Our experience suggests Seven Best Practices for Implementing SMART Strengths. The following are those best practices, and some ideas on what we can do to help you implement these constructive practices:
Best Practice #1: Get top level buy-in. Ultimately, teachers will drive the SMART Strengths approach in your system or school. However, as teachers lead, they will need support from top leadership, and that demands some direct understanding and experience with the SMART Strengths approach. You might start with a Decision Maker Q&A Webinar.
Best Practice #2: Plan to measure results. What could a SMART Strengths approach accomplish in your system or school? Improved student achievement? In what form: grades, test scores, graduation? Increased retention of new hires? Improved teacher leadership? Lower absences and illness among students, teachers, and staff? Better morale? Improved school climates? Increased parental support? We will work with you and your evaluation team to design an implementation plan that will support data-based analysis.
Best Practice #3: Test the waters. Give an evaluation team of teachers a chance to experience SMART Strengths training, put it to work in their classrooms, and report back.
Best Practice #4: Rapidly build momentum. Support the evaluation team of teachers through continued professional development, coaching, webinars, discussion groups, newsletters, and listservs as they gain in content knowledge and application experience for SMART Strengths in the classroom.
Best Practice #5: Apply SMART Strengths toward institutional challenges. Demonstrate commitment to the approach by personally and organizationally using the tools for important challenges.
Best Practice #6: Develop internal expertise. Ultimately, you want to be self-sufficient in both the application and training of SMART Strengths. Pull from early participants who demonstrate excellence to develop in-house facilitator and coaches, and use this expertise to reduce costs and increase effectiveness of SMART Strengths training for more teachers.
Best Practice #7: Start reaching out early beyond your school or system. The SMART Strengths skills are fundamental human capacities. We recommend that you reach out early to individuals who have an interest in your organization, but not in a day-to-day presence. Make them aware of the effort. Include them in the training, if possible.