the training at Gallup, I find myself looking for ways to help people identify their strengths. Focusing on strengths helps all of us to be more productive and more engaged in our work, and learning about strengths has energized me and makes me excited to go to work each day. Try using your strengths every day and see if it makes a difference for you.