How Do You Show Your Strengths At Work?

I just had my final phone meeting with my supervisor for my summer job. My summer job was intense, and I’m happy it’s over, but while I was working it I gave it my all. There’s actually no way you can’t give it your all. Everything that needs to be done really and truly does need to be done; you couldn’t do your job otherwise so unless you give it your all you will get fired.

I was really happy and excited as I was speaking to her. She asked me what I thought my strengths were, my weaknesses, what I learned. The usual job interview questions except that this was at the end of the job. I told her about the job I’m doing now (teaching 10th grade English and History), and she asked me questions about what books I’m teaching. Overall, a fun meeting.

Then she said she wanted to tell me what she thought of my teaching this summer. She said I did a really good job teaching, but my logistics were not up to par in the second session. I didn’t keep up well enough with submitting my data, and as such they will not be inviting me back to teach next summer.

That really, really hurt.

The only defense I’m going to give in regards to my data submission is that data I was supposed to submit Sunday night, I would submit Monday morning. I taught all day Sunday and would get home close to 9, exhausted. Yes, I was supposed to submit that data on time, but it’s not as if they would look at it before Monday morning anyway.

I think that it was her choice of words that hurt as much as the message. They will not be inviting me back. It sounded like I was being fired. But even more than that, it was the fact that they have no idea how I taught. Where do they get their information from? They are based in another state, and I teach here in Texas. Parents only ever call in to report on a teacher if there is a concern, I have yet to hear about a parent call in because they liked the teacher. I have had so many parents tell me I did an amazing job, and I know I did an amazing job. And that one sentence acknowledgment of me doing a good job teaching? Not nearly enough.

I have dealt with these feelings of inadequacy and incompetency before, and I am tired of it. I teach English and History to 10th graders, and I cannot tell you how awesome I am. I am not saying that to uphold myself or in response to what my supervisor said, I’m saying that because I know. I had English and History in high school, I know what is taught in those classes. The hours, the effort, the passion I put into my work, that is the kind of investment I plan on giving to my own kids to ensure that they are educated well.

Let me give you an example of how much of a difference I make. All through last semester, and my first day of class yesterday, my students compared my teaching to what they had in public school. They do it on their own, talking at length about how they would never learn any of the things I teach at their old school. How their teachers wouldn’t care to answer questions. How their teachers wouldn’t care to help or even explain anything properly the first time around.

I feel how awesome I am as I’m teaching everyday. I love myself as a teacher, and I wish I could have had me as a teacher when I was in high school. I taught math and science last semester because the English and History positions had already been filled, and I hate math with a passion. You know what one of my students said to me yesterday, the first day of school? “You were a really, really good math teacher. I was never good at math and I learned so much when you taught it.”

That’s the secret to being a great teacher: you either suck at the subject you’re teaching so you’re able to teach it the way you would teach yourself (which is really slowly and methodically or you would never understand it), or you love your subject passionately and so are able to impart that passion to your students.

I care. I teach with an effort and passion I have seen in few people, and my students know this. And I make all of $500 a month.

Do I care? Not really. I could make more by teaching somewhere else on the side; both my previous employers have asked me time and time again to come back. I said no for two reasons: I’m tired of giving up so much of my time, and I will not let those jobs take away from the time I know I need to teach my students properly and well.

I kick butt as a teacher. At my summer job, my entire class of middle school-ers told me I should teach at their school. All different schools, mind you. The fought with each other about which school I should go to. They loved me. And they learned oh so much. And they had so much fun doing it. But you’re “not going to invite me back” because I didn’t submit data the second you wanted it done?

I’m tired of this. I’m tired because as awesome as I am, I feel as if the wrong people are aware of it. Not the wrong people, but the people who don’t make decisions for me. I never told my supervisor any of this; maybe I should have. I’ve suffered before because I didn’t tell my supervisor all the cool things I was doing. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t do that. I don’t tell people the cool things I’m doing unless they’re my immediate family or my sister-from-another (but still Hyderabadi)-mother (yes, I realize that doesn’t have the same ring to it as the brother saying, but you get the point). Not even my extended family, who tell me all the cool things they’re doing at work, gets to hear of the awesomeness that is me in my classroom.

I’m almost certain, that as much as I’ve shown initiative and drive and enthusiasm prior to the start of this school year, my boss is not aware of how awesome I am. How can I make them see? Maybe that’s why I’m not getting in to any of my graduate programs, the people who should see me at my best never do. Therefore I never get good recommendation letters. I can almost see it in my head: “She teaches well, but her organization and data submission is well below adequate. She needs to work on that before she can be successful.” And on and on and on. One line on the thing that really matters, and five on the thing that is not really that important since I did do what you asked, and not a week later, or even a day later, but a measly couple of hours later. A couple of hours where you were sleeping.

How do I remedy that? I’m hurt, wounded, tired, and ashamed. And I’m tired of these feelings, because I feel as if they come back every time I get a new job.

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5 thoughts on “How Do You Show Your Strengths At Work?

  1. I’m so sorry 😦

    If it helps any, I’ve been making dua for your and my goodness for dunya and akhirah. They say that after you make that dua, especially in the last 10 odd nights of Ramadan, whatever happens, happens for the best.

    Maybe this will free you up for a more exciting, better opportunity? Ameen! 🙂 Capture the lessons from this, forget the painful uninvitation (meanies!) and inshAllah it will help create an even more beautiful future.

    Just consider you’ve outgrown them (take that stupid peeps), and you are moving on to something better inshAllah 😉 Ameen!!!!

    Even if they had invited you — you shouldn’t have gone b/c you’re too good for them!

    I know no matter what I say, it won’t make anything feel better. I’ve learned that grief and sorrow have their place in our lives just as inherently as winter has its place in climate change. You just gotta let it carry out its course and put on your favorite sweaters and warmest coat as you go out and enjoy the fun that winter brings (i.e, sledding, skiing, etc ;-))

    *Big hug*

    I know you will get back up soon fueled with your contagious passion and enthusiasm in all the things you do! Passion, talent and enthusiasm is so much more difficult to develop — alhumdulillah, you got those things totally down!

    Logistics are easy to get harnessed and pretty much anyone can do them. InshAllah when you pick out your fancy new smart phone, then you can use that to help you take care of the ‘stupid stuff’ (that’s my name for logistics) w/ reminders and such. Or, let me know, and I will also add it to my calendar!

    Some inspirational stories:
    1) Remember when Steve Jobs got kicked out of IBM?? And then they discovered he was a genius. Bet they wish they could have the IPOD!
    2) And when John Nash was thought to be only a madmen and then they discovered he was a mathematical genius?
    3) And how Prophet Muhammad (S) was thought to be so many terrible things (still is)? And he spent his nights praying for our goodness.

    Charlie Chaplin said, “You have to believe in yourself. That’s the secret. Even when I was roaming the streets with nothing to eat, I still knew I was the greatest actor in the world.”

    You totally got this!!!!

    LOVE YOU

    • PS: You were also fasting the second session! I’m SO PROUD of you, you have no idea!

      Don’t worry, inshAllah, we will be helping each other keep on track! I am improving my logistics too – we can do this together alhumdulillah! And memorize our duas together inshAllah. PARALLEL LIVES

  2. PPS: “How do you show your strengths at work”? I think this is totally an art that can be learned through career enhancement books – LOL. I will be reading up on this topic b/c this is something everyone could benefit from learning!!

  3. I’m so touched by your duas! I didn’t know that about that particular dua during the last ten nights, JazakAllah Khair!

    The point is not that I need help with logistics, I really don’t! It’s not about improving my logistics, I don’t need to. The point is that I DIDN’T do a bad job with logistics and she made it seem like it was this huge deal. If it had been that big a deal, why didn’t they just fire me while I was doing the stupid job? Why wait till the very end, after my last day? It doesn’t make sense, and it was really rude the way she said it.

    Anyways, Alhamdulillah. I love my job, and I haven’t let this get in the way, but it did have me upset the whole day yesterday.

    And yes to sisterhood! Alhamdulillah wo SubhanAllah for that! I love you! Btw, you’re the sister-from-another-mother, I hope you got that! I don’t have any other sisters! 🙂

    Also: Yup, when I’m a published author iA I’ll be sure to hope that all these people who’ve made me feel like a good-for-nothing idiot these past couple of years (I could name names, but let’s just stick to hating them namelessly, they don’t deserve to be remembered!) know what I’ve become. Not because I think I’ll be better than them, but because I want to say to them, “Look! What did you think of me, and what have I become?”

    I realize that sounds really arrogant haha. I have no idea whether I’ll accomplish what I want to. I guess I will if God wills it. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, I just am really tired of people in positions of authority (remember my post on this?) continually putting me down and making me feel as if I’m worthless 😦

    But no worries, I’m not sad anymore. Whatever happens will be for the best insha’Allah, for BOTH OF US! I love you so much, and I can’t tell you how much your duas mean to me! I’ve been duaing for us too, so Insha’Allah nothing but good will come from them. Even if that good has to come through something bad, or something we perceive as bad at the time.

    I love you!

    • LOL that is so true! You got both talent and logistics down.

      Usually that doesn’t happen (i.e., Einstein and no socks/no hair brushing)

      That is SO TRUE about what you said about the published author part. OMG. SO TRUE.

      You’re gonna show them! Straight up.

      It’s just a matter of time, inshAllah. “Trust in the timing of the universe” ~#besomebody

      Btw – I’m still trying to figure out a non-weird way to let the besomebody guy know how meaningful his work is in uplifting, motivating & inspiring towards purpose and passion.

      LOL You know, I think I let him know regularly. But, I guess I can’t express my gratitude enough.

      Wow, that makes me realize that I am a grateful person, afterall!

      I can’t tell you how so, so, so happy I felt when I read the statement that you referred to as “arrogant”

      That’s my Fatimersister!!!! SHOW THEM. I felt really, really happy when I read that. Can’t even tell you.

      You are going to do this inshAllah. Ameen!!!! Allah swt hears all the duas of those who ask. Ask away and dream big! Allah swt is capable of all things. He is always near & closer to us than our jugular vein!!

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