Exploring and Embracing Student Strengths
By: Hayley Johnson
^Donald Clifton developed this intensive online assessment that depicts your talents and successful qualities. He provides a hearty description of 34 unique strengths that the assessment may report for you (ex: achiever, adaptability, harmony, empathy). This assessment will cost each person who takes it about $20 and approx. 30-40 minutes of their time.
- How can we determine and engage our students’ strengths when we might not have time/money to have each of them take the Clifton strength-finders assessment?
Identifying students’ strengths:
- A class survey– use a paper survey or other online survey generators to ask personal and extensive questions related to strength and interest.
- Story prompts– Give students prompts for personal narratives that can underlay certain strengths (ex: Describe a situation in which you felt like a leader and managed a project/situation, The day I was most proud of myself was…, If I had one day to help someone, I would…, etc.).
- Identity project– Students have a day (or more) to prepare a presentation on themselves, their family, interests, strengths, personal goals, anything!
- Observation– Teachers should have plenty of time in which they can observe students in individual and group activities and identify students’ strengths.
WHY we should focus on strengths:
“A gentle shift in mindset and lens through which we look at kids”
“How many kids go through our school system without being valued for their strengths, and without be acknowledged for who they are”
“If they know that they are valued everyday for what they come to school with, for who they are, you have that connection and relationship”
“Need to be focusing on human well-being and human flourishing”
“When people spend a small amount in an area of strength, they are more engaged, less anxious, less stressed, and happier”
“Increase in over 36% in performance when you focus on strengths, versus a decrease in almost 27% in performance when you focus of weaknesses”
EXPLORE strengths in a science classroom:
Every strength can have a place in a science classroom. Here are some examples:
Couragous—The person who presents ideas and findings to the class after a group analyzes and interprets a text/experiment/data
Creative—Can be responsible for designing the poster/website/model
Innovative—Fuels the ideas for experimental design, helps creative student design models
Supportive—Encourages other classmates and group members during a tough problem, helps individual students who are struggling to understand a concept and explains concepts/ideas to them
Kind-hearted—May have a self-designed project to support and advocate for animal rights or sustainability
***ANY strength you may discover in your students can have its own powerful influence on the classroom dynamic and on the students’ learning***
Encourage, acknowledge, support, discover, power, influence, strength, value, engage