The strength-based movement has been around for quite a while. It was at least ten years ago when I read the first Strength Finder book (after my principal at the time gave it to me as a gift). Since then, I have taken the strength finder quiz as part of a staff book study when I was a principal, with my team of Coordinators, and in my doctoral program. I was even prompted to go through a strength-based quiz on the Happify app recently! Every time I take the quiz or discuss strengths with colleagues, I am reminded of the value of starting from a positive place.
How can this support coaching? What if every coach entered into each conversation with a teacher from the teacher’s strengths? What if teachers knew that coaches (and administrators for that matter!) wanted to discuss their strengths, their positive attributes, the ways in which they support student learning? We all got into this profession because we care of students and have a love of learning. How might our conversations shift if we remind each other of this in kind, positive ways?
Many leadership classes study the SWOT Analysis (pictured above), to determine the strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to a systematic change, initiative, or decision that may impact a school or district. What if we considered elements of this when coaching teachers? What if coaches helped teachers identify their strengths and the opportunities available to enhance their teaching on behalf of the students we serve? How might strength-based coaching enhance your impact? I believe that coaching should be grounded in the teacher’s desire to grow as a professional, starting from his or her strengths.
A coach’s role, especially when building a new relationship, is to help a teacher articulate his or her own strengths. This conversation can then move into a deeper discussion about the teacher’s professional goals which can lead to coaching work. Coaching with beliefs in teachers’ abilities and high expectations for everyone can transform our schools.
What strengths do the teachers in your school or district have?
How do you celebrate and coach from a place of strengths?