Monday, January 16, 2012

Blue Monday Bright Spot

We all tend to focus on problems rather than strengths.  Very few of us spend time analyzing what we are doing well, so we can do more of it.  Instead we stare at our faults, our warts, our bad habits and weaknesses and try to fix them.  But Chip and Dan Heath in their book, Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard, note that especially in times of change (and surely there is no dispute that we are in the midst of profound change) there are problems everywhere, so focusing on them becomes a recipe for inaction.  Instead, we need to use our power of analysis to figure out what’s going well with an eye to doing more of it in the future.

We have a lot of Bright Spots in our schools, even on the most depressing day of the year, even when our plans come apart (for a million reasons) and our failures and disappointments loom large in our eyes.  As Senior Alternative teacher Ray Andrews said, the question about what’s going well was “a reminder that there have indeed been bright spots. For example, I have two students who are likely to achieve early graduation (Dogwoods, of course).”  According to extensive research, “An individual’s educational attainment is one of the most important determinants of their life chances in terms of employment, income, health status, housing and many other amenities,” so the opportunities opened to two students whose risks for dropping out were very high is a sun-glasses-on-it’s-so-bright  spot.  (See Cost of Dropping Out.)  Next: let’s ask the
students what worked and why they beat the odds.  And then – let’s do more of it!

Watch Dan Heath share how to find a bright spot.

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