Last week, I spent 2 incredible days with 11 teachers from Catholic Junior College (CJC) teaching them how to use the CliftonStrengths Strengthsfinder tool in developing their peers and students. These 11 school teachers don’t just teach.
They also coach and mentor.
And in my opinion, they are at the forefront of birthing strengths based, strengths focused coaching conversations in our schools in Singapore.
For me, it was exhilarating to be working with the right people in the right room. It is not just talking about the 34 talent themes in the CliftonStrengths (Strengthsfinder) tool. But it is about talking to 11 individuals who are fascinated with the idea that Strengths can unlock the true potential and capabilities of teachers and students.
And there are 5 things these teachers did to foster a strengths engagement culture in their school.
1. They Introduced The Strengths Language
CJC knew the values they wanted to imbue in their students. The values of resilience, love, learning, etc. And they wanted to be better at helping their students live out these values.
With the introduction of the strengths language to the school through the CliftonStrengths (Strengthsfinder) tool, it gave them the unique language of “how” they can help students live out those values.
So what did they do?
They started by getting all their teachers and students do the CliftonStrengths (Strengthsfinder) assessment. They helped everyone learn about their Top 5 Signature Talent Themes.
2. They Trained The Few
Their approach to developing a strengths based culture in their school is laser focused.
While they introduced the CliftonStrengths (Strengthsfinder) language to everyone, they knew that not everyone would be ready to champion or use this immediately.
So they focused on a few.
They started with a smaller group of teachers who would be the initial champions and drivers of the strengths movement and transformation.
It is this focus, I believe, that would give them the the ability to make conversations around strengths engagement a possibility.
3. They Make Time
We spent the 2 days training these 11 teachers during a normal school day.
I was actually very intrigued. How is this possible? Did they “ponteng” their classes?
And I later found out that they had made arrangements with other teachers to cover for them during those 2 days.
Now, that is not just a commitment to learning. That is creativity in action to learn! I am so so impressed with this bunch of teachers.
So a shout out to the principal of Catholic Junior College – YOU’VE GOT A GREAT TEAM!
4. They Stayed Curious
Teachers are really smart.
After all, they teach for a living. So who am I to be strutting in front of them?
And the fun part is this: I am not seen as strutting around. These 11 are really super curious. They are not cut from the same cloth and their curiosity stemmed from all their different talent themes of futuristic, command, ideation, harmony, empathy, analytical, consistency, responsibility…
I often see this kind of phenomena. When you help people learn how they think, feel and behave through their talent themes, people draw confidence from their talent themes in being more curious, more teachable.
And their courageous curiosity was absolutely so fun to work with!
5. They Stayed Real
Throughout the 2 days, the 11 were very clear on what they needed.
They were not there to get an inspirational ra-ra session. They were there to learn the real skills and capabilities in using the CliftonStrengths (Strengthsfinder) tool in a school environment.
So they stayed real, practical and asked hard questions. And they did all that with the peers and students that they are interacting with in mind.
I am definitely kept on my toes and it was all worth it.
I sincerely believe that we are going to see a growing transformation in the culture, environment and spirit in the school.
For many principals, SSDs or teachers, bringing strengths to schools in Singapore is not difficult.
What’s difficult is in making it stick.
And CJC showed us how it can be done. And we can all see it happening.
Because they now have a strengths language. They have a devoted few. And the devoted few are trained and willing to practice.
Kim Pong is the CEO and Founder of StrengthsAsia, Creator of the REFRAME MasterClass and the first 20 Gallup Certified Strengths Coaches in the world. He is based in Singapore and works with organizations in Asia in creating an engaged workplace culture for leaders, managers and executives to thrive.