Strength Based Strategies

Extra Help for Students in Special Education

"Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies for Students with Special Needs" by Thomas Armstrong

Overall, I found this webinar to be very insightful. I have a very fond opinion of Ted-ED talks, and I feel like Dr. Armstrong could condense this webinar from an hour down to 20 minutes and present a very compelling Ted-ED lesson. I thoroughly enjoyed the content, and found it very relevant to my current position of being an elementary special education inclusion teacher. The presentation was full of interesting examples and anecdotal stories that appropriately backed up his main points. It also gave several practical suggestions for everyday classroom use.

Take-Aways from the Webinar

1. Bio-diversity is celebrated. Differences among types of flowers are beautiful. Cultural diversity is valued. Different customs, traditions, and beliefs are interesting. Neurodiversity focuses on deficits and disabilities based on cultural norms.

2. Neurodiversity is "an idea which asserts that atypical neurological development is a normal human differences that is to be recognized and respected as any other human differentiation".

3. Social values dictate the existence of disorders. For example- Students with ADHD and people who are in creative professions share many similar characteristics. Students with ADHD are often called impulsive, and the creative person is called spontaneous. Another example- Impulsivity, a characteristic which is often frowned upon in schools now, was historically a trait of the most skilled and valued hunters.

4. Teach students to adapt to the environments around them and while simulataneously adapting the environment to meet the needs of the student.

5. You can construct a "positive niche" environment by things such as focusing on students' strengths, providing positive role models, using assistive technology and universally designing lessons.

Additional Resources on Strength-Based Instruction and Tools to Accept Neurodiversity in the Classroom

This website introduces a fun activity to do with students in your classroom. It encourages students to identify, own, and celebrate something they are good at.
This website gives you 15 different templates to help students create their own awards!

This article talks about how to understand and include atypical students in the classroom. It also highlights a main benefit of the Strength-Based classroom: encouraging students to become consistent learners.

This resource documents a live chat session and Q&A with the presentor of the webinar, Dr. Armstrong. This adds more value to the webinar, because maybe you had some of the same questions as you listened!

In this academic article, a professor delves more deeply in to what strength based education is, what the nature of having a strength is and the implications of it, as well as how to identify one's strengths.