Talking and writing about students with strengths-based perspectives

session 1 / session 2

1.
Two strengths and a lie

Two strengths and a lie

Spend a few minutes getting ready individually...

  • Think of two real strengths you yourself actually have. These could be talents, qualities, or a short story about a time when that strength came out.
  • Think up one fake strength about yourself. This one is a lie, and this isn’t actually a real strength for you.

Two strengths and a lie




When everyone’s ready, start playing!

  • Start with whoever works with the youngest students.
  • Share all three, and your table will guess which one is the lie.
  • Then go around the table, with each person taking a turn.

Spend a few minutes getting ready individually...

  • Think of two real strengths you yourself actually have. These could be talents, qualities, or a short story about a time when that strength came out.
  • Think up one fake strength about yourself. This one is a lie, and this isn’t actually a real strength for you.

What are we doing together?

- teacher growth

- this past week

- today

How I think about teacher growth

I’ve used the tension between strengths-based perspectives and the way I’m working now as a source of creativity and professional growth.

I’ve noticed deficit frames in conversations or in writing, but I’m not sure what I could do differently in my role day-to-day.

I’ve built relationships with students that let me see how their different strengths don’t always come out within school.

Strengths-based? Seems worthwhile, I’m curious…

No thanks, other things are more important to me right now.

Some things from the past week

Reframing deficits
as “mismatches”

Modeling strengths-based perspectives with team members

Changing the vibe around specific students, particularly around behavior

Resistance as a strength

Including strengths as
part of school

Designing lessons around specific student strengths

As a counterbalance with constructive feedback, not as sugarcoating

Making space for strengths from IEPs to come out within the classroom

Discovering

more strengths

Ways to get to know specific students better

Making “care packages of strengths” with students

Learning from families, sharing more strengths with them

Readings

What we’ll do today & next time

Today
Two strengths and a lie 10m


Mapping places where strengths and weaknesses flip 20m

Review notes within Student Insights, pick one student to add something strengths-based 20m

Group up by theme, make posters 30m

Present and Q&A with other groups 30m

Closing 10m

Last time
Make whole-person profiles of ourselves 20m

List out strengths of different young people we know 40m

Identify examples of deficit thinking in writing or conversation 30m

Draw pressures we feel that lead us towards deficit thinking 20m

Share scenarios where you want to be more strengths-based 10m

2.
Mapping places where strengths and weaknesses flip

What do young people say?

What strengths can you see?

Brainstorm strengths of students you know. Add their initials and grade level to the sticky note.


Include things from anywhere - the playground, cafeteria, sports fields, clubs, outside school.

Notice where you might be making assumptions - it’s okay if you’re aspiring to see strengths.


~10m

Can get the whole class laughing.

JD, 6th

Goes to their friends for help when needed.

BJ, 9th

Gets excited sharing about things they like


OL, 2nd

Reliable and does what they say they’ll do.

SA, 10th

Charismatic and gets games started outside.

KD, 3rd

Advocates for themself when they feel hurt.

JB, 1st

Multilingual and translates for their family.

OB, 8th

10m / 5m

What strengths can you see?

(fill in from workshop session #1)

10m / 5m

Describe something about one of your students.

Where or when is it a strength?

Where or when is it a weakness?

...are open about self and feelings.

at a cafe

Within close relationships, friendships, collaboration, when working through problems.

on the basketball court

Someone might make fun of them, take advantage of them, or otherwise hurt them.

...know when to self advocate for help.

staying after class

When they are working with someone who will listen and be able to support and help them back.

at a retail job

Speaking up doesn’t always work well within structures or routines, or where they don’t have a lot of power.

...are engaging, excited and exuberant.

on stage

They can share their energy with other people, maybe playing music or acting or telling jokes.

at the DMV

They are probably just going to be bored, or if they are excited it’ll be annoying to other people there.

Describe something about one of your students.

Where or when is it a strength?

Where or when is it a weakness?

3.
Reflect on notes in Student Insights, add

strengths-based note

“We believe in developing the whole child -- the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical potential of all students.”

Metaphors and visuals

“lacking skills”

“below average”

“behind”

Metaphors and visuals

“potential”

“deficits”

Review notes for your students

  • Individually, sign into Student Insights first. Then visit the reflection on notes tool.
  • Individually, scroll and review different students you work with.

  • As a group, discuss what you notice, respecting the students and educators involved, and confidentiality.
  • Individually, pick one of the students you work with, and add a strengths-based note about them, or about something that happened this week.

4.
Group work

Discuss, posters,

present, Q&A

How I think about teacher growth

I’ve used the tension between strengths-based perspectives and the way I’m working now as a source of creativity and professional growth.

I’ve noticed deficit frames in conversations or in writing, but I’m not sure what I could do differently in my role day-to-day.

I’ve built relationships with students that let me see how their different strengths don’t always come out within school.

Strengths-based? Seems worthwhile, I’m curious…

No thanks, other things are more important to me right now.

Group up

~5m

Discovering

more strengths

Reframing deficits
as “mismatches”

Including strengths as
part of school

Group up

Discovering

more strengths

~5m

Reframing deficits
as “mismatches”

Including strengths as
part of school

Group up

Discovering

more strengths

~5m

Reframing deficits
as “mismatches”

Including strengths as
part of school

Group up

Discovering

more strengths

~5m

Reframing deficits
as “mismatches”

Including strengths as
part of school

Group up

Discovering

more strengths

~5m

Reframing deficits
as “mismatches”

Including strengths as
part of school

Group up

Discovering

more strengths

~5m

Reframing deficits
as “mismatches”

Including strengths as
part of school

Group up

Discovering

more strengths

~5m

Reframing deficits
as “mismatches”

Including strengths as
part of school

Group work (3-6 people)

Discovering

more strengths

~5m

3. Make poster. Pick whatever format you want.

Include something about the theme relevant for each
person in your group

Including strengths as
part of school

Reframing deficits
as “mismatches”

  • Pick your group’s theme.

2. Discuss in Share what you did during homework. Talk about both mindsets
your group. and what actions you could take. Collaborate around specific
students or challenges.

4. Present poster. Q&A with other groups.

In closing

In closing

Email whenever if you want to brainstorm or collaborate further.

Share any ideas for how Student Insights could encourage strengths-based perspectives.

PD logistics.

Thanks!

Links for additional readings

  • I found it powerful to see how the writer describes two high school students in terms of strengths they have, despite these strengths not being a great fit for how things work in the class at that moment. Christina and Derek in "You Ain't Making Me Write" (Kinloch)

Strengths-based mindsets, workshop #2 (public) - Google Slides