Focusing on a Team’s Strengths

Educators are collaborating within Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in schools and districts across the state of Texas.  In doing so, they are putting in place practices aligned to the Vision.  And, as a result of this “better together” mentality, students are reaping the benefits as their teachers focus on a shared commitment to learning for all.

The move to coaching teachers within teams as professional learning communities is one that comes with much valuable work.  For those who are familiar with a deficit mentality – with a focus on weaknesses, a move to an asset perspective may be quite a change.

Asset Mindset

  • What strengths exist?
  • What opportunities can be built upon?
  • What positive attitudes exist?

Deficit Mindset

  • What is missing?
  • What problems can be identified?
  • What negative attitudes exist?

Out of context, it may appear that we should avoid conversations around areas of weakness.  This is not the case, though.  Rather, the difference is in the perspective and the movement in conversation to the assets as soon as possible. For example, if a team determines data shows their students are struggling with a certain concept, the focus should quickly turn to how to determine what the students do understand and how to use this, developmentally, to guide them to the target goal.  This is a much different conversation than one that remains in the negative, deficit arena.

The asset-versus-deficit mindset applies to the processes and collective commitments of the team of educators as well.  This is not about operating with rose-colored glasses, this is about moving forward to opportunities for improvement instead of dwelling upon the shortcomings of the team.  For example, if it is determined that team members have not had the opportunity to attend professional learning on a certain teaching strategy they believe will benefit their students, an asset-focused discussion may include short term solutions and long term proposals to achieve this learning.

When designing a professional learning community Strategy Implementation Guide (SIG), teams write Anchor Statements to articulate what success looks like.  Then, indicators of what below proficient, proficient, and beyond proficient are written.  These are important to reflect the asset mindset of the team and the developmental progression of the movement along the trajectory of success for each element of the SIG.

In the coming weeks, I will share more tools to support the work of teachers as members of professional learning communities and the potential outcome: high levels of learning for all students.

More information about supporting professional learning communities can be found here:

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