One obligatory post on Strengths will not satisfy most School Social Workers, because we all know that this concept is at the heart of everything we do in each realm and level of service that we offer. So let’s just call this our first dip into the strengths pool, okay? Do you remember the first time that someone identified and honored one of your strengths?
I certainly do.
I was in third grade when Ms.McCracken waded through my “chicken scratch” only to find that underneath the scrawling, sprawling and shall we say “non-traditional” cursive penmanship, I was quite the storyteller. She carried my work of genius from room to room like it was the latest dead-sea scroll discovery and I don’t want to put anyone to shame here (lest any of my old classmates are reading), but after that day it was clear in my mind that I was being groomed for U.I.L. greatness.
In a matter of moments, I went from:
Powerless to overcome my handwriting demons,
Powerful and ready to conquer the world with my clever repartee (or at that time my Rudy Huxtable inspired Tales from the otherside of the Rainbow).
Powerless to Powerful.
That is the beauty of the Strengths Perspective. Strengths are the all-too-often unnoticed, untapped, unacknowledged, and unutilized SUPERPOWERS in the lives of our students, their families, and our school staffs. These powers comes from many different sources:
But I know, I know, I am preaching to the choir here, right? The question then becomes, how do we bring this framework to a world that all-too-often prefers and practices from a deficits model? My approach is two-fold:
- Make it Known: The more we keep exposing our campuses and communities to strengths-based language and practice the more comfortable and useable they become.
- Make it Meaningful: No one wants to hear our canned strengths mumbo-jumbo if it does not connect with their own philosophies, agendas, and practices. So we have to brush up on language and concepts that strike a chord in each of the various groups with whom we enjoy the pleasure of collaboration. To a teacher whose concern is primarily academic success, strengths might be connected with the idea of differentiation, to a parent the concept of self-esteem might be of first importance, and for an administrator the efficiency of strengths-informed hiring practices could be just what the doctor ordered.
Check out three simple ways to incorporate strengths across our campuses.
One way to have students and parents identify their own strengths is to draw a simple “Strengths Tree” like this one:
One way to support teachers as they think about individual strengths in academics is through identification of student capabilities and talents using tools such as:
One way to utilize strengths throughout your school system is to get a common language using a resources like this http://www.oprah.com/money/Take-Control-of-Your-Career-and-Your-Life-Workshop-Session-1-Video or this…
So these are a few of my conversation starting tools with regard to strengths— the gateways to an ongoing discussion. How do you Make it Known and Make it Meaningful on your campus?