Thursday, January 17, 2008

Using Assets to Create Staff Development

One of my current dilemmas is to create some staff development for houseparents. Consistent with the school's desire to work more from strengths as well as the PDC's direction using assets as our primary strategy, I want to take as pure an assets based approach as I can. But, I'm not sure how to do it.

I asked houseparents to email me their strengths around houseparenting. Not all responded (that's one problem that I encounter when working with staff - lack of response). One houseparent said, "I don't think I'm good at anything around houseparenting." Those that did respond led to a list of mixed items from specific to general, from behaviors to outcomes. Here's one response:

  • Regular check-ins with students
  • Dealing with student’s conflicts as soon is possible
  • With the exception of a few days a trimester, be available for students. Available to talk, available for them to make a phone calls, for them to take their meds when needed, available for them to cook, drink tea, watch TV
  • Create conditions to have fun. Have games available, movies, music, food etc
I think these are good things, but now I'm left with wondering what to do with this information. My initial thought had been to look for patterns amongst houseparents, focus on the most widespread strengths, and develop a workshop that supports sharing that work. For some reason, I'm stuck.

Recently I signed onto an online course taught by Luther Snow who wrote The Power of Asset Mapping. The course has an option to get feedback from the instructor on one's project. So, I intend to send Luther my houseparent staff development project to get ideas for how to proceed.

Reading Luther's book has already influenced our thinking. He suggests getting the group together that has the assets to find their own connections amongst their strengths and develop new actions as a result of connecting those assets in a new way. It means I can facilitate this process but don't have to know in advance how to use the strengths suggested by the houseparents.

He also suggests that while I facilitate the process, I include myself in the process as well. What strengths or assets do I have to offer. Focus on the affinity I have for this group. Sounds promising.


BGJeff said...

I think that sounds like a good approach. While you are focused on a Strength based approach, I think it might be still be difficult for some to identify their own personal strengths. We often look at others and see the things that they do well and their strengths. This could be a way to help people identify what strengths they possess and have them work off of that.

Al Sylvia said...


Are you advocating for having the group do an Asset of each other? That sounds like a fantastic idea!

You just gave me the next rookie strand! Thanks, man!