Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

First Advisor

Jerusha Beckerman

Second Advisor

Denisha Jones


Teaching practices centering a deficit lens of the child do not provide the space needed for every child to thrive in the American public education system today. This is why I call for strength-based teaching. A strength-based approach to teaching calls for the decentering of deficits and the centering of strengths, knowing our students, the room to make mistakes, freedom from labeling, acceptance and value of all student differences while simultaneously honoring all student knowledge as official knowledge, and the centering of marginalized voices. Our school system today relies primarily on state standards and standardized testing to measure intelligence, forcing our students and teachers to learn and teach towards what a small group of people at the top of the totem pole have deemed official knowledge. This kind of practice teaches our student body what knowledge is valuable in society. By centering student strengths in the classroom we value them as individuals rather than humans to be filled with information that they are missing or don’t know; therefore they can build upon the knowledge they already possess. Strength-based teaching values every student and places emphasis on their right to succeed.