Teach with your Strengths, part 2 of 2

Teach with your strengths

Teach with your Strengths, part 2 of 2

by Dr. Kevin Nguyen
In my last article (Teach with your Strengths part 1 of 2), we discussed the Biblical Reasoning of Teaching with your Strengths. This sequel article outlines the practical gifts that teachers may have according to the research team at Gallup. I highly recommend you purchase a book right now, and get the Strengthfinder 2.0 test for free!! Otherwise you will be paying $13/license. After I took this test, it has open my eyes to a whole new world of developing new skills in the teaching world.
What about the other assessments like DISC or Meyers-Brigg? Well these are personality assessments that focuses on the general demeanor of a person. But Strengthsfinder gives an accurate assessment on your teaching strengths and then follows up on practical steps on enhancing your top strengths.
After I (Kevin Nguyen) took my assessment, the results spits out 5 of my top strengths of the 34 listed. Most of us would want to zoom down to the bottom and focus on the bottom 5, but the results will only show you the top 5. Curiosity may kill you, but don’t worry, it didn’t kill me knowing my fatal flaws. Instead, I am zoned in on the top (see below of my top 5): Arranger, Significance, Strategic, Command, Communicator.
or you can just skim through this…then go take your assessment! What is your strength?

Signature Theme Definition in my own words
Arranger Organize with flexibility, figure out how all the pieces and resources can be arranged for max productivity Conductor, in complex situation involving many factors, you enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until you are sure you have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible, You are a shining example of effective flexibility, whether you are changing travel schedules at the last minute because a better fare has popped up or mulling over just the right combination of people and resources to accomplish a new project.
You are at your best in dynamic situations. Confronted with the unexpected, some complain that plans devised with such care cannot be changed, while others take refuge in the existing rules or procedures. You don’t do either. — because, after all, there might just be a better way.
Ex. Games – Risk, Tetris, tower defense, real-time-scenario (RTS)
Command Presence of Person, take control of a situation and make decisions Command leads you to take charge. Unlike some people, you feel no discomfort with imposing your views on others. On the contrary, once your opinion is formed, you need to share it with others. Once your goal is set, you feel restless until you have aligned others with you. You are not frightened by confrontation; rather, you know that confrontation is the first step toward resolution. Whereas others may avoid facing up to life’s unpleasantness, you feel compelled to present the facts or the truth, no matter how unpleasant it may be.
You need things to be clear between people and challenge them to be clear-eyed and honest. You may even intimidate them. And while some may resent this, labeling you opinionated, they often willingly hand you the reins. People are drawn toward those who take a stance and ask them to move in a certain direction.
Ex. Where do you want to eat? Where you want to go?
Communication Easy to put their thoughts into words, they are good conversationalists and presenters. You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public.
Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors.
This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act.
Significance Want to be very important in the eyes of others? Independent and want to be recognized???? You want to be heard. You want to stand out. You feel a need to be admired as credible, professional, and successful. Likewise, you want to associate with others who are credible, professional, and successful. And if they aren’t, you will push them to achieve until they are. Or you will move on.
An independent spirit, you want your work to be a way of life rather than a job, and in that work you want to be given free rein, the leeway to do things your way. Your yearnings feel intense to you, and you honor those yearnings. And so your life is filled with goals, achievements, or qualifications that you crave.
(driving motivation)
Whatever your focus your Significance theme will keep pulling you upward, away from the mediocre toward the exceptional. It is the theme that keeps you reaching.
Strategic Create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues. Sort through the clutter and find the best route, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner,
Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path—your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward.
Ex. Odyssey of Mind

Teach with your Strengths, part 1 of 2

Teaching with strengths part 1

Teach with your Strengths, part 1 of 2

by Dr. Kevin Nguyen

We tend to ask the common question of priority, “What do I work on first, my strength or my weaknesses?”  I had asked this question prior to starting my doctorate program.  My advisor at the time posed this conundrum to me and shared me both philosophies of thinking.  Some would work on their weaker areas to make them stronger.  Others will go all the way with they are good at so they can become experts in their field.  I chose the latter.  Why?  First, I am rooted in a Biblical Worldview in how God dispenses every believer spiritual gifts.Romans 12:6-8 says,
6Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: ifprophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7ifservice, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Second, if God has given us these unique gifts, why would we neglect it, but rather improve upon them.  The book “”Teach with your Strengths” follows these Biblical principles.  Although not written to a Christian audience, the book does support the principle that we should continue to A) Strengthen our Gifts, and b) Minimize our Weaknesses.  It takes more energy to focus on our weaknesses to make them even at par.  But the extreme energy exerted on improving our weaknesses will go further when we focus on our Strengths.  Let’s focus on our strengths.
In the next article (part 2 of 2), we will discover what my strengths are… stay tuned
I came across this book not too long ago in 2010. This book comes from a series of book from the Gallup Press.  Read more there. Teach with your strengths

Research Topics: Finding Yours in 6 Steps

research topics- choosing yours in 6 easy steps

Research Topics: Finding Yours in 6 Steps

 by Timothy Howe

All academics do research. Finding research topics is a part of the job. If you are in academia you will need to research. Whether you are working on a research paper, thesis, dissertation, field project, or a new book, you will need to research. Many times research topics come easily. They are dictated by someone else, by pressing circumstances or are a particular passion. However, almost every writer comes to a point in his or her career when he or she is required to write without a lead. The writer knows that something must be written, but what?

Six Steps to Choosing Your Research Topics
1. Work in an area of personal interest.
You will not want to research a topic that is dull to you. The larger the project, the more personal investment will be required to stay the course. So, from the beginning investigate topics that interest you. It is also likely to be the area where you already have some expertise.

2. Consider if your interest matters.
Just because you like a topic does not mean it is either important or interesting to others. Since writers presumably research in order to be read, consider if your interest matters. If it does not, select a new one. If it does, your are on the right track.

3. Identify what research already exists in your field of interest.
You do not want to expend a great deal of research effort only to find out that someone else has written your paper. Identity what topics are sufficiently covered and what topics have questions yet unanswered or conclusions yet unchallenged.

4. Brainstorm various possibilities.
Before researching, sit down and come up with as many ideas as you can concerning your interest. Among other things, brainstorming benefits you by leading you to something you never before considered, helping to establish the outline for when you begin writing, and by producing many future topics.

5. Narrow your topic to a manageable size.
It does no good to choose a topic of gargantuan scale. You must narrow your topic as soon as possible to a size that is appropriate for your project. Research papers must be very narrow in focus; theses, dissertations and books can be a bit broader, but be careful to not let them grow unwieldy.

6. Choose your topic. 
Sometimes the enemy is not the lack of a topic, but it is that you cannot decide between equally compelling topics. There comes a time when you must simply choose. Choose your topic and begin your research. Put your remaining other good topic ideas in your mental vault for future research.
Finally, once you have chosen your topic, start writing. 

Technophobia: Internet Anxiety

Technophobia: I hate the internet

Technophobia: Internet Anxiety

by Dr. Sharon Short
I belong to the last generation of people who are amazed by what can be accomplished online. I have located out-of-print books, purchased shoes in hard-to-find sizes, found cheap airfares, downloaded articles from obscure journals, conversed with people on other continents, participated in classes, searched for jobs, reconnected with old friends, edited dissertations, and completed a host of other tasks—all using this astonishing resource called the internet.
On the other hand, because for most of my life this powerful tool did not exist, I am also part of a generation who suffers from technophobia. Our generation is quite anxious about the implications of using the world-wide web. The very same technology that enables me to find out so much from around the world also allows anyone in the world to find out a great deal about me. It makes me nervous to realize that the products I buy, the websites I peruse, even the Facebook messages that I post, are all noticed, recorded, and used to market new products and services to me. Not only that, but the information that this vast, complex system called the internet accumulates about me never goes away—it is always immediately accessible to anyone who knows how to look for it.
Having experienced the incredible advantages of the internet, however, I do not expect that I will ever go back to living without it. In fact, I am so excited about its educational potential that I am building a career as an online instructor. I have made peace with my “internet anxiety” by accepting one simple reality, namely, that the internet is a completely public venue. It feels deceptively private and anonymous, but as long as I recognize that nothing—absolutely nothing—that I do by means of the internet can be kept hidden, it will probably not hurt me. My solution is to transmit online only the same sort of information that I would be willing to see printed in a magazine, mentioned in a newspaper, reported on a television show, or announced on a marquee. These examples are public media with which we have all grown up, and we have a clear sense of what would be wise and appropriate to publicize in these sorts of ways. The relative newness of the internet, combined with its illusion of secrecy, tempts people to relay information about themselves and say things about others that they would never consider publicizing through more traditional channels, and therein lies the danger. Recognizing that the internet is as communal as a billboard but much more widely accessible frees me to use it prudently as the worldwide public information forum that it actually is.

The Spirit-Driven Leader (Ministry Leadership Book Review)

Blog, The Spirit-Driven Leader
The Spirit-Driven Leader: Seven Keys to Succeeding Under Pressure by Carnegie Samuel Calian
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Listen to the Audio Podcast Review: 28 minutes
Download it – just right click and “save target as” to save the mp3 to your device, and take it on the go]

Carnegie Calian served for years at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (Reformed Tradition seminary), which is an organization that was instituted back in 1794 (wow!).
The Spirit-Driven Leader: Seven Keys to Succeeding Under Pressure
Calian argues that wise people learn from not only from other people’s mistakes but also from their advice. Carnegie Samuel Calian draws upon over twenty-five years of successful leadership and management to give his best advice for leaders and followers in an organization to successfully deal with the conflicts that arise in an organization.
While his experience is largely based on his experience leading a seminary, his advice is to all organizations through a pastoral approach. The book expounds seven key values for leaders to cultivate in their organization. The first four values—creativity, competence, commitment, character—are to establish a leadership that inspires hope. The last three values—collegiality, compassion, and courage are ways that organizations can build community.
Calian gives seven key areas of leadership to master as a Christian leader, along with tips on how to do them:
1. Creativity
-See Solutions When Others See Barriers
-Cultivate Discernment in Evaluating Ideas
-Overcoming Self-Doubt: You’re Much Better Than You Think You Are
-Recognize and Practice Your Natural Gifts
3. Commitment
-Consider Leadership and ‘Followship’ as Spiritual Callings
-Dedicate Yourself to Your Primary Life Mission
-Nurture Your Passion
4. Character
-Trust Must Be Earned
-Sensitivity to Human Needs
-Credibility: Confidence With Humility
5. Collegiality
-Affirm Others’ Strengths
-Building Consensus
6. Compassion
-Apply the Golden Rule (regard individuals as persons and not means)
-Practice Dignity Without Dependence
7. Courage
-Step Up and Be Accountable
-Remember that Leadership Can Be Lonely
-Overcome Obstacles and Disappointment
These seven principles are essentials in Christian leadership and are touchstones for high performance people everywhere.