Drawing attention to students' strengths boosts outcomes
- Teaching veteran Nina Parrish writes for Edutopia on the benefits of focusing on the positive rather than "mirroring" anxiety, fear or negative attitudes students might have.
- Research published in Educational Psychology Review, she notes, has also shown students feel a greater sense of belonging — and, as a result, have greater outcomes — when educators identify strengths and support those characteristics.
- Parrish writes that educators should be cheerleaders rather than critics, observe students to find out what motivates them, identify connections between their strengths and academics, use creativity and technology to make academics more accessible, and help students find a purpose.
By adopting a positivity-based approach that focuses on students' strengths, educators are supporting the further development of those skills alongside self-awareness of weaker areas that still need more development. They're also modeling leadership skills that students can take with them into future careers, as effective leadership often involves recognizing the strengths of your team and how they can complement each other.
With that in mind, educators themselves can further benefit from administrators adapting a similar take on this approach to the school at large. Just as students don't perform well when they only hear what they're doing wrong or where they need improvement, so too can teachers feel pressure from a disproportionate amount of criticism. By focusing heavily on individual teachers' strengths, administrators can more effectively adopt personalized approaches to professional development in the long run, working to assign their faculty members to programs that further embolden their strengths or build upon areas where they're not as strong.
- Edutopia Keeping the Focus on the Positive
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