Last summer, as part of my personalized summer PD, I participated in a book study through Voxer and Twitter on “The Multiplier Effect” by Wiseman, Alan and Foster.
While the book has opened up a new vocabulary jargon for me, (The Talent Finder, The Gatekeeper, etc.) it’s also allowed me to peer inside my own head; to ask myself, which one am I?
As with all things personality, I probably flex between them.
As I continued to read more on the Talent Finder v. The Gatekeeper, I concluded that most of the teachers I knew and have worked with who were customarily The Talent Finders were the Special Education teachers.
Once a Special Ed teacher, always a Special Ed teacher…
That statement is not a slap in the face to special education teachers. We know who we are. We choose to support the underdog for our vocation. Collectively, we are proud of our mission to reach each child, regardless of his/her strengths or weaknesses.
I’m a Talent Finder
I, like many of my counterparts, look to find the talent each student brings to my class. I’ve never really fallen into labeling my students. I think I avoid the labeling thing because it doesn’t serve me well. My empathy toward the struggling student is home grown; I’d wished that a teacher would have befriended my children in a way that Coach White did (McFarland, USA). No one did, and I was disappointed. Perhaps that’s why I’m a Talent Scout; diligently seeking out those who would look beyond. Those willing to work with a group of diverse thinkers to find a better outcome.
Labeling children always seemed counterproductive and dishonest to me. I learned this when I was an undergrad. I was assigned a reading practicum in an elementary school in Paterson, NJ. I saw first hand, for the very first time, how many hurdles some children have to overcome before they even set foot in the door. I think, too, that we think only the urban kids have a life full of hurdles, when, in fact, many of our non-urban students are struggling with parents who are divorcing, abusive, placing unreasonable parental demands on their children and sometimes students placing unreasonable demands on themselves.
But finding what each student brings to table? To find out what they were good at always made us both feel good about coming to class.
I want my students to want to come to class.
Although we have days that we may feel under recognized, I don’t want my students to feel that way, ever. I’ve realized that if I have helped a student feel better about themselves and his work, then I can go home feeling I’ve made a contribution that day.
If I can help them see what they’re good at, help know that I ‘see’ them, then I go home a happy camper.
Administrative Talent Finders
I had the opportunity to work with one administrator who was a true Talent Finder. He’s the one who inspired me, during my second swing through this career, to pursue administration and supervision. He had great vision. I believe great vision must be supported by a great communication strategy. Twitter has helped districts share their story, share their work, enabling their communities to experience the great work going on in their buildings.
Being a Talent Finder means the teachers and administrators must value traits like multiple intelligence, integrity, grit, and be what Wise, Allen & Foster call “Talent Scouts”.
Administrator Talent Scouts who value talent diversity find ways to identify top talent and recruit them as well.
Talent Scouts who appreciate the talent of their staff and help them use their talents, build reputation that draw in top talent. People want to work with Talent Scouts; their reputation for supporting talent diversity makes them a natural recruitment engine.
What it Takes
An individual who has the executive skills of targeted task completion through collaboration and reflective abilities to self correct, who embraces a diversely talented workforce would make a pretty awesome leader.
In Education Leader, March, 2016, career coach Emilie Wapnick writes about a struggle I, too, have faced since I was a child. Wapnick (2016, p 10) writes, “Asking ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ may seem like an innocuous question to ask young children to get them thinking about their future. But what does this question mean to children with a large number of interests?” (Educational Leader, 2016, p 10) Wapnick “shares stories of people she dubs as multipotentialities “ in her TEDxBend Talk.
When a child can see many paths/opportunities, shouldn’t we educate all those paths? In the 21st century, single interest/focused individuals may face limited success because society is becoming evermore integrated and complex. A single lens is longer be sufficient. Inclusive thinking must prevail at all levels.
In a meta-analysis, Tracy Lovejoy writes that the greatest predictor of leadership is not whether someone is a ‘good fit’ or whether she is ‘likable’ or ‘charismatic’. Rather, the number one predictor of effective leadership is finding the person who has demonstrated social sensitivity (or empathy) and inclusivity. Lovejoy writes, “Words like inclusivity and empathy can be met with skepticism and deemed to be soft, touchy-feely – or even behind closed doors derisively dismissed as ‘female’ or ‘feminine’. According to Science magazine, the ability to get things done (task completion), the ability to identify the tasks to be completed through thoughtful deliberation on a collaborative, inclusive course leads to the most effective teams. (I know, to the millennials out there… Act! Act! Act! is your mantra…) It appears being the first or loudest speaker may not be the best attribute to look for in a leader.
Also, self correction; projects take unexpected turns. Experienced individuals understand that progress isn’t linear. (It would be nice if it was, but it’s not.) Bumps in the road are inevitable; they must be anticipated and dealt with without losing sight of the true end and a self correcting leader has been there/done that.
Why are these people so hard to find?
Research suggests that they’re hard to find because we don’t have enough Talent Scouts in our leadership ranks. But research also suggests that leaders who are Talent Scouts, who celebrate their most collaborative, most inclusive players, will have the most success in meeting the organization’s goals, drive each other to stretch to greater success levels than if they had worked alone.
Moving schools forward requires Lead Learners to be Talent Scouts; those who are open minded and offer Talent Makers an opportunity to make the organization the best it can be.
Murawski, W. W. (2008, September). Five keys to co-teaching in inclusive classrooms. The School Administrator, 27. Excerpt From: Wendy Murawski and Lisa Dieker. “Leading the Co-Teaching Dance.” iBooks.2003, p.10
Wapnick, E. (2016, February). Beyond a Single Calling. Educational Leader. Retrieved February 27, 2016, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar16/vol73/num06/DoubleTake.aspx