Using Strengths-based Approaches with Students and Communities

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Strengths- based practice is used successfully in social work and other areas of human services so how can educators use a strengths-based approach in educational settings? Strengths- based practice can be described as a process that begins with the worker engaging with and assisting the client in a process of ‘client-led’ identification of needs and solutions and presumes that clients are the principal resource for change. Many practices within education are inherently deficit based, assuming that the teacher has all the knowledge that will be required by the student and that the context in which the learning is taking place is of little relevance. A strengths-based approach can be of benefit in contextualising learning and thus enhancing the engagement of students from a broad range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Such an approach can also assist in creating sustainable and workable relationships with parents and the school community. This interactive workshop will draw on the research into successful student and family engagement in schools by The Family Action Centre (University of Newcastle, Australia) through case studies, experiential activities and resources developed by the Centre.


Keywords: Strength-Based, Schools, Communities
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
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Victoria Clay

Team Leader, Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Victoria Clay B.A. Dip.Ed. M. (Ed) Psych Family Action Centre University of Newcastle Victoria initially trained as a primary school teacher and taught in the country areas of NSW. She completed her Master of Psychology (Ed) at the University of Newcastle in 1991 and registered as an educational psychologist in 1993. Victoria joined the Family Action Centre at the University of Newcastle in 2003 and is presently working as a Team Leader, coordinating the Teaching and Learning section of the Centre. Her research interests are around gender differences in social/emotional issues, developing emotional and educational resilience and developing positive school and community partnerships. Victoria is currently researching her PhD and is looking at the connections between gender, pedagogy, classroom environment and self-concept. As a result of her research into boys, families and literacy she has co-authored the Boys and Families: Literacy Strengths Resources and the Resilience Identification Resources.

Deborah Hartman

Manager - Research, Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Deborah Hartman Dip Teach (DDIAE), BA (Macquarie), Grad Dip Teaching English as a Second Language (Darwin), MEd (Deakin) Deborah has been an educator for over twenty years. She has taught primary aged children in Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, where she worked as a teacher, teacher-educator and curriculum developer with Aboriginal communities. Deborah is the mother of two fine young men-in-training and has an interest in the care and education of boys, both as a teacher and parent. She is currently the Manager of Research and Dissemination at the Family Action Centre. She is particularly interested in women's work with boys and the relationship between the social and academic outcomes for boys and those for girls. Deborah believes that child-care and school settings offer us important opportunities for developing wonderful, equitable relationships between boys and girls and for assisting both boys and girls to reach their full potential.

Ref: L08P0553