The IFT Grant Strength-Based Grant Program is for any CTA members who want to move

Focusing on Strengths – The world is changing rapidly, demanding that we rethink the nature and purpose of education. Strength-based thinking assumes that every student, classroom, and school have untapped stories of excellence and that telling these stories releases positive energy and inspires creativity. Strength-based thinking believes that a maximum mix of school community stakeholders lead to the best results. Strength-based thinking increases resilience and capacity to overcome challenges. So What is

Strength-Based Thinking? – Strength-based thinking is both content and process. It is both science and art. Think about a time when someone really believed in you and saw your strengths. It could have been a teacher, a family member, or friend who recognized your unique gifts. How did their faith and expectations affect you? Did you feel more energized and excited about possibilities? Strength- based thinking discovers the possible by emphasizing what is working right now. By focusing on strengths – what’s working in our schools – you will have an opportunity to show that teacher driven change is critical to school improvement.

Strength-Based Approaches and Appreciative Inquiry – By applying for a CTA IFT Grant you can create and support a teaching and learning environment that adheres to the key principles of strength- based thinking. Because most school reform strategies are based on a problem-centered approach, you have a unique opportunity to explore how strength-based thinking can improve student success. Although strength-based approaches have been applied in many public and private settings, its application to schools has been infrequent. However, one important strength-based approach, Appreciative Inquiry, has been found to produce positive results for students.

Strength-Based Approaches and Positive Deviance – Focusing on positive student behaviors – – rather than disruptive behaviors – is a strength-based approach worth exploring. Too often, we spend time and resources on fixing disruptive behaviors in the classroom and less attention on desirable behaviors. By identifying, publicizing, and acting on behavioral strategies that lead to success, you can have a major impact on school improvement and real innovation. Positive Deviance is a strength-based strategy that focuses on positive behaviors – behaviors that can be identified by students, parents, and teachers that lead to desirable outcomes.

Before beginning the application process, ask yourself the following questions: ❖ Am I an active, dues paying

❖ Am I an active, dues paying

❖ Am I an active, dues paying member of CTA?

❖ Do I have a reasonable expectation of being able to manage a project during the next school year?

❖ Do I have information and/or evidence that indicates the project I am considering will improve student achievement?

❖ Does my project idea address the needs of diverse or students at risk?

❖ Am I willing to share my learnings from this project with other educators? If you answered “yes” to these questions, you should feel confident that the IFT will give your grant proposal serious consideration. Another question to consider: Do I have partners with whom I can plan and implement this project? The IFT believes proposals that have many stakeholders involved are more likely to succeed.

Go to Teacher Driven Change for more information.


About the author: CTA IFT

The CTA Institute for Teaching promotes Strength-Based Teacher Driven Change. Through grants, member engagement, special programs, research, conferences, networking, and community-based coalitions, the CTA Institute for Teaching seeks to advance public education and promote the common good of our students and communities.

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