By Teachers, For Teachers
Strengths are things that you do well. They are the inner qualities that make you feel good about yourself. All too often when students are in the classroom, they are looked at in terms of what they need to improve upon, versus how we can use classroom management to nurture their strengths. As teachers, we can inspire students by helping them find what they are good at. When you don’t foster these strengths, then they can go underdeveloped. Here are a few classroom management ways to discover your students’ strengths, and help them bring the most success into their lives.
The first thing that you should do to help develop your students’ strengths is to get to know each one of your students better. You can do this by enforcing the 2x10 strategy. This is when you spend two minutes a day for 10 consecutive days with each one of your students. During these two minutes, you can find out a lot about a child just by partaking in a natural conversation. By the end of the ten days, you’ll have gained a lot of insight into each one of your students, which will help you know how to move forward and nurture each child’s strengths.
Self-directed projects help students discover their strengths. The idea behind it is simple: Students chose their project, research it, then find a way to share it with their classmates. The ideas are endless, and it’s up to the student to choose. They also get to complete the project in their own time which is a great way for them to learn to set goals for themselves. This activity is a great way for students to figure out what they are interested in, what their passion is, as well as what their strengths are.
Student surveys are a great way to help students figure out what their strengths are. You can download one online or you can create one yourself. To help younger students identify their strengths, you can printout a hands-on activity where they color each strip of paper that identify their strengths. This will help them visually see what they are good at.
An “All About Me” activity is usually something that many kindergarten teachers use to help young students identify what they are good at, as well as what interests them. This is usually in the form of a poster where students draw or attach pictures, and write down their strengths, family members, as well as interests. You can also take this “All About Me” concept and use it with older students, but instead of having them create a poster like they did when they were in kindergarten, they can use a different medium to showcase their strengths, such as through a video, slideshow, or an app.
Whether your students can draw or not, creating a sketchbook challenge is a fun way to discover strengths. The great thing about this challenge is there is no right or wrong way to sketch. Whatever the students decides to draw will come from within. This is a great way for students’ strengths to be discovered. All students have to do for this activity is to take about five minutes each day to sketch. It can be anything that they wish. You can do this challenge for a week, a month, or even throughout the year. Once the challenge is over, you can ask your students what they discovered about themselves after looking back on their sketches.
You can help students discover their strengths by simply allowing them to play. For younger students, this can be quite easy, because you’ll be able to tell very easily their preferences by just watching where they go or what they chose to play. One student may prefer to play sports while another likes to build Legos or play dress-up. For older students, you can foster their strengths by giving options to play board games, video games, outdoor sports, or card games. The more they play, the more they’ll discover their many strengths.
Identity Day is day is a day where all students prepare, plan, and share a presentation about themselves to their classmates. This day was first started in Forest Green School where the staff and students would share something they were passionate about. The idea behind this activity is for students to create a project that has no set topic or criteria, but is simply created by the student to showcase a little bit about themselves. This activity encourages all students to develop their strengths and passion in a way that is suitable for them.
Instead of always working on what your students need to improve upon, try to create ways for your students’ strengths to be used. By helping students discover their talents and passions, you’ll not only boost their self-confidence, but you’ll start them on the road to a successful life.
How do you use classroom management to determine the strengths of your students? Do you partake in any of the activities mentioned above? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you on this topic.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.