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Believing in Strengths: A Faith-Based School's Approach

Believing in Strengths: A Faith-Based School's Approach

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 7, Episode 36
  • Learn from a dedicated school leader with 35 years in education how his faith-based school has worked to integrate CliftonStrengths into the school's curriculum.

On a recent Called to Coach: Australia Edition, we spoke with Graeme Evans, Head of Executive Services at St. Philip's Christian College in Newcastle, Australia. Graeme spoke about his strengths journey and how St. Philip's has sought to integrate CliftonStrengths holistically into the school's curriculum, and the cultural change this has brought. He talked about the importance of believing in strengths and finding touchpoints at which strengths can be integrated, and the variety of ways in which St. Philip's has accomplished this. He also spoke of the difference Gallup's Q12 tool is making in the engagement of the school's employees.

NEW: Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, as well the as well as the offices in Sydney, Australia, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on September 10, 2019.

Jim Collison 0:24

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in our chat room, available for you there right there on YouTube. Or if you're listening after the fact and you have any questions, you can email them to us: Anne Lingafelter is our host today she works as a Learning Solutions Consultant with Gallup out of our Sydney, Australia, office and Anne, it's always great to see you. Welcome back to Called to Coach.

Anne Lingafelter 0:56

Thanks so much, Jim. It's great to be here. The last time I saw you was in Omaha. I don't know if I've been here since then. I don't know if I've been on Called to Coach since then. I can't recall, but but my guest tonight, or today -- depending on where you are -- was with me in Omaha. He was also there at the Summit. And I have recruited him. He spoke at our local event here in Sydney at our Transforming Workplace Culture event and was one of the the crowd favorites. So I decided I would treat the Called to Coach audience as well to my guest Graeme Evans. So Graeme, welcome to Called to Coach.

Graeme Evans 1:31

Thank you very much. And it's good to be with you. And I hope I can live up to that -- that wonderful reputation just you've just given me from the event in Sydney, so no pressure whatsoever.

Anne Lingafelter 1:43

I'm sure that you will, I'm sure that you will. Graeme Evans is a dedicated and passionate school leader with over 35 years teaching experience. He is the past president of Adolescent Success, which is an Australian Professional Development Association for educators. Graeme had the opportunity whilst he was the president of Adolescent Success to visit many campuses across Australia and internationally. He's presented at conferences or consulted with educators in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea. He has a diploma in teaching, bachelor of education, a certificate of gifted education, and a master of educational leadership. And he is also a Gallup-Certified Coach. I know you're going to want to know what his Top 5 are. They are all in the Relationship domain. So Connectedness, Positivity, Developer, Harmony and Empathy. Graeme, I'd love, if you don't mind, for those of us who are listening or watching from all all areas of the globe: Can you tell us a little bit about the context of your school, where it is, what it looks like, how big it is, that sort of thing would help our audience get to know you better.

Graeme Evans 2:58

Certainly, certainly. So we're based in in Newcastle, which is 100 miles outside -- in USA terms -- 100 miles north of Sydney, and one of the nicest parts of Australia. And the organization I'm with is St. Philip's Christian College, and we're an independent Christian school. And we have a number of different campuses. And they're just north, just south and just west of where I am located in Newcastle. And we also have preschools and schools for students who have diagnosed learning needs and also schools for teenage mums, and their partners if they're still together, and their children. So we cater for a wide variety of people. All up we have 4,200 students, 650 staff across the whole organization. My role is in the foundation office now, which helps to manage all of those schools. But until just a few weeks ago, I was deputy principal here at the Newcastle School. And that's where my strengths journey began.

Anne Lingafelter 4:04

Yeah, fantastic. That's really helpful to understand that and I'm sure that it'll be nice today to listen to your your perspective as a deputy principal in one school. And now your broader perspective of someone who's on the foundation board and looking at sort of an overarching strategy. Today, you know, we're going to talk about lots of different aspects of our partnership and our work. So certainly strengths with staff and students; engagement because St. Philip's campus has used -- your campus used the Q12; you've recently done strengths-based parenting for 30 of your teachers, which I'm keen to talk about as well. And also you you've just dabbled in the Gallup Student Poll. So I think that that's a lot of ground to cover in our short time today. I'd love to start at the beginning, though. How did your partnership and knowledge of Gallup begin at St. Philips?

Graeme Evans 5:00

Yes, certainly. So one of our other St. Philip's schools was a little bit ahead of us, they had come across the CliftonStrengths, and they had their staff and some of their senior students take the assessment, and then they had coaches come in and work with them. There's also another local school involved with that. And so its conversations there made our principal aware of that. And for us, it really meshed well with our Christian philosophy. Firstly, that God's made us uniquely individual. And the strengths helps us to understand that and I know the stats that what's the -- the 1 in 33 million in terms of the chance of meeting someone with the same strengths in the same order. And to me that says how unique we are. And the other aspect of that, that really resonated with us was the verse in the Bible that talks about one body but many parts. And again, for me, the strengths helps answer the question, well, I get that concept, but what part am I? And how do I fit in with other people? And so well, we really like the connection between strengths and, and our philosophy, our Christian philosophy. So I was very fortunate that the principal asked if I would be interested in undertaking the advanced coaching training. And with my Top 5, as you've mentioned, all in Relationship, that was pretty easy to, to decide that one.

Anne Lingafelter 6:31

You know, very recently, you invited Al Winseman, who founded the Gallup Faith Practice, to come and speak for 2 days at your staff conference. And I have to say, you know, I do an awful lot of work in my role at Gallup talking about culture, and talking to clients about how to create a powerful, impactful engaging culture with, you know, high performance. And I have to say that, that being there for those two days and experiencing all of your staff and of all those campuses in one spot, was really eye-opening and very interesting to see from, not just because you were a K to 12 school, or a faith-based school, but the culture that was on display there would be enviable in any industry sector. And I think that there's some learning from from specifically what St. Philip's has done that would translate into any, any culture that there -- any any organization that's looking for a really impactful culture. And I'm keen to talk about some of that today. I think, before we go, you know, before we go too far down the road of some of the strengths and engagement and such, there's one cultural element that I'd like to just touch on, which is that process that you and I have talked about before, of, of belonging leads to believing leads to behaving. And whether you're in a faith-based setting or not, I think that that process is, is, is valid, and can be really powerful when you're considering culture. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Graeme Evans 8:10

Yes, certainly. I think it's all about knowing what your organization is all about; really understanding its purpose and its mission statement; and then living that out in an authentic way. And for us, as a Christian school, that's paramount, that we want people to understand that this is the basis of who we are and this is the basis of what we do. It's not the -- in title only, but it's there in reality. So it's all about authenticity, and, and really living that out, and we, we want to be inclusive in what we do. And so students from nonfaith backgrounds are welcome to enroll as well, or students from different faiths. And we want them to feel that same sense of belonging that you're talking about. So for us, it's being authentic.

Anne Lingafelter 9:00

Yeah, it's very interesting, because we do -- Gallup does a lot of work in, in member engagement in faith-based organizations and churches and things like that. And and what we see that same sort of process of believing leading to belonging and behaving, we see that playing out in faith-based spaces as well. Because, you know, people can have a very high individual spiritual faith, but they may not feel engaged to their congregation at their church. So even even if their -- their own individual connection is very strong, without that sense of belonging or engagement with that community, then then they can't be an active and vibrant part of that -- be the best version of themselves, really. And so I think, again, those ideas are really key, whether you're a K to 12 school, or a church or a bank, frankly.

Graeme Evans 9:56

Yes, certainly, I think alongside with that is that the product that you have, has to be a really dynamic one as well. And so, for us, it's not just about being a faith-based school, but being a really good school. I mean, parents want their children to be educated. And so it's got to be a product that that works. That's appealing.

Anne Lingafelter 10:14

Yeah, absolutely. And, and and to that point, you know, that's -- strengths is a is a high-performance strategy, isn't it? So it's really about being being the best version of yourself, because you understand it and know what that's like. So, so let's dig a bit deeper if we can into the strengths journey. Can you talk a little bit about, you know, why it began? You know, what, we talk a lot, don't we, about the "why" behind strengths. So, what was your original "why"? And how do you -- can you talk a bit about the story of that, and how it -- how you applied strengths on campus?

Graeme Evans 10:50

Yeah, sure. I think you've touched on the "why" already, in that, it's about being the best, best version of who you are. And my own personal journey as we've mentioned, my Top 5 are in Relationship. I actually struggled with that initially. I was deputy principal of a campus, and even though our organization has 4,200, our campus is still quite large; it has 1,200 students here. Large for Australia anyway. And I struggled with the fact that my Top 5 only were in Relationship. And I thought, surely as a deputy principal, as an executive member of the school, I should be able to be strategic and analytical and have some kind of influence and execute and get things done. And it wasn't till someone reminded me, Graeme, that it's not what you can do, but how you're going to go about doing things. And so whenever I'm being Strategic, or Executing, or Influencing, or whatever else I need to do, I'll be doing it from a Relationship point of view. And that made a lot of sense to me. But I thought, I'm just going to put this to the test anyway. And so I paid to upgrade and get all 34 strengths. And as that email came, I thought to myself, if No. 6 is in Relationship, I'm going to ask for a refund. But fortunately, No. 6 was Achiever. So I thought, Oh, that's good. I felt a whole lot better then. But in my top 10, I have 6 in Relationship. So I can't get away from from that's who I am.

Graeme Evans 12:23

And I think others have had a similar journey across the campus as well. Either being a little bit disappointed or not quite sure of what that means. And I love that we can explore that and unpack that with them, and as we do that, staff or students, can say, Yeah, I get that now. That's -- That's me. So our journey started in with the school executive. And then we invited school staff to come on board. And we thought it was important that we start with the staff. So then when we roll it out to the students, that when the students are talking about it and staff are talking about is a common language. And they can be talking about Top 5, or how that might work, or an example of someone using their strengths well in the class. So that was the next step to roll it at the senior students. And from there, we had student leaders running small peer groups. So we train up our student leaders to have initial conversations with other students. So obviously, one, one person -- me -- couldn't meet with all of the students, but we trained them up to have initial conversations, so they just found a little bit more understanding of their strengths and talking that through. And if they wanted one-on-one coaching, then that was available as well. So rolling it out through the senior students, and then we worked through other grades as well. We've used StrengthsExplorer with our students aged between 10 and 14. And as you mentioned, we've had Al Winseman train our staff to do the strengths-based parenting, and we'll train up our preschool teachers in that. So right from preschool right through to the senior school, we're going to have a strengths-focused approach in what we do.

Anne Lingafelter 14:15

So how many coaches do you have on staff across all the schools?

Graeme Evans 14:21

Including our school and the other campuses as well, there's only 4 who have actually done the training. And so that's why our next step is to get others trained. Some have actually done different coaching training, Growth Coaching International. So as they become more aware of the strengths, philosophies and ideas, then they can incorporate that. So across the organization there's a number of coaches.

Anne Lingafelter 14:48

How do you with just 4 and and the number of staff and students that you have, how do you get across everyone? I mean, how do you -- where do you embed it in into the day in and day out?

Graeme Evans 15:02

Yeah, that's a really good question. And that's one of the challenges we have is what do you do with with someone, whether it's in my context, or another context, another organization where you might have 1 or 2 people who are trained strengths coaches, and yet you have a number of staff, and as one or two obviously can't work individually with each staff member. Some of our campuses employ the services of other strengths coach who live in the area. And so they'll come in and work with students specifically. And that that model works well for them. For our campus where I was based, they decided to have someone on site -- me -- as a resource person. So it's about looking at different ways of, of getting that strengths message across and having people explore it, and having the conversations going, providing resources. So we might do a whole grade workshop, with, with a cohort, break into small discussion groups and peer-led mentors. And I work with teams of teachers, particularly new teams, who are who are together for the first time; teams of students -- there's a student-led team, sorry, a student-based team who are going to be in a science competition very soon. And they wanted just to understand the dynamics of the different members in the team. So we did some coaching there. Some students aren't interested; they'll do the initial assessment and have a look at that and not want to go any further. So there's a lot of different ways that we, we roll that out. More and more staff are getting involved and interested. And so I might upscale them, give them some resources then to work with their students.

Anne Lingafelter 16:51

So as -- when you were in the deputy principal role, Graeme, how, how did it go for you coaching your staff? Was that an uncomfortable, or sort of a, an awkward scenario? Were you able to coach them comfortably? Or were you sort of were you wearing the a manager hat in that space or a coach hat? How did you how did you manage that balance?

Graeme Evans 17:18

Yes, coaching is primarily about the relationship. Having 6 out of my Top 10 in Relations, Relationships, I think I'm pretty good at that. So all the staff did their assessment initially, and then we did some smaller workshops, and then we offered individual coaching for those who wanted that. And so a number then said, well, let's do that. And over the time, some have said, Look, thank you, and I'll move on. But there's still a few that I coach regularly. And it's been very, very beneficial. One who is in a new leadership position and just supporting her to really do the best in that. And another who's a little more experienced in what he does but was wanting just to keep focusing on working from a strengths position. So it's been an optional thing for staff; they don't all get the one-on-one coaching.

Anne Lingafelter 18:15

Can you tell us some success stories, Graeme, before we move on to a, you know, engagement discussion, and that sort of thing? Can you give us some success stories, through your coaching both of staff and students?

Graeme Evans 18:28

The The, the one for me, that really comes to mind is a teenage girl, she's 16. And we're running a small workshop with some students from her class. And she had this Aha! -- this this light bulb moment where her top strength is Deliberative. And she had always saw that as a weakness, that her friends could make up their mind very quickly and decide which way to go. And she would have to stop and think. And she thought she had to get quicker and had to get better at making decisions. And it's a very simple example. But I think very powerful that she suddenly realized that taking time to think something through was actually a positive, was a strength, and not a weakness. And for teenagers, particularly girls who struggle with identity and who they are emerging as a young adult, to realize that who they are is is good, it's positive, it's -- there's some strengths about it, I think, to me, really hit home the point of of what the strengths all about is people understanding that who they are is a positive is a positive thing. So that's an example I really resonate with.

Graeme Evans 19:48

Another example. Sorry.

Anne Lingafelter 19:50

No, go ahead. No, keep going.

Graeme Evans 19:52

Another example is a team, I was working with team of students, and they were going off to be in a competition and wanted to find out a bit about each other and how they would work together. And so we had a good amount of time together. And they understood the strengths and what each can contribute to the team, what needs they may have from the team. And they went out quite excited about all of that. And they've just come back recently, saying we need to go through this again because we sort of get it. But now the rubber hits the road, this competition is very close. And things are getting a little stressful, intense for them. And they said we need to know what to do with this. We understand it. But what do we do with it? And I love the model that says from awareness through utilization towards optimization -- from awareness through utilization towards optimization. And I think that team, we're at an awareness stage. Yes, we know there's some strengths thing, and we get what each other has. But how do we actually utilize it? And how do we move from that into optimizing it? And that's something that I hammer with the students and also with the staff. Yes, we have this sort of awareness that even across the whole organization of 650 staff, we have this awareness, but how do we move from that point towards utilization and optimization? I guess it's the Name it, Claim it, Aim it -- we have to make sure that we're aiming it.

Anne Lingafelter 21:26


Graeme Evans 21:27

I might just add, I've added an extra thing to Name it, Claim it and Aim it, and I haven't got Gallup's copyright, Jim. So I hope this is OK. But with our students, before we start, I have a precursor and that's "Frame it." What is this strength thing all about? I'm about to be asked to do an assessment, why am I doing that? And what's the basic philosophy of it? Why should I be bothered? So when we Frame it, Name it, Claim it, Aim it -- and Gallup, feel free to adopt that if you wish.

Anne Lingafelter 22:06

And Graeme, didn't you also say that you added "Tame it" sometimes on to the back of that? Or maybe --that was, I've heard that somewhere from from one of my clients, I can't remember who. But sometimes, sometimes we have to tame our strengths as well, don't we, if they're a bit, you know, a bit too strong.

Graeme Evans 22:24


Anne Lingafelter 22:24

So I love that you've had successes. I know that it's something that has been used at St. Philip's to, to great -- a great result. And, and I've interviewed in the past Darren Cox, so I remember he, when he told me that he had brought the schoolday 15 minutes ahead, in order to be able to allow for more time for strengths, I knew that he was taking it seriously. And I thought that was pretty great. So but but you know, as you're talking to parents and and to teachers and students, for those who aren't so sure that this is how, you know, your limited time should be spent. How do you address those challenges? And how do you sell it to the skeptics and those for whom they maybe don't understand it?

Graeme Evans 23:10

Yeah, something that I picked up at the summit, and I'll give it a plug there, was the the concept of touchpoints. Because I was -- I was bothered that we were at that awareness stage, but hadn't moved on well to utilization and optimization. And the question, Anne, is a good one. You know, busy school schedule, and when there's so much pressure to cram so much into the curriculum, how do you have time for something else? And I love the concept of touchpoints, which is find what you're doing already in your your schedule, and see how strengths can be touched upon in that. So after an initial assessment is done and initial discussion, and there's an awareness stage, then how can we then have touchpoints and look for maybe 6 or 7 natural touchpoints throughout the school year. So, for us, one school year starting for us in, in February -- early in the year, we have our new students to high school head off to camp, where they get to know each other, mix and mingle, that'd be a perfect touchpoint. They would have done the StrengthsExplorer; they'd know their Top 3 from that assessment. So how can they use that as a touchpoint at camp in the evening conversations and programs? We have parent-teacher discussions: How's my child settling into the new school year? Well, there's a time to also touch on how staff is seeing their strengths being utilized in the classroom. When we hand out report cards, we have the students write a personal reflection of how they feel they're going. Well, why not focus on the strengths in that as well? We have Parent Information Evenings throughout the year just to update parents on what's happening. Well, that's a chance to talk about strengths, too. So it's looking at all these naturally occurring touchpoints that aren't adding anything more, but they're the perfect way of continuing to embed strengths across the campus.

Anne Lingafelter 25:17

Yeah, no, absolutely. And do you find -- do you guys do different things to measure the impact that this is having? How -- if so, what what do you do?

Graeme Evans 25:31

Yeah, that's one that we're still working towards -- if anyone who is listening has some suggestions, I would love to hear from you. But this is where we've used the the Gallup Student Poll. Because strengths takes time. And there's a cost to it as well. And the question is, well, is it worthwhile? Is it making a difference? And so I love the Gallup Student Poll. We've only done it for the first time, so we haven't got any data to really base that on. But we're going to use that as some type of metric to track through a certain year group, as they move through, to see what difference it's made for them. Even perhaps we could have a focus group and do some more intensive coaching and work with them, and see whether their their engagement and their connection with the school and personal wellbeing is any higher than any other. So there's some things that we want to track through there. But I think the the Gallup Poll -- Student Poll would be a great way to do that.

Anne Lingafelter 26:29

And, and on that note, there is -- there's a kit that's available, it was actually created in the U.S., on the back of the Gallup Student Poll in the U.S., that is, has some materials in it that helps schools be able to do something with their results and look more, you know, more deeply into some of, you know, the impact that strengths and engagement are, you know, having with the students. And there, there is something in they're called a Hope and Engagement Audit that schools can run themselves. And it's it's not on a technology platform. It's something that you guys do with your iPhone and with, you know, your team. And that's something that I can speak to you about later that may be of interest. But there are lots of different ways to do that. And certainly Gallup Student Poll is one and then, of course, with the staff, the Q12 is -- is another way to measure and you guys have also dabbled in Q12. Have you not?

Graeme Evans 27:26

Yes, yes, that's right. And I -- I really love the Q12. I like that it's simple. For those who are watching who aren't familiar with the Q12. Q12 stands for 12 questions, Q12. And these are questions that -- of a hierarchical nature. So it starts with a very basic, Do I know what's required of me? Do I have the materials I need to do my job well? Right through to more advanced measures of engagement. And I love that it's research-based. And I love that it gives you a starting point. So if answers around Question 4 or Question 5 are fairly low, well that that could be a starting point then, for example. But some of their staff said the the questions weren't specific enough. If I think that there's not enough brands of coffee in the tea room, and I don't like that brand, how can I put that on the survey? And it's not what it's about. But what I found was that staff who had something that they needed to talk about would contact an executive person to say, For me, I finished the Q12 but I really need to discuss this issue. And so a lot of the value for us was the discussions that it raised. And so as well as looking at the metrics from the actual survey, a lot of really useful discussions, and that translates into what we call a school improvement plan. So what is it that we need to focus on in the areas of engagement and wellbeing? What other issues were raised becomes part of, of the school improvement plan? So for us a direct link with our improvement.

Anne Lingafelter 29:11

Yeah, fantastic. I, I find that that most of my clients will talk about the fact that the Q12 -- it helps focus them. Because, you know, there's so many things that we that we feel are on our plate, and and areas that, you know, need some attention. But when you only have limited time, where do you focus your energies and your resources? And what what are the things that are most important to performance outcomes? And it's interesting, because when you -- to your point, it's not about the kind of teabags that you have in the in the in the kitchen, right? Those sorts of things are hygiene factors, those those satisfaction areas that don't actually impact performance outcomes. But the Q12 is is -- we also call it the "human needs at work framework," because we know that those needs are really important. And that sort of says, OK, these are the items where you need to look first and and address those those those basic things first. So do you think that there's any difference, really, in the application of, you know, an engagement conversation or Q12 in a school, with school staff versus any other workplace?

Graeme Evans 30:25

Well, that's a good question. I've not been in any other workplace. But the training I did with Q12, and I really valued this, I was the only educator in the room. And we were training at the Gallup headquarters in Sydney. And I like that I was mixing with people across different work sectors and industries, business commerce, sales, marketing, health, manufacturing were all there, and it's just a commonality. And so I think that workplace engagement and wellbeing, for everyone, is something to focus on. I do know that in the education sector, there's a lot of extra pressures that perhaps others don't don't face. We have parents who might be upset with things; we have children; we have community pressures, government policies, and trying to balance all of that can be really challenging for teachers at times. And perhaps, as I say, it's similar in other industries. But certainly, there's a commonality, I think, across all workplaces.

Anne Lingafelter 31:34

Well, and and I mean, I would agree with that. What we find is that most of our clients in different industries always feel that their industry is unique. And and yes, there are uniquenesses about an education environment where life is run by the bell, and those sorts of things. And we see the same can say the same for hospitals and healthcare workers. But that that framework is really about human needs at work, regardless of where your work is. So to that point, I think that, that you're spot on with that. You know, one of the things that I think is really, that I guess I'm most impressed with it at St. Philip's is, is the Dale school. And I think that that that is it, I saw some folks at when I was there, for your two day conference, students were actually came up on the stage and we're talking about their their experience with the school and thanking different educators who had had really helped them. Are you guys bringing strengths into the DALE School as well? And can you talk a little bit about what happens there and in the environment there?

Graeme Evans 32:40

Yes. So DALE stands for Dynamic Alternative Learning Environment. So that's a school set up for students who would not manage to get through mainstream schooling. They have a diagnosed condition, they need things structured in a different way. They have more support with, with social workers, smaller classes. If it's been a tough day for them, and they need to withdraw from class for a while and just unwind, there's someone there to take them and just sit with them. So it's a very unique and different setup. They are looking at strengths. But what we've found for the DALE students so far is some of their learning needs make it a little difficult for them to undertake the regular assessment. But the they're too old in a way to do the StrengthsExplorer. So we're looking at how we can still have a strengths approach with them, even though some of them may not be able to actually do the assessment so the DALE staff certainly are aware of their strengths; are part of our conference where Al was speaking with us in July. They're wanting to focus on that, and particularly important for them, because there's so many negatives in their lives. Often they're the product of a difficult family situation as well. And so for them to realize there is something unique and something special about them is really important. So we're working on how to actually go about doing that.

Anne Lingafelter 34:05

One of the things I think is also kudos to you guys, is that you are the first organization in Australia to run a strengths-based parenting course. Actually, Jim, I don't know if there's been one run, certainly not at a school even in the U.S. So I think it's excellent that you guys reached out and did that. Tell me about that. Tell me about where that thought came from? What you -- who you sent to that course and and what application you're counting on or outcomes you're counting on from that?

Graeme Evans 34:37

Yes, so it's a world first and you heard it right here on Called to Coach. We, we value the children right from that young age. And as mentioned, we have preschool children and even child morning centers. So we have from babies right through. What I didn't mention was that we also have a teaching school. So students who've finished their high school and want to train as a teacher can do that through here as well. So we do cover the full range. And we felt uncomfortable with the fact that the younger ones were missing out. Even though the teachers were aware of strengths, those who were not old enough to do the StrengthsExplorer, were missing out. And so and I think you were the one who mentioned this idea of strengths-based parenting or strength spotters, where parents and all the teachers have young children, preschoolers or, or ones who are just in the early years of schooling, while they can be aware of strengths and book for what it might be that a young student is, is exhibiting, and how they can be in foster that and what might be driving them crazy about that young Charles, that's your strength. Let's look at that from a different perspective and how that can be fostered. So for that training that we did with, with our after our conference, we had stuff from right across our organization, from the preschools from the Dallas schools for the mainstream campuses as well come along, and not take that back to their own individual schools. And then they can run training for either the teachers of the younger students, or else have parent evenings and and train up the parents as well. So that these very precious children can now right from, right, from a young age, they're unique and they're valuable and they've got something that they can contribute as well.

Anne Lingafelter 36:26

And and I love too that it helps parents understand their own strengths too, so even though it's outside of the St. Philip's immediate community, that the education community will still be able to understand that language a little bit better if they haven't experienced it themselves. And how do you find the parents are reacting to all of the work that you guys are doing around strengths and the strengths-based parenting, you know, the idea of attending a workshop for an hour? Is that something you think you'll you'll have a great appetite for?

Graeme Evans 36:54

Yes, we've already had a parent workshop. And we offered to cover the cost of a access code for parents. And they do that prior to the workshop. And we looked at the philosophy of it, so that they have an understanding of, of what is happening with the children by exploring their own strengths. Also with the StrengthsExplorer, and when children have done that, while we've been contact the parents, either the teachers will we ask the children to email the parents and say, Look, I've done the StrengthsExplorer, here's the top three that I have. And we encourage them to have conversations at home. We had some senior students present at the parent workshop as well. We thought well, there's no better experts than the students. And they're able to explain their own strengths, how they saw that working in their lives. And that was a really powerful thing not just to have the staff doing all the talking -- teachers tend to do that, surprisingly.

Anne Lingafelter 37:56

No, absolutely. So um, let's move outside for a moment of of St. Philip's. Tell me a bit about you know, your strengths experience and journey outside of the school. Is it something that you use in other areas of your life? Is it something that you've talked to your wife and kids about, you know, is you bringing into hobbies or or other other work that you have outside of the school.

Graeme Evans 38:21

Yeah. It's my wife and two out of three children who have done the assessment. No surprise as one child was very much the Analytical, Deliberative, Strategic. He has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and is working on setting up a startup business. A daughter was very much the relationship side, and that was no surprises there. But my wife and I have a few in common as well, which is why we're a good match, I think. So I certainly in the family context, we can talk about that and get an understanding of how each other are wired. I have a sister who's possibly watching now or will watch the recorded version. And she tells me that I owe her a coaching session. So I really should arrange that with her at some stage. So some of the wider family are aware of this. And when we have family gatherings, we might be talking with one another and just sort of pointing at what's happening with with strengths there. But I've had the chance also to work with some local church leadership teams. They asked me to come along and just do some workshops with them so that they could get a better understanding of who they are and how they operate as a team. And what I love about working with any team, whether it's the church leadership, or or staff teams here at the school, is those light bulb moments, those Aha! moments, those moments that say, Now I know why you drove me crazy, or now I understand why I drive you crazy. Or now I get what you need. And why you find it frustrating when I do such and such. And it's those light bulb moments.

Graeme Evans 39:57

So I think strengths is certainly about understanding yourself more. But understanding and getting best value out of the people that you work with or live with and relate to. And one thing I would like to show is, something I found very useful is we had made some magnets Now, of course, the schools full of magnetic whiteboards. And we had a whole set of the various strengths, right across the different domains and different colors and so forth. And so it's wonderful to be able to work with these, put them on the board, have children talk about them, move them around, manipulate them. So very useful little resource. And I think part of of any unique context, whether it's a school or another organization, is creating your own context based resources. And I've put together a document that I called focus on strengths, which is only just a compilation of things that the Gallup have produced, and has a definition of each of the strengths, contributions, needs, likes, dislikes role mature, a quote that we found relevant to the strength of Bible verse relevant to the strength. And that's a really useful document. And often I have students or staff look through that, and and highlight the things that really resonate from that document. We put together for our students a study to your strengths. And that's based on some of the books that the Gallup have. But looking at the parts that were most useful to us, and giving looks like Jim's about to hold one up as he's going for something there. Nope. Obviously a marker pen.

Graeme Evans 41:43

And that was really useful and also created for the StrengthsExplorer students a document that is All for Me, or One for All. And that's, I guess, a compilation of what might be the raw or mature, the balconies and basements, so that when those younger children do that, they can have a think about have they using this strength just for themselves, or for the team. And when they form a new team to do an assignment in class, the first thing we ask them is talk about your Top 3 strengths from the StrengthsExplorer. Compare those, share those and what is the unique superpower of your team? So before you even begin to plan your project, or what you're going to do, get to know each other a little bit. So there's so much value in in that.

Anne Lingafelter 42:37

Yeah, excellent. I'm going to want to ask you to share some tips that you might have with coaches or schools who are just embarking on this journey. But before I do that, I'll ask Jim, if he's got any questions that have come in through the chat room or any questions that he himself has?

Jim Collison 42:53

No, not not so far. Meryl did say she is going to love having -- she's got a resource there in South Africa. So she's going to have them listen to this. So already immediate results, as we think about encouraging folks around the world. So not yet. I'll have some questions at the very end, though, Anne. And so go ahead and ask him what you ask him.

Anne Lingafelter 43:12

Yeah, absolutely. So I think, you know, you you've been great, Graeme, at taking, taking advantage of a lot of opportunities that are out there. And sometimes we we talked to some of our certified coaches, and they they're not as aware of things like the summit and things like even the culture event and and you've looked into things like Gallup student poll and some and sort of beyond the norm than the normal core things that a lot of folks talk about. And I think that that's one of the things that's made the St. Philip's program unique, because you've kind of taken it, you know, to a more holistic and a broader community there. What would you say are some of the things that you've that you've done that have led to this success -- some some sort of tips you would give to folks who maybe are behind you on this journey?

Graeme Evans 44:06

Believe in it, I think that's the first thing. With, with schools, and I can only talk from my context, but with schools, there can be so many programs and things that come your way, and try this, buy this, get involved with this. And it's easy to try something and then it just falls falls by the by. So I think there's going to be a real foundation of belief in what it's all about. And so if it costs a few dollars, or if it's a little bit inconvenient, or demands a bit of time out of the curriculum, then that belief is what drives it. If you're just dabbling in something, and you're not really sure about it, then then once it gets to that crunch, it's easy to say, look, we won't bother, we've got too much too many other priorities. So that'd be the first thing. And then I think you need to find those who are the earliest adopters who really resonates with, you don't need to convince them beyond just introducing it to them, and away they go. And let those early adopters be the key ones to run with it and drive to drive it. The school that I was at, at the time, the campus here in Newcastle, gave me a generous amount of time to work with that. And I think that that was a key to our success as well, that part of my role was to work with students and staff and parents with strengths. That was an expectation, it wasn't trying to squeeze something in. So I think belief, find the early adopters and give them some time to really explore it.

Anne Lingafelter 45:44

Well, and I like the the thought of giving them time also means give, give it some time, right, get give the program some time, because you can't just expect, you know, big culture change and sort of flip the switch and everything. You know, you know, it takes a while doesn't it, for this thing to sort of, yeah, soak in and for people to understand where to where to point it. So, yeah, that's excellent. Um, what else? You know, when I think about things that that I might might have missed, that you think is important to talk about? What would you -- what else would you add to our conversation?

Graeme Evans 46:21

I think, to contextualize it, that what we do won't be the same as somebody else. I think that's really important to see what best suits your own needs, and the needs of the community or the organization. So I think that's, that's a really key consideration. Hence, the resources that we've created here on campus. Because it suits us well. And something else that's really helped us has been part of a wider community and the Coaches Facebook page, share resources there and also use the resources that others have created. You can't do it on your own. So having communities that support are really important as well.

Anne Lingafelter 47:12

Yeah, agree. Agree. So what's next for you? Where are you headed now?

Graeme Evans 47:16

Yes, well, it's exciting. And we'll be looking at the Q12 for the second time shortly. So really keen to see how results have changed with that. Looking to see who else might be trained up as coaches, or at least brought into a deeper awareness of strengths so that we can continue to to have more staff across the organization. I'm looking forward to seeing how we can move ahead with the strengths-based parenting training as well. That was only a few months ago. So still put a move there. So lots of things for us to do still.

Anne Lingafelter 47:51

Yeah. Excellent. And congratulations on your new role on the foundation board as well. That'll be great to see where you go with that.

Graeme Evans 47:57

Yes, exciting.

Anne Lingafelter 47:59

Yep. Jim, anything from your side?

Jim Collison 48:01

Yeah. Anne, you had mentioned this strengths-based parenting course that we haven't really talked about very much. And I think there may be a lot of coaches listening right now who are like, Hey, wait a minute! So how -- if someone was interested in doing that, that, again, we haven't advertised that a lot and take some kind of special deals to get that done? If it -- how did you guys -- how do we go about doing that there, just so so coaches who might be thinking or organizations who are doing this who might be thinking about doing something like this? How would they engage with us to get that done?

Anne Lingafelter 48:30

Right? Well, in Australia, because we've run one here, and we have a facilitator who's able to do that now, we'll probably run a public course sometime, I'm not sure if it'll be this year or next year. But if you're interested in attending the one-day strengths-based parenting course in Australia, then just reach out to me, and I can let you know whether or not that's going to be a -- when that'll be on the calendar. Basically, the course is one day, and it teaches the participants to deliver two one-hour workshops to parents or other adults about strengths-spotting and understanding their own strengths as a parent. The idea being that teachers can have those, those workshops for parents in their community specifically. To, you know, and it can be used in early childhood education spaces -- anywhere where children are brought in -- and and it would be nice to be able to, you know, sort of triangulate the conversation about the child's strengths with the between the school and the parent, and have everyone sort of get on that same page, so that you're practicing a strengths-based approach both at home and at school. Or the, you know, let's say, Early Childhood Education Center, if that's the case. Would you add anything to that Graeme from, from your experience with the course?

Graeme Evans 49:56

No, I think you've covered that well. But I guess we became aware of it through conversation with you. And so I would just say to coaches out there, keep in touch with your Gallup representatives and see what's new on the market, or what might work in your context.

Jim Collison 50:16

And I'm not aware, I'm not, as of this recording here, September 10, I'm not aware of its global deployment. So whenever you're listening to this, you might want to email us:, and we can get someone in touch with you based on your own location.

Anne Lingafelter 50:32

Yeah, and I do think that it's only in English at this point. So some of you may be aware of the Strengths Based Parenting book that Mary Reckmeyer wrote and that was released several years ago. There are, there's a StrengthsExplorer code in the back of that, and also a strengths code for parents, that that book is also part of the materials for the course. But again, the idea is really, you know, as organizations think about being able to strengthen their company, and the impact that they have in the life of a child, certainly having those conversations around strengths with parents is really key to continuing that approach it at home. And, and it -- it helps them develop the relationship, doesn't it Graeme, between the the teachers and the and the school and the parents. So that's great. And and it doesn't have to be just a school environment; it can be an organizational approach as well. So if you're, if you're looking at your employee, not just as an employee but as the whole person, and want to help them be able to bring their family into the strengths conversation, then certainly that's again, something that might make sense to be able to, to talk to, you know, your employees about their, their parenting in their home life as well, from a strengths approach. So yeah, a lot of great things out there.

Jim Collison 51:50

We have also -- Maika and I have also created a series around StrengthsExplorer, so 12 webcasts, YouTube videos, podcasts, whatever you want to, however you want to consume them -- all 10 of the themes plus Mary on the back end and JerLene on the front end. And a great opportunity if StrengthsExplorer is new to you, in in just about 12 hours, you could work through our series as well, and at least get familiar with the themes, the theme names, what we're -- why we did it. We also have a great interview with Mary talking about the book. So another resource, again, for individuals thinking about doing this; organizations thinking about doing this, some things you can check out in advance. Anne, let's thank Graeme, as we we kind of wrap this up.

Anne Lingafelter 52:32

Yeah, absolutely. Graeme, thank you so much. It's been great to be partnering with St. Philip's and yourself over the last year or so. It was definitely a highlight for, you know, one of my best days at work, when I was able to -- we were able to get Al out here and attend your conference. And it's really impactful for us, as as Gallup folks to see the impact that the learning is having in environments like yours. So certainly appreciate your coming on board, not only for the TWC but for this as well, and look forward to seeing where things go from here.

Graeme Evans 53:04

Pleasure, pleasure. It's been wonderful to be part of this, and perfect timing. I don't know whether you can hear the school bell through the microphone. Just going as we speak -- that's the end of our school day. So thanks for the chance to be part of all of this.

Anne Lingafelter 53:17

Thank you, Graeme.

Jim Collison 53:17

Well with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we have available at the Gallup Strengths Center, although in just two weeks, that's all changing over to our Gallup Access platform. So if you go to or, either one of those. We'll be making those big changes -- who knows when you're going to be listening to this, so so those are available for you there as well. I mentioned if you have questions on any of this, you can send us an email: Don't forget, you can also catch the recorded version of this in both downloadable audio for offline listening; we call that podcasting. It's available for you. Head out to our coaches blog: That's changing as well. So we're going to A lot of links, actually available in the show notes for this for this episode as well, if you want to go out and get that done. And if you missed it, just rewind a little bit and write that down. If you're interested in any of our courses, we mentioned a bunch of them during this program. Head out to our courses page, really easy: And there's some contact information there if you have any questions on that. If you want to listen to these programs live, and why wouldn't you? We had a we had a handful or a couple handfuls of people out here tonight doing that as well, and we thank the live listeners, you can follow us on our event by Eventbrite page, just go to and follow us there as well. The Facebook groups were mentioned as well. The big one, which really leads to all the other ones, is at -- all one word. Just ask to be invited and I'll let you in, and you can get access to the resources there. I want to thank you for joining us tonight or this afternoon, wherever time zone that you are in today. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you next time. With that, we'll say, Goodbye everybody.

Graeme Evans' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Connectedness, Positivity, Developer, Harmony and Empathy.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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