Dr Lea Waters

Psychologist, Academic & Researcher

Strength-Based Teaching: Bringing Out the Best in Students and Teachers:

Every teacher wants to bring out the best in their students, yet our broader education systems are typically deficit-oriented and focus more on correcting weakness and poor performance than on building strength. What’s more, in the day to day rush of schools and with pressures to get through curriculum, strengths can get left behind. Yet, three decades of research clearly shows the advantages of taking a strength-based approach for students, including greater levels of happiness at school, higher student engagement, smoother transitions from kindergarten to elementary school, more successful adjustment from elementary to middle school, and higher levels of academic achievement. Research also shows benefits for teachers who learn how to identify and utilize their own strengths. Great teachers understand that a weakness, if not interfering with their teaching, is not worth wasting their time to improve – instead this time is best spent amplifying their natural talents to become the best teacher possible. Having helped schools to implement strengths in Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Hong Kong and China, Lea Waters PhD weaves together her science with concrete examples and best practices to provide the audience with the compelling case for adopting a strengths approach in schools.


Professor Lea Waters (PhD) has been a psychology researcher at the University of Melbourne for 23 years. She has published over 100 scientific journal articles and book chapters. She is the best-selling author of The Strength Switch, which has been published in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada. She is the president of the International Positive Psychology Association, and the founding director of the Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Melbourne. Lea contributes regularly to the media in Australia, USA, Canada, Asia and the UK on the topics of positive psychology, positive education and parenting. She was listed in the Financial Times and Westpac Bank 100 Women of Influence in 2015.