The 24 VIA Character Strengths are the best parts of our personality that influence how we think, feel and behave. Everyone has all 24 character strengths, some will be stronger in us than others, giving us a unique character profile. Research shows that just being aware of our character strengths can improve our well-being and perception of self. Actively using them and finding new ways to do so adds to this.
As an educator, becoming familiar with the language of strengths and practicing recognising them in ourselves is a good place to start. We can then begin to look for character strengths in our students – encouraging them to recognise what is strong in themselves, how they currently apply their strengths and exploring how they can begin to use them in different ways. The simple fact that you took the time to notice and name their strengths will boost student self-confidence and encourage active use.
Below are examples of identifying character strengths in your students and suggestions on how you could create opportunities for them to develop these further.
Is this them? This student enjoys helping others and sharing. You notice them doing this even when they don’t think anyone is watching.
Stretch: Brainstorm acts of kindness together and set a challenge over the next week for the student to do one new act a day.
Strength: Love of Learning
Is this them? This student is absorbed in and enjoys learning. They like to ask lots of questions and look for opportunities to learn new things.
Stretch: Mind map a particular area of interest together and invite the student to begin a self-directed project which can later be shared with others.
Strength: Zest (Enthusiasm)
Is this them? This student is energetic and upbeat. They enjoy trying their best and get excited about things they’re interested in.
Stretch: Set a personal, meaningful goal together and encourage the student to use all their energy and enthusiasm to achieve this.