Focusing on What's Right About Kids

Wikipedia defines hope as the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life or in the world at large. Gallup has identified hope as driving attendance, credits earned, and GPA of high school students. Gallup’s data that suggests that hope is a more robust predictor of college success than high school GPA, SAT, and ACT scores.

One of the FISD strategies to increase hope in our students and staff is our Strengths initiative as we Power UP with our Strengths.  All FISD staff, as well as all 6th-12th grade students, take the StrengthsFinder, an online personal assessment which outlines the user's strengths and encourages them to build on their natural talents, rather than focus on their weaknesses.

This week we met with the 80/20 Foundation (the charitable organization that provided a grant to FISD to support the Strengths initiative) and representatives from a school district in San Antonio that is interested in leveraging their students’ and staff’s Strengths as well.  During the visit, we heard from a panel of FHS students and teachers to learn more about the benefit of our Strengths initiative and how we can improve current strategies and activities.

One student commented that the StrengthsFinder assessment was “scary accurate”.  Everyone, students and teachers, agreed with that comment.  All students and teachers commented that it is beneficial knowing their strengths. One of our teachers commented that knowing her strengths and those of her colleagues makes for a more productive work environment, while another commented that he has changed some of his teaching strategies as a result of knowing his strengths.

The students also had some great feedback about how knowing their strengths has helped them.  One of our students commented, “Who doesn’t like to be told they are good at something”.  Another student shared that she sought a leadership position in an organization after seeing that her strengths could help that group. Students gave specific examples of how knowing their strengths has, in a sense, given them permission to use their strengths, making them feel more confident. As a district whose mission is to build character, knowledge and confidence, that specific comment is music to our ears.

Focusing on Strengths, what is right with staff and students is one more way we are preparing our students for a prosperous life.