Staff Meeting Activities to Reinforce Asset Building


If your organization, whether a school or youth-serving organization, is striving to implement the Developmental Asset® framework, you’ll want to consider ways to sustain the focus on integrating these principles into daily practice. A great way to do that is to infuse your staff/faculty meetings with simple strategies. Try these.

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  • Staff Development
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Staff Meeting Activities to Reinforce Asset Building

If your organization, whether a school or youth-serving organization, is striving to implement the Developmental Asset® framework, you’ll want to consider ways to sustain the focus on integrating these principles into daily practice. A great way to do that is to infuse your staff/faculty meetings with simple strategies that keep the language of assets front and center, acknowledge the efforts being made to enhance practice, and celebrate progress. Toward that end, we offer you the following ideas.

Here are fast and simple activities that can be woven into staff meetings to continuously reinforce asset-building efforts throughout your building.

  1. Announce at a staff meeting that for the following week, you want staff to be looking for any adults acting on one of the 8 asset categories. While individuals will be doing the observing, you can have them work in teams of two or three at the next staff meeting to pool their ideas. Winning team (longest list) can be awarded a prize of your choosing. Some have used food or food coupons, one group created an “Asset Builder of the Week” coffee mug which was rotated amongst staff.

Part of the idea of pooling their results at each staff meeting is to get them talking with each other about what they have observed and identified as asset building.

Each week, assign a new asset category. At the end of the series, ask which category was easiest to see examples of and which category was most difficult. What could they do as a staff to increase their asset building efforts in the category that was most difficult? Celebrate their efforts and identify the category they feel most confident in building.   

* Post the asset category icon and/or name in several high traffic spots to help staff remember the category for the week.

A note:

Expect that with some of the observations staff may go through phases – first, nothing looks like asset building (or it is hard for them to spot.) Then everything (every conversation with a young person, every smile, every contact) looks like asset building. Then staff start discussing, “was that or was that not a good example of asset building?” That level of discernment doesn’t come right away, but when you start hearing staff identify why something was or was not asset building, then you know they are well on their way.

  1. Select several categories or specific assets. Ask staff to observe and identify over the coming week any examples of young people building those assets in themselves or their peers. For example, they might include times when students help reinforce classroom rules (Boundaries and Expectations) or they might notice a student giving them an honest response, even when it might be easier to bend the truth a little  (Asset #29) or following through on the planning and decision-making required of a particular project (Asset #32) and so on. It is important that staff learn to identify actions that students make to build various assets, reinforcing that youth, themselves can be powerful asset builders.
  1. Use staff content expertise as prompts for discussions of asset building. (Quick conversations in groups of three) Additional benefits: This gets them using other parts of their brain as they draw analogies and think about how one set of concepts informs another in their work.
  • For example: pick a main character in a required piece of literature. How would their story have changed if they had more assets or had more asset builders in their life? OR pick a piece of literature and identify someone who was an asset builder for another character.
  • Think about a team sport. How does intentional asset building contribute to a better experience for both staff and youth  players? What life lessons can be learned by incorporating an asset-building approach?
  • Have staff take their own area of expertise and identify how it can be connected to asset-building.
  1. Using Play-Doh or multiple colors of pipe cleaners or Legos, work in teams of two of three to build a representation of an asset-rich student. Describe your creation to the rest of the staff, and how you decided on key elements.
  1. Sometimes students give us a surface behavior that gives us a clue to “what lies beneath.” Have you experienced a recent example of some surface behavior by a student where you paused to think about this before you responded? How did you feel about the interaction? In retrospect, how might you have edited your response?
  1. If you could have used “Stop Action” photography or played a scene over this week, what one moment would you pick, why, and what would you do differently? If you want to use this another time, you can ask staff to work in teams of two and script what they did, and what they would do, and act it out in a “Take” and a “Second Take” Set a 3 minute time limit for the skits and have staff act them out.
  1. Skits or charades– Have teams of two or three plan, script and act out one of the Developmental Assets. Bonus points if the rest of the group can identify the asset they are acting out. Set a short time limit for the acting out. (A variation would be to have them script a non-asset building moment, act it out and invite any other team to come up and re-enact the situation in a more asset-rich way.)


These activities try to address the different learning styles people have. For some, acting things out will be more instructive that simply hearing about the assets. For others, the tactile activities will help them make new connections. Spotting asset building by colleagues (and being reinforced for doing so) is another way to help build a sense of camaraderie and encourage them to see each other as resources.

While we have suggested activities happen in small teams, you can decide whether occasionally you want those teams to be assigned or whether you wish to mix up the groupings. This can help staff get to know other staff they might not normally spend much time with.

About the Author: Nancy Tellett-Royce is a Senior Consultant with Bolster Collaborative and brings extensive community mobilization experience to our team. She has authored or co-authored numerous publications including Strong Staff, Strong Students: Professional Development in Schools and Youth Programs, with Angela Jerabek. (Search Institute Press, 2010.)



Search Institute and Developmental Assets are registered trademarks of Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN. No endorsement is implied.


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