Your Strengths at School– The 360° Strengths Gallery
Many young people are self-conscious about how they see themselves in the world and are concerned about how their peers see them. Some students tend to either exaggerate or understate their signature strengths. By asking students to share what strengths they see in each other, students can compare the way others see his or her strengths. The feedback from external observers, both students and teachers, can help provide checks-and-balances to participants’ choices on their respective strengths profiles. At one high school, junior girls were invited to share what they thought to be the strengths of their fellow students. Each girl was provided with a copy of the 24 VIA strengths and definitions. Then, in small groups of approximately six students each, the girls shared what they thought to be the signature strengths of each other. One girl observed that the majority of people in her group suggested that creativity was one of her strengths. She said, “No way!” and claimed that this trait was far from being a signature strength as observed from her individual VIA score. But each girl shared an example of her being creative—her strength in action. The value of the “Strengths 360” provided her with multiple observations of being creative. Because her peers see her strength of creativity, she sees herself differently. She now owns this strength. Here’s how the activity goes:
- Based on reviewing the 24 strengths of the VIA, have students choose what they believe to be another student’s signature strengths.
- With large newsprint, have each student write their name on the top of a sheet.
- Tape each sheet to the wall and have the student stand next their corresponding sheet.
- Give each student a marker.
- Going either clockwise or counterclockwise, have each student rotate to the next sheet and write down the strengths they observe in each corresponding student.
- If there are multiple endorsements for a certain strength, then the student will place a check-mark next to the strength.
- After completing this portion of the activity, have the students circle around one of the completed sheets. The teacher asks the students to provide one or two examples of how they see this strength come alive in the chosen student.
- Then the chosen student will share how their VIA strengths match up with what his or her peers perceive as strengths.
- Rotate to each student in the class.
– From SMART Strengths Copyright 2011: John Yeager, Sherri Fisher, David Shearon