What are the personal characteristics of a strength-based teacher? This isn’t so much what a teacher does. Instead, it is who s/he is. Also, what does strength-based teaching look like? This involves what a teacher does in his/her classroom, school, and community. Often, these behaviors are related to the seven factors aligned with a school culture of success. Your strength-based personal stories, as well as the stories of your colleagues who inspire you, will help us understand strength-based teachers and teaching. Your contributions to this dialogue will be appreciated.

Whose "strengths" — teachers' or students'?

3 replies, 3 voices Last updated by Profile photo of Debbie Schroeder Debbie Schroeder 6 months, 3 weeks ago
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  • #5571 Reply
    Profile photo of Justin McGehee
    Justin McGehee

    Every time I hear “strength-based change” or “strength-based teaching,” I get stuck on the same core question:

    Does “strength-based” ultimately mean the teacher operates centrally from their own strengths so that students get the best that the teacher has to offer?

    Or does “strength-based” ultimately mean the teacher operates centrally from each students’ strengths to build on what each student is best at and/or most passionate about?

    Those are absolutely not the same philosophy/approach. However, it’s possible to *train and build up teachers* the same way that we train and build up students: by focusing on the teachers’ strengths and building from those. That unifies the two elements.


  • #5573 Reply
    Profile photo of Debbie Schroeder
    Debbie Schroeder

    I agree that the two philosophies you outlined are not the same, but I believe they can co-exist. When we talk about a strength-based school, each individual (e.g., teachers, support staff, scholar, parent) is encouraged to work from his/her strengths. In ideal circumstances, the teacher would work from his/her personal strengths. Simultaneously, the strength-based teacher would create a classroom climate in which the scholars could work from their personal strengths. This would involve an understanding that not all teachers teach the same, nor do our scholars learn the same. Based on a respect for each teacher’s and scholar’s interests, talents, and strengths, a cookie-cutter approach to teaching and learning would no longer exist. And, each classroom would take on its own “feel.” This is a departure from the standardization of schools, but individuals are at their authentic best when they are who they are. I would love to flesh out this dialogue more. Let’s continue to exchange ideas.

  • #5574 Reply

    Tricia Hyun

    I see the “strength-based approach” as providing opportunities for all individuals. Ideally, in a “strength based environment,” all would uncover personal authenticities, and an application of these talents might support discovery of identity. In 1998, I had an opportunity to work with several talented teachers in Claremont, CA, and it was their “strength-based environment” that gave me several opportunities to uncover talents and skills that a different environment might not have. It is my hope that all of my students have had experiences and are experiencing “strength-based, student-centered environments,” and that they are activating their agency as we speak! Lifelong learning is key, so yes, I am still “training and building myself daily” in the same way that I am “training and building up my students.”

    • #5577 Reply
      Profile photo of Debbie Schroeder
      Debbie Schroeder

      Hi Tricia! I agree that in a strength-based climate, all benefit — small people and big people. WE all function better when the focus is on our strengths rather than on our weaknesses. So, a strength-based teacher is focusing on and developing his/her strengths while s/he is focusing on and developing the strengths of his/her scholars. The two areas of focus are inseparable.

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