play to your strengths.
a happy letter vol. II
“I don’t show favoritism, me. I’m just going to give you some good, general advice. And the first bit is – play to your strengths.”
“I haven’t got any,” said Harry, before he could stop himself.
“Excuse me,” growled Moody, “you’ve got strengths if I say you’ve got them. Think now. What are you best at?”
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Hello and Happy Friday, all! ✨
It’s officially September, which feels absolutely mad. It seems like just yesterday that I was packing up my speech office for good and putting school stuff into storage. Really though, it’s been 3 months since I said goodbye to my office and 2 since I finished up ESY with a spring in my step.
After taking July somewhat “off,” I tried to dive into my new life in August. I was anxious but ready to get going. I was going to be all set and in business come September 1.
My, how I underestimated the learning curve!
After a full day of trying to outline classes on Allschool, I was ready to throw in the towel and beg a teletherapy company to take me.
As I watched my TpT earnings trickle in and tried to plan great, glorious, grand new projects to release, I wanted to shake myself.
It’s been hard, guys. Much harder than I expected.
Finally, I had a bit of a revelation.
I might be reinventing my career, but that doesn’t mean I have to completely reinvent the wheel.
I want to get away from speech therapy, yes. But that doesn’t mean I have to neglect the years of experience I have and all the things about my job that I enjoyed.
I want to grow my TpT store and create new, fun things. But that doesn’t mean I have to abandon the niche I’ve developed over the past 9 years.
I can take what I’m already good at and unite it with my new goals.
What does that look like?
I’m better at working with small groups and individuals than with large classes. So, I can teach small group classes and provide 1-on-1 instruction.
I’m experienced in teaching neurodivergent students and students with developmental delays. So, I can offer classes and sessions that offer instruction specifically for these students.
I’m well-trained in personalizing instruction rather than following a curriculum. So, I can design classes in such a way that we’re able to adapt as we go, fulfilling the individual needs of each student.
I’ve built a following of education professionals who want simple, low-prep, skill-specific materials. So, I can expand those materials to better serve non-SLPs: language interventionists, ESL teachers, special education teachers, reading interventionists, and ELA teachers offering Tier 2 and 3 supports.
Just thinking through the skillsets I’ve developed over the last decade helped me begin to feel more confident in what I have to offer in this new educational space. It helped me feel that, yes, I can give this a go, and I don’t have to change myself entirely to do it.
I think it’s important for us to make a practice of recognizing our strengths—especially when we’re in situations that seek to bring us down. For me, right now, that’s changing my career.
But it’s also happened when I get a new student with a disorder I’m unfamiliar with.
It’s happened when I’m in an IEP meeting and a parent or administrator unexpectedly questions me on a very specific topic.
It’s happened when I’m in the middle of an evaluation and am met with something that makes me think “…What in the world…?”
It’s then that I’ve had to dig down into my reserves of knowledge and experience, identify something that I do know or am good at, and let that guide me. The alternative is to wallow in imposter syndrome and get nothing done.
And what good does that do anyone?
So, when you’re met with something this school year that tries to discredit you or overwhelm you, I encourage you to identify 1 or 2 strengths that can serve as a berth. Rest in their comfort and then use that to help you move forward.
I hope your September is off to a happy start.
Wishing you falling leaves and cooler temperatures,
P.S. If you’re a Tolkien fan, I’d *love* to know what you think about Amazon’s The Rings of Power (premiering tonight!). I for one am anxiously optimistic (is that a thing?) and will be having a hearty full English breakfast tonight to celebrate.