Competence | Hooray for Monday

January 31, 2021

By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President, Center for Inspired Teaching

Hooray for Monday is a weekly blog filled with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students. 

What are you most proud of that you accomplished last year?

What strengths are you bringing with you into this new year?

What is something new you’d like to try this year?

Often when we think about competence, our minds turn first to the places where we feel shaky. “Where do I need to improve?” “What have I done recently that I should have done better?” and similar questions tend to be our starting place. But what might happen if we approach personal growth from a place of curiosity, instead of obligation?

As teachers, we strive to meet the need for competence in our students – as we inspire them to build their skills in mathematical problem solving, close reading, scientific data analysis, and more. We know this process is more successful when we encourage students to begin by identifying their strengths and then build on that solid foundation.

The same is true for us – as teachers and learners. In my continuing exploration of the ABCDEs of human needs, I’m offering the above questions as a starting point for understanding, and meeting, our need for competence. Keep those in mind as you work through this week’s prompts.

Competence: “I want to feel a sense of significance, worth, and accomplishment.”

For us to feel capable, we need a sense of empowerment, worthiness, self-efficacy, and achievement. This means an inner sense of achievement, accomplishment, pride, importance, and self-esteem and an outer sense of being heard and respected and feeling competent and attaining recognition.

Where is this need in your life right now according to this spectrum?

How is the need for competence being met in your life right now?

What changes might be necessary in order for your need for competence to be better met?

You can fill out a version of these questions either online or via a PDF on our ABCDE website.

The extraordinary dancer and choreographer Martha Graham spoke of divine dissatisfaction as a key part of the artist’s mindset. Divine dissatisfaction is core to an Inspired Teacher’s mindset too. Yes, we are always striving to improve, to learn, to grow. That’s dissatisfaction. And…we strive to improve and grow from a solid foundation, a place of knowing our strengths and taking pride in what we have already accomplished. That’s divine.

Wishing you a week of growth and learning.

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