Context: Lessons Learned

Have you ever looked at a blueprint and known immediately what was worth keeping, what was missing, and what needed to be changed? Do you like to read about the past? Are you happy when you hear the words “best practice”? If so, your strength might be Context. Context is a strategic thinking theme that relies on understanding the past in order to chart a better way to the future. Those with the Context strength see learning opportunities in both success and failure. Often, they love to tell stories about these past experiences. Basketball player Michael Jordan said:

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Michael Jordan

This is Context. The ability to look for and understand what can be learned from the past is imperative to success in organizations. When coupled with enduring values, relevant information, and a desire to improve, Context becomes critical.

Another advantage of the Context strength is that the individuals are able to sort chaos into order. Because they are curious and caring, they bring worth to projects by asking critical questions before proceeding. Teachers with Context are often excellent planners, especially when using backward design.

Teachers and leaders can assist students and colleagues with Context by helping them to respond favorably to change as it can be easy for the Context individual to become trapped by a “but we’ve always done it this way” mindset. Be certain to recognize the past journey. It is important to affirm the value of past work by helping individuals to see how it supports proposed transformation. Furthermore, if something has been done multiple times and worked, leaders and teachers must take time to ask why and how something worked – what were the key processes, what were the metrics used to calculate success, what were the best outcomes? Then, help these individuals to learn how to communicate these in clear, succinct means by developing outlines, bulleted lists, diagrams, and graphic organizers.

Context helps us to move forward by avoiding past pitfalls. Be certain to bring it to the table to ensure future success.