questions to ponder

Was at HKU last Wednesday for this seminar by Dr. Tony Ghaye: Being a Great Teacher–Putting your strengths to work

Mostly education students, a few teachers, a few professors from the HKU Faculty of Education and a couple people from other fields like medicine.
It was more a conversation which was nice.

HKU is on a mountain–view from the education building

A few things I jotted down that stood out…

  • What are you going to do for the rest of your life?
  • In life choices, are you walking positively towards something or do you see it as moving away from something negative?
  • How can we engage positively with others?

If you ask deficit based questions, you have deficit based conversations and deficit based actions. What significant changes would need to be made to have more strength based conversations vs. deficit based ones? The key to full engagement is conversations being started about strengths.

What would it take to build organizations around what works rather than what doesn’t?

To be successful, study success.

How do you improve what you do?
In order to improve would  you naturally focus on problems or successes? (achievement, success, purpose)
What do we want MORE of?


How do you move from good to great? (assuming you want to)
Ask every colleague to identify what they are best at doing (self reflection) then do the reflected best self: When you see me at my best, what do you see me doing?
Sometimes how we see ourselves is not how others may see you.
What processes need to be put into place to make that happen?


What is a strength of yours?
What are the articulated strengths in your organization?
What are the collective strengths of your community?
How often do you use your strengths at work?
What people with what strengths would you need in your team to _____?
If you could invite one more person on your team with a particular strength, who would you invite? (strength asset building)
How can teams be fluid?

Embracing change:

  • The stronger we are, the more open minded we are.
  • Building strength helps us cope with change better.

At work…
When you are at your best, what are you doing?

Sometimes our strengths can be weaknesses too. (perception but also action to be considered)
When you are at your best, what are you thinking?
When you are at your best, what are you feeling?
(emotional intelligence)
How many opportunities do you have to talk about how you feel about what you do?
How we feel about ourselves is the platform upon which everything else is built.

Feelings affect how we think, and how we think affects what we do.

Explore the kinds of things we need to say and do in our workplace that enable us to flourish and be the best we can be in those circumstances.


Name one thing you would change at work that would help you use your strengths more often.
What do you LOVE most about your work?

We want to be engaged more in what we love doing.

Other positive emotions: How optimistic, resilient, hopeful… are you?
If we can have conversations that elevate positive emotions, we can do more.

The Broaden and Build Theory   (Barbara Fredrickson)
It describes and explains how positive emotions can improve what you do.

Positive emotions broaden your thought-action repertoire ( eg. more open-minded, flexible,creative….)

Linking action with reflection

  1. What’s successful and positive…here, right now (appreciate)
  2. What do we need to change to make things better in the future (imagine)
  3. How do we do this? (design)
  4. Who takes action and with what consequences (act)


Shift in action research…

Action Research (AR) finding a problem, fixing it and getting better at it
Participatory Action Research (PAR) I → we
Participatory and Appreciative Action Research (PAAR) what we are seeing more of now

One needs to adopt a multidisciplinary viewpoint. Continue your learning journey.

His other seminar How to think like Leonardo da Vinci: Writing reflectively and getting published is tomorrow–April 16, 5pm at HKU. Looks interesting but WASC calls and don’t think that meeting will end in time to traverse across most of HK to get there in time.

And if you’re interested in conversing about the direction education in Hong Kong is going, EdCamp Hong Kong is this coming Saturday at Quarry Bay School. See you there!


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