Strengths Based Learning Builds Hope

Riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might; and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all.
– 1 Chronicles 29:12 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

On September 29, the Church celebrates the feast day of the archangels Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael. Archangels play specific roles and perform different tasks. Each has his strength just as each of us has our unique order of strengths.  

  • Michael is considered the leader of the archangels. He fights against evil, protects, and defends. He is the patron saint of police officers and other emergency service providers. 
  • Gabriel is known as the messenger. He is the one who visited Mary to tell her that she would be the mother to Jesus. Fittingly, he is the patron saint of broadcasters. 
  • Raphael is known as a joyful healer and guide. He is the patron saint of the blind and visually impaired.

Teaching is more than a job, it is a vocation. Great teachers strive to help their students be the best versions of themselves. By developing their own strengths, teachers become the best versions of themselves because they are able to develop what they naturally do best. John Hattieā€™s research (2018) found, yet again, that more than any other factor, collective teacher efficacy has the greatest effect on student achievement. Collective Teacher Efficacy is the shared belief of teachers in their ability to positively affect students. In other words, if teachers believe in their own abilities and in each other, students can achieve more. Knowing our strengths and how to maximize them will result in better learning as well as greater engagement at all levels.

While we are not archangels, we have the incredible gift and opportunity to bring hope to our students. Those of us who have strengths that fall into the executer theme are people who are able to focus and get things done. In the classroom, we take time to become informed about subject matter, instructional practices, and assessment. We often enjoy piloting new curriculum and aligning curriculum standards with our LOCCS vision and core values. We can help our students and colleagues to keep their eye on the ball and set reasonable expectations and goals while also helping them to understand research and the reasons why programs, projects or outcomes are important for life long learning. 

As relationship builders, we desire collaboration. Because of our high regard for each individual, we set positive emotional tones. As a result, our classrooms are highly inclusive and the development of each individual is greatly valued regardless of the instructional group size or makeup. For this reason, we can usually change our plans easily or quickly provide alternatives to learners. Relationship builders are positive and optimistic. We help learners to succeed and we are empathetic to their anxiety and needs. 

The influencers among us value knowledge and communication. We are persuasive and want to help our colleagues and students to exercise their autonomy, to contribute in meaningful ways, and get the work done. Influencers are often among the first to try new strategies and the first to insist when something should change for students to be more successful. We tend to enjoy communicating with stakeholders and helping students to understand why decisions, policies, or procedures are necessary. 

Those with strategic thinking strengths are visionaries. We can connect research, system goals, and curriculum outcomes to student needs. We tend to be flexible and so we will shake things up a bit but not without a thorough understanding of the variables that affect the outcome. Our visionary practices lead us to take risks and encourage students to develop the same confidence. Developing long-term plans, and encouraging our students to look toward their futures, is exciting for us. 

Future posts will look more specifically at each strength within the executer, relationship builder, influencer, and strategic thinking themes.