Reforming Through Our Strengths

In the recent past, I have been reading endless blogs and seeing news headlines (and Oprah shows) that focus on all the problems with the current education system (much of these focus on the US system but there is a relation to the Canadian system).  We are bombarded with examples of educators that have been fired, test scores that are too low, and students who cannot read.

We often look at our students in this same way – through deficit thinking, the idea to try to bring up the weaknesses. Lately, a lot of schools and teachers are doing not only this but focusing more on the opposite; instead of bringing up the weaknesses, they are focusing on the strengths.

After reading Pernille Ripp’s post today, I thought: what if, instead of focusing on the weaknesses and problems with our current system, if we started to highlight the great things that are happening in schools every day throughout Canada and the world?

By walking through our school, being on Twitter and reading blogs from some fantastic educators, I see and read about amazing things that happen in schools every day – blogs that don’t focus on test scores, data, violence, or punishments.  These educators are writing about Identity Days, encouraging students to be proud of who they are, amazing things grade 1 students do in their first week, seeing students for who they truly are, and tapping into the leadership of our students.  What would happen if stories like this dominated the media?  Would we see a more positive education reform by showcasing examples of deeper learning and strength-based education?

I realize that we cannot ignore the problems that are embedded in the education systems of Canada and the US but we cannot forget the endless wonderful things that happen each and every day in our schools.  Many students ARE learning and participating in engaging lessons that focus on the learner.  Many teachers ARE looking beyond the external behaviours and forming relationship to show how much they deeply care for their students.  Schools ARE transforming from factory-models to learner-centred environments that put the students first.

So instead of slamming the deficits, why not reform through focusing on our strengths?

Originally posted on The Wejr Board Blog.  The #educationnation chat on Twitter occurred after I wrote this post.  I would love to learn from you; keep the conversation going by adding your comments and/or following me on Twitter.


  1. Janet Avery said:

    Nicely done Chris! You hit it right on the head. I encourage teachers to “catch their kids being good” to assist in classroom management – the same idea can absolutely be applied to learning! If focus on even the small victories, we can see great changes occur! Thanks for your post.


    September 27, 2010
    • Benitta said:

      I agree with Chris and Janet. We are so quick to talk about the negative. We need to highlight what we are doing right and the people who are doing right so that others will want to do right. As a previous classroom teacher, nothing worked like me highlighting something one of the students or their parents did for the betterment of themselves or the school. We take pride in what we do when we are often times given credit for what was done.

      September 29, 2010
      • Chris Wejr said:

        Janet, the simple idea of focusing on the good can be applied in many ways – especially at times like these!

        Benitta, setting the bar with examples of what is working is a very powerful tool; we must encourage others to set the bar in areas of their strengths and move forward with these leaders.

        Thanks for commenting!

        September 29, 2010

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