One central question that Gallup researchers have asked is: What drives student engagement? It’s a crucial question; their research shows that a one-percentage-point increase in a school’s average student engagement score was associated with a six-point increase in reading achievement, and an eight-point increase in math achievement. Any educator could tell you that engagement level makes a vital difference in a student’s education.
But back to the initial question: How can schools impact student engagement? Gallup research has further shown that the number one driver of student engagement is teacher engagement. In fact, Gallup found that a student is 30 times more likely to be engaged if he or she believes their school is committed to building upon their strengths, and has just one teacher who makes that student excited about the future.
Focusing on the strengths of staff and of students is key to engagement and thus to outcomes. Gallup Education is now working directly with schools to help educators in this arena. Getting Started: Leading the Way to Strengths-based Schools is an on-site professional development program that increases student outcomes by recognizing and leveraging the power of educators’ strengths.
At this year’s Naviance Summer Institute, Naviance Network members received a preview in the free Strengths Coaching Café with a Gallup Consultant, and the opportunity to discuss their assessment results after taking StrengthsFinder®, Gallup’s premier strengths assessment.The sharing of strengths not only facilitated networking and unique discussions among NSI attendees, but demonstrated the impact that Getting Started: Leading the Way to Strengths-based Schools can have on their school’s culture, and in turn, their students.
Strengths in Leadership
The themes that emerged from the feedback showed how focusing on strengths is critical for school leaders. “It has made me more aware of how I think, and the differences between me and those I lead and follow,” one attendee said. “I have asked all of my team members to take StrengthsFinder ® online. We are using the results as a way to build unity and understanding among our team members.”
Gallup’s research on workplace engagement has found that workplace engagement increases when workers are given the opportunity to do what they’re best at every day, and their 2014 report, State of America’s Schools, revealed that engaged teachers “not only challenge students to grow, but they also trust, encourage, and engage their fellow teachers, building the foundation for a great school.”
“Using your strengths every day helps you become more engaged at work,” said another Strengths Cafe participant. “Understanding others' strengths helps promote teamwork.”
“I thought that it was good to hear how someone talked about the results so that you could use that as a model with students,” an attendee noted.
Each educator brings his or her own strengths to the table; the ability to recognize and capitalize on these unique strengths is necessary to creating a healthy culture that fosters teacher engagement and creates positive student outcomes.
“I think enhancing our strengths is the best way to grow,” said another Strengths Café participant.
Howard County Schools, located outside Baltimore, Maryland, are on the cutting edge of creating staff development around the strengths of their employees. The district has been working closely with Gallup to create strengths-based training for teachers, counselors, administrators, and staff. Come back next month for a post by Lisa Boarman, Howard County’s Coordinator of School Counseling and Related Services, on how learning and leveraging her strengths has reshaped her outlook and her work. For more information on Getting Started: Leading the Way to Strengths-based Schools, contact us.
Are you leading with strengths?