In our video blog yesterday, we talked about focusing on the positive with our students. Whether we think of ourselves as positive people or not, it can be challenging to identify and celebrate our students’ strengths—especially when they have some substantial learning differences and struggles. However, taking the time to do just that is incredibly important.

In order to make this happen, we must be intentional about looking for strengths, making sure to think outside the box. One student may be gifted in kindness, having unusual empathy for those around; while another may be an excellent communicator and story-teller. Actual skills (musical ability, artistic aptitude, sports talent, etc.) also present a great opportunity to praise and encourage, but we should make sure not to over-emphasize success alone. Focusing more so on character strengths—such as honesty and integrity—can help our students define themselves based on who they are, rather than on what skills they have.

As we begin to celebrate the positive, our students may enjoy a slight break from the constant awareness of their weaknesses. We get to help them develop an atmosphere of encouragement—one that fosters confidence and growth. And finally, as we learn to do this with our students, we can take it a step further and look for strengths in our families, friends, and co-workers. Let’s choose a lifestyle of encouragement!