Skip to content
Share your Impact Story

Finding Hidden Strengths & Passion!

Finding Hidden Strengths & Passion!

To use the word “hidden” may not be quite accurate because often, strengths are hidden by lack of opportunity to display them. Too often, when students are in school, they are not looked at in terms of their strengths; rather, there is a focus on remediating their deficits. This is rarely a source of inspiration for anyone. What ends up happening is that kids’ strengths and passions are either hidden from their educators or worse, they become hidden from themselves because they do not get encouraged.

So what can educators do? First, have all your students tell you about their hobbies or other things they really like to do or are very good at. You can do that in a homeroom or advisory, or you can work it into a language arts or other assignment. Typically, their classmates also are unaware of their assets.

Thrively helps educators to better know their student’s Strengths. For the kids who have no idea about their strengths and also to discover hidden strengths of all the other kids, have them take the Thrively Strength Assessment. There is benefit to having everyone go around and share their undiscovered strengths with classmates.

Second, ask students to talk about times when they found out something surprising and good about someone else. Ideally, this would make a wonderful topic for an essay or short story or even an art-related assignment. From these examples, help students reflect on things about themselves that classmates or teachers might find surprising and impressive.

Third, have students talk to their parents or guardians about their “hidden talents”. Help them develop a short story to find out about hobbies or aspirations that they may have pursued at one time and then had to give up.

More About Thrively

Thrively helps educators to better know their students, attend to their well-being, instill hope, and teach essential life skills. At Thrively, we believe that Every child has a genius and deserves to thrive.

Ways to encourage positive mental health habits and practices to boost Student Well-Being

It can be very difficult for young people to navigate their way through the world. They need to learn how to deal with big feelings and new emotions, all while trying to make friends, experience new learning environments and manage their self image as their bodies and hormones change at a rapid rate. While many students are generally happy and feel secure within themselves, there is a growing number of students experiencing poor mental health.

Children who experience poor mental health are more likely to act out in the classroom, especially if they haven’t been taught how to regulate their emotions. It can also lead to poor learning outcomes. Students who have low mental health are more likely to have more absences at school, including some who become school refusers entirely.

Ways to to support positive mental health in your classroom
1. Incorporate Mindfulness

Incorporating mindfulness as a daily exercise in the classroom can be a fantastic way to improve mental health in your students. Some mindful activities include meditation, journaling and practicing gratitude.

For meditation you can easily find short 10-minute YouTube videos that will take your students through some breathing activities. Or, you can run it yourself. Simply play gentle, instrumental music, ask your students to sit or lay down on the floor, and instruct them to relax their bodies. Finally instruct their breathing. Tell them to take a deep breath in for 5 seconds, hold that breath for 3 seconds, and release it for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

For journaling, give your students some prompts and allow 5 minutes of quiet writing. Some journaling prompts may include: taking your students outside and asking them to use their different senses to write what they see, hear and smell in the environment; asking them to recall a time when they felt happy/angry/sad/excited and to write how their minds and bodies reacted to that emotion; asking your students to note down how they would like to be treated by others and then list how to manage the situation if their peers do not treat them right.

Gratitude should be shared with others and it could simply be writing a note to someone in their lives explaining why they appreciate that special person. It could also be asking your class to write a positive sentence about another class member or two, and giving the note to that peer. If you do the second activity, ensure you sort out the class so that every student receives the same number of positive compliments.

2. Teach what mental health is

Students are often not aware that we all have mental health. So they may not have the language to describe their feelings, or the awareness to identify when they’re feeling great, terrible or something in between.

That’s why it’s so important to teach your class about mental health is. Explain that much like we all have physical health, we also have mental health.

This can be a series of ongoing lessons in addressing students’ needs. The lessons may include:

  • What is mental health? How can we look after it?
  • What habits can we start to use on a daily basis that may make us more resilient?
  • Where do you feel big and uncomfortable emotions in your body?
  • Where do you feel positive emotions in your body?
  • Why do you think knowing about our character strengths can help us to flourish?
3. Create a calm environment 

If keeping the environment calm is important in the household, it is just as important in the classroom. Aim to keep your classroom as clutter free as possible, with little distractions. Yes, decorations and educational posters are beautiful for the classroom environment, however, try to keep them neutral in color or in a similar color palette. Too many conflicting colors and too much clutter may make the space overwhelming for some students.

Another benefit of reducing classroom clutter, is that it is easier to clean and less mess ends up on the floor.

4. Build connections between students

Most likely, ‘getting to know you’ activities are reserved for only the first day of the year. Students have insignificant time to get to know their peers as a person before going straight into curriculum and work. When students don’t know each other well, they often form groups with a few others and don’t support others. 

Rather than reserving these activities for only the first day, keep doing them throughout the year. You could spend 5 minutes a week playing a game that allows them to really get to know each other. Keep supporting your students in connecting with their peers. It is very common for students to be in the same class for years and not know that they actually have lots of shared interest. When students find a common ground, they understand more about each other and are less likely to bully each other.

Here is a list of ice breaker activities you can try in your classroom today.

If you use these tips, you will likely find more communication from your students and you may be able to act more efficiently when you see issues with mental health. These tips are great for individual classrooms, but a whole school well-being culture is even better so students will have consistency in their wellbeing support throughout their whole school experience. 

That’s where a whole-child approach like Thrively can help.

More About Thrively

Thrively helps educators to better know their students, attend to their well-being, instill hope, and teach essential life skills. At Thrively, we believe that Every child has a genius and deserves to thrive.

What Are The 16 Habits Of Mind?

Young asian girl wearing a green coat with hood catches a bubble in her hands with her arms stretched out in front of her. The background is a park with green grass and green trees.

What Are The 16 Habits Of Mind?

By Paul Haluszczak

The Habits of Mind describe 16 mental disciplines that are needed to navigate the question: “What is the most intelligent thing I can do right now?” Developed by Dr. Bena Kallick and Dr. Art Costa through decades of curated research and real-world application, the Habits of Mind serve as a starting point to more deeply understand the habits we need to handle the complexity of the world around us.


Being a beginner at anything is always a challenge. Everything is new and every question takes a significant amount of time to answer. If a particular skill is involved, it can create immediate feelings of inadequacy.

Learners who have a strong habit of persisting stick to the tasks before them until they have reached an acceptable level of completeness. Giving up is a last resort. If the first attempt fails, they go back to the drawing board and create the next game plan.

Managing Impulsivity

We live in a world full of shiny objects. Everywhere we look, from our screens to retail shelves to billboards adorning our highways, calls for our attention are constant. If we don’t feel like being intentional with our choices, the world is often ready to make those choices for us.

Learners who are able to build this habit of managing impulsivity are able to remain attentive to the challenge or opportunity they chose to engage with. When new choices arise, they are able to take a step back, weight their options, and make a confident decision.

Listening With Understanding and Empathy

The capacity to understand and meaningfully connect with others almost seems like it would be a prerequisite to consider oneself an active, contributing member of society. 55% of our interactions are spent listening to the person or people we’re in conversation with. Yet, at what age were you taught how to understand and empathize with others?

Developing this habit results in a natural way of thinking that considers how potential solutions will impact primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences. It empowers learners who carry this habit to connect deeply, build trust, and express positive leadership abilities.

Thinking Flexibly

Our brains our remarkable. The neurons that fired off when you smelt coffee this morning will be a completely different group of neurons one month from now (a concept known as representational drift). Although this group of neurons is always changing, the smell of coffee remains the same. Our minds are naturally flexible.

To strengthen this natural behavior, learners should be encouraged to assess and reassess the information available to them throughout a problem solving process. As circumstances change, they must build the habit of taking in new information and applying it appropriately.

Thinking About Your Thinking

Metacognition is a wonder of evolution. The ability to think about our own thinking gives us the confidence to step into the unknown, build the plane while it’s flying, take action before the whole picture is clear.

Strengthening metacognition occurs within learning opportunities that demand strategy, action, and reflection. The opportunity to think through different possibilities, test them out, reflect, and test again, is the universal path toward progress.

Striving for Accuracy and Precision

The standardized education system has often prioritized efficiency over all else. The learner who finishes their test first is seen as smart, the speed reader gets the most stars on the reading tracker, and the learner who picks up on things quickly is labeled “gifted.”

The world has shown many examples where the need for speed has resulted in catastrophic results—from oil spills (e.g. sloppy safety checks) to financial collapses (e.g. trying to accelerate wealth). Learners who are supported in striving for accuracy and precision over how fast something is completed, develop pride in and commitment to their work.

Questioning and Posing Problems

Theoretical physicist, Richard Feynam, spent his days interacting with the world with his 12 favorite problems top of mind at all times. With everything he consumed, he looked for ways to connect this new information to those 12 problems.

Feynam’s practice led to an exceptional ability to ask questions and pose problems nobody had ever thought of before. This habit made him an expert learner and teacher alike. The ability to ask meaningful questions and pose important problems is a habit worth strengthening.

Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations

When a challenge arises, we have the opportunity to explore in what ways we’ve experienced a challenge like this before. By reaching into our past, we can pull forward the relevant knowledge and skills that can be applied to this new situation.

To practice developing this habit, we simply must ask what’s familiar and what’s unfamiliar with the current situation. Then, we can take the unfamiliar and begin utilizing the habit to ask meaningful questions and pose the problems that need to be solved.

Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision

If “location, location, location” is the guiding principle in real estate, “communication, communication, communication,” might take the cake in the 21st-century workplace. Being able to think and communicate that thinking with clarity and precision is consistently at the top of hiring managers’ wish list in prospective candidates.

Thinking and communicating can happen through multiple media—through writing, video, and audio for starters. To provide opportunities for learners to become comfortable and confident with their thinking and communicating that thinking will reap immeasurable rewards today and far into the future.

Gathering Data Through All Senses

Did you know that scientists often suggest we have nine (not five) sense? Beyond the usual line-up of sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch, our internal senses look for hunger, thirst, pain, and balance.

Our brains are gathering data from all of these senses all the time, but to become aware of that data and to use it appropriately requires conscious habit development. To be consciously aware of each of these senses opens up a world of possibility.

Creating, Imagining, and Innovating

Humans have been around for thousands of years yet scores of new inventions and discoveries pop-up every day. The world truly is what we make it. Activating our creative muscles is one of the most fruitful workouts we can provide our minds.

The most important hurdle to jump over when it comes to creative expression is the fear of judgement. We must create a safe and trusting space for learners to create freely, applying improv’s “yes, and” principle in every moment.

Responding with Wonderment and Awe

Have you ever come across an adult with a child-like spirit where they experience the world with an inexhaustible sense of wonder and awe? Do you find yourself naturally attracted to this trait, sensing your own inner child waking up to play?

Creating a disposition of wonder and awe invites us to be endlessly curious about the world around us. To look at something as simple as a light turn on and ask “how does that work?” can lead to the discovery of Thomas Edison, photons and electrons, light waves, and so much more. To cultivate this habit in learners, encourage them to see rabbit holes and opportunities rather than distractions.

Taking Responsible Risks

Adventure doesn’t have to equate to carelessness. We can go on unexpected journeys while weighing the pros and cons of each decision along the way—understanding the difference between discomfort and danger.

Learning how to take responsible risks gives learners the courage to explore beyond their comfort zones and enter the Zone of Proximal Development where new learning thrives. Everyone has a different level of risk aversion, so we must meet them where they are and build their confidence over time.

Finding Humor

The gray line between humor and harm can be a thick one, but for young people who are navigating the social norms of society, it’s incredibly important for them to define this line as best as possible.

People who are able to find humor are known to be creative problem solvers, find novelty in the most ordinary things, improve their health and well-being, and attract good relationships. When we can bring humor into our environments along with an invitation to explore why something is humorous, we can cultivate a great habit for young people.

Thinking Interdependently

There’s no “I” in team is a cliché with scientific backing. The ability to collaborate with others and use multiple perspectives when approaching a problem increases the odds of coming up with solutions that are helpful and help more people.

Thinking interdependently is a habit that takes time and doesn’t have to solely involve synchronous, spoken communication. Shy and social learners alike can engage in developing this habit while maintaining a sense of safety by utilizing multiple media for communication.

Remaining Open to Continuous Learning

Learning is a natural phenomenon. If you’re alive and breathing, you’re learning. Therefore, the question isn’t “are you learning?” Rather, it’s “do you enjoy learning?” To build a habit where learners are open to continuous learning, they need an environment where learning is connected with joy and fulfillment.

The 16 Habits of Mind, although extensive, only touch the surface of the overlapping habits that, when intentionally integrated into learning experiences, can unleash the genius in every child.

To learn more about the Habits of Mind, join our live webinar this Thursday with Dr. Bena Kallick and Dr. Art Costa—co-founders of the Institute for Habits of Mind. For a complete summary of each habit, head over to the Institute for Habits of Mind’s website.

1 2 7