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Empowering Educators: Embracing a Strengths-Based Teaching Practice

  • Leona Lodge 4444 Mountain Boulevard Oakland, CA 94619 (map)

This Empowering Educators workshop is a joint learning experience that offers a unique opportunity for educators and students to explore together positive strategies of a strength-based teaching practice.  Teachers are encouraged to bring a student interested in learning about a strength-based mindset with them to the workshop – for the purposes of increasing application, building positive relationships and holding intergenerational dialogue.

A strength-based teaching approach seeks to understand and develop the strengths and capabilities of individual teachers and students in ways that can transform the lives of youth in positive ways.  Participants will be invited into an inquisitive exploration of the power of positive psychology and strength-based classroom design and practices which support and appreciate the intrinsic nature of each person.


Goals of the workshop:

  • To introduce educators to strengths-based concepts, including:

    • How to INCORPORATE the teacher’s strengths into teaching

    • How to ADAPT teaching styles to match teacher’s strengths

    • How to CONSIDER students’ needs from different perspectives and mindsets

  • To explore how talent themes impact the role of educator and student


Key objectives of the strengths-based workshop component are for participants to be able to:

  • Appreciate their uniqueness related to their individual talent themes

  • Explore specific strengths-based strategies that can be applied to the teaching/learning process

  • Identify approaches to help students apply their strengths to their school, home and community

  • Apply workshop information to teach more effectively and intentionally

  • Improve personal productivity, communication, and teamwork


Maximum Educator Participants: 25

Maximum Student Participants: 10

(or 18 educators and 18 students - depending on if educators can bring a student)

Deadline for Registration: January 16, 2016



Important Instructions for all participants:

  • Each participant will be asked to take a Strengths Finders self-assessment survey prior to the workshop.  Although normally the cost for taking this survey is $15, Project Pathways is providing this to you, free of charge, as a gift to you and your teaching practice.

  • The information uncovered within the survey will be explored by the participant during the workshop.  

  • Survey takes ½ hour to complete and needs to be completed by Saturday, January 23, 2016.

  • Attending educators are responsible for arranging for student attendance based upon own district’s protocol for Student Field Trip Permission.  2 copies of the signed and dated permission slips need to accompany the arrival of the teacher with the student.  


What is a strength-based approach?

“A strength-based approach is a positive psychology perspective that emphasizes the strengths, capabilities and resources of a student. Those who embrace a strength-based perspective hold the belief that all youth and their families have strengths, resources and the ability to recover from adversity. This perspective replaces an emphasis on problems, vulnerabilities, and deficits. Strength-based approaches are developmental and process- oriented. It identifies and reveals a young person’s internal strengths and resources as they emerge in response to specific life challenges. A strength-based paradigm uses a different language to describe a person’s difficulties and struggles. It allows one to see opportunities, hope and solutions rather than just problems and hopelessness.”


"Embracing a Strength-Based Perspective and Practice in Education." (2011): Resiliency Initiatives, 2011. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.





About Dr. Rona Zollinger:

Rona Zollinger, Empowering Educators Program Manager and Facilitator for the New Leaf Collaborative, finds inspiration in the process of imagining educational environments that nurture connections between teachers, students, communities and the earth. In addition to her after-hours workshop facilitation, she works as the College and Career Pathways Coordinator for Martinez Unified School District. For the last decade, she facilitated a transdisciplinary curriculum for at-risk youth where students and community leaders worked in concert for learning and change. She was recently the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year and a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow.


About Corinne Christiansen:

Corinne Christiansen is an advocate for teens. She has taught at-risk youth for more than 25 years in the United States and Japan, beginning with a residential treatment center that taught her to always look beyond a young person’s surface presentation to their soul hidden within. Corinne was the lead teacher of highly successful California Partnership Academy at Concord High before moving to the Martinez Unified School District. In partnership with Rona Zollinger, Corinne co-created and continues to teach in the New Leaf Leadership Academy on the Vicente Martinez High School campus. Her greatest joy is creating opportunities for her students to realize their own potential, strength and power.


About Harriette Heibel:

Harriette Heibel is an organizational development consultant with H2 Solutions, a company that “helps organizations run better from the inside out” by providing coaching, training in communication and team building, meeting and group dynamics facilitation, and strategic planning. She has over 20 years of experience working in and with public agencies, solid waste companies, school districts, chambers of commerce, and not-for-profit organizations. Harriette holds a Masters Degree in Organizational Development from the University of San Francisco, and a Bachelors of Arts Degree in both English and German from the University of Illinois. She is a certified Gallup Strengths Coach, and is also certified in the use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. She is the proud grandmother of 2 year-old Elle Renee.



Supporting Quotes:

“We must look on our children in need not as problems, but as individuals with potential... I would hope we could find creative ways to draw out of our children the good that there is in each of them.” - Archbishop DesmundTutu


“Human relationships are the heart of schooling. The interactions that take place between students and teachers and among students are more central to student success than any method of teaching literacy, or science, or math. When powerful relationships are established between teachers and students, these relationships frequently can transcend the economic and social disadvantages that afflict communities and schools alike.”  -Cummins (1996)


Reference article:

Embracing a Strength-Based Perspective and Practice in Education