#4: Make the Shift to Asset-Based Thinking

This is the fourth post in the Building a Reading Community blog series to kick off the 2022-23 school year. All posts in the series can be found here.

One of the more powerful things a teacher can do to both positively build a reading community and enhance teaching and learning is to embrace the mind shift of seeking out what students are doing as opposed to what they are not doing.

When students feel valued and that their strengths are seen and honored before all else, many positives will arise. Some of the benefits I noticed in my own classroom when I made this shift years ago were that students became more likely to share, their motivation grew, they felt safer to take risks in their learning, and they started to support and lift each other up more.

If making the shift to asset-based thinking about students is new to you, consider framing your thinking around these questions. Sometimes, the first questions will be all you need. Other times, you’ll need to use the second question to guide your thinking.

  1. What is this student doing well? or What is a reading strength I see in this student?
  2. How can I turn this observation into a positive to better serve this student?

I actually have these questions written on a note taped to my conferring clipboard. So, every time I meet with a student, I’m reminded to seek out the assets before all else. Below are two examples of intentionally pushing my thinking as a teacher to make the shift from deficit-based thinking to asset-based. The more you make the shift, the easier it will become. Eventually, it will become your default way of thinking if you continually work on it.

It’s quite easy to notice all the things that aren’t going well. Noticing the positives, or reframing the perceived deficits to be assets will change the trajectory of your reading community in a big way!

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Up Next in the Series: #5: Teach Student How to Choose Books. All posts in this blog series can be found linked here. To learn more about shifting to asset-based thinking about students, check out pages 16 and 107-108 in Answers to Your Biggest Questions About Teaching Elementary Reading.

Published by

Christina Nosek

Teacher, Author, Literacy Consultant