Notes and stories of SF coaching in action
September 22, 2016 at 10:31 am #281
This Topic is the place to write notes, thoughts celebrations – stories of success and process in your SF coaching.
I’ll start with one of mine.
Yesterday I met the team from a growing charity called Talk the Talk. They provide one-day sessions for year 10 students to help prepare them for interviews, presentations etc. Richard, the chief exec. of the charity, contacted me because he’d noticed my presentations at the recent Teach First conference in Leeds, where I offered sessions on behaviour with the title ‘Behaviour? Relax – how you can do more by doing less’. Last year Richard’s trainers were offered a session on conventional behaviour management and he was wanting to build on it with something different. And Solutions Focused coaching was what caught his eye.
It was noticeable how challenging the ‘reward and punish’ approach encourages some people to speak up in its defence, even though I had talked about the need for basic rules and boundaries in school and that students needed to follow them. In our work it’s clear that it’s not ‘either or’, either punishment of the offenders or chaos, but much more about meeting students’ learning needs both to do with following essential rules and making the most of themselves as people. The idea that what works for straightforward rules and their observance, the referee and the whistle, is good enough to ensure the inclusion of students with much more complex difficulties needs to be challenged in the interest of student success in school.
My best hope for this session was to sow some seeds of inquiry, about the justification for using a ‘one size fits all’ approach and raising they possibility that the structured student-centred approach of SF coaching could have a role to play. After the session, in a few conversations, it seemed to me that I’d met my own best hope.
Geoff 22 Sept 16September 27, 2016 at 7:29 am #287
I’ve been practising the SFC approach since the new autumn term started. I have been impressed by its simplicity and how quickly, easily and comfortably the children engage with and respond to it. In particular I have found the scaling element hugely beneficial – as I am based in a school I see the children daily affording me an opportunity to remind them/ask them “how are you doing on your scale for XXX today?” but, more importantly, they are approaching me and telling me, unprompted, “I have moved from a X to a X already today” – and this, for me, is the crux of the success of SFC – ownership, accountability and responsibility is firmly placed in the child’s hands which means the support is fully inclusive and cooperative, rather than most behaviour management (for want of a better phrase) models which are done TO the pupil rather than WITH. This is a hugely encouraging distinction to make and is also helping some staff resistant to change/progress understand the importance and impact of SFC. We must be child-centered practitioners and also child-led. Using SFC I have uncovered some barriers to learning (e.g. classroom too noisy, too busy etc) and this has informed intervention and support for those specific children. I firmly believe that a one-size fits all, off-the-peg approach to supporting behaviour does not work in the modern world any more and it takes a brave school to look at a process of change culturally that is in the best interests of the children.
That’s a long paragraph – sorry to have rambled…
In short – I can’t wait for SFC to be embedded into the culture of the school I work at, that the language used is used across the whole-school from reception to Year 6.October 3, 2016 at 6:25 pm #289
I am still really enjoying the solutions-focused approach, although it can be a bit like a rollercoaster! As I am in school everyday, I see most things that go on. The children I am working with don’t seem to have had quite the miracle turnaround that Geoff’s cases have had! With one boy, he does come out of angry outbursts quicker by the use of the scale and by asking what has gone well. With another boy, I had my most satisfying day on Friday – when we came to scaling he said he was at a 10 as he hadnt had any fights all week. (this was the boy who said he would never be able to keep it up!) When we did compliments, his compliment to himself was that he was happy. That was an amazing statement, as he tends to be a very unhappy boy. Then today came, and he was very challenging in class. But by using the scaling and the positive thoughts, he turned things around and was really well behaved. He has identified himself in our 1-1 sessions that he struggles with literacy, and it maybe that we make that another project. But the thing that is constantly proving difficult for these children is what happens at home; they come from split families, where there are acrimonious splits, and this has a huge impact on the frame of mind they come to school in. There are times when I feel I am constantly popping into class to ask what has gone well to just boost them. So yes, I love solution-focused working, and totally believe in it – it does no harm and certainly does good. I just wish that those family situations would stop dampening the children’s positivity and affecting their self esteem. At least I have a tool now to try to help them bring hope for a better future.October 19, 2016 at 8:24 pm #290
I’ve been using SFC since the start of term along with our inclusion team. I continue to really enjoy the sessions and am seeing results. Like Chris, the key element for me is the scaling. We’re using the initial session to inform a PSP built round the child’s project. This is helping us get the child’s strategies out to all necessary staff. We have changed our PSP approach too so it is written from the couce of the child rather than from one professional to another. This is helping with ownership and accountability too.
I have done most sessions without parents. I don’t know if this is because as we work with secondary students they are less keen to have parents there. I have shared projects with parents though and found that most have been – as ever – supportive.
I find it interesting too how many times I have found myself using the course buzz words in practice: reasonable adjustments and asking ‘is that meeting the needs of the child or of the adult?’ are fast becoming my new catchphrases!
I was working with one of my students today. I met him in a corridor as he’d walked out of class. He was agitated and banging a large metal key ring against his teeth. I wanted him to stop because I didn’t like it (and was worried he’d harm himself). I knew that asking him to stop was more about me than him though and wouldn’t be a good ‘way in’. Instead I used scaling. Once engaged I asked if he was coming to our inclusion area. He happily followed. He was still banging the key ring. Once in the room I asked if he would like to draw (calming activity for him). He put the key ring down and helped me get his folder. He then set to his task but remained on his feet. I really wanted to ask him to sit down. But I thought ‘whose need?’ and realised it was mine. I let him work standing. Once he’d done his picture, I asked if he wanted to discuss what was going well and we were into a session. He stood throughout. When I asked why he was a 6 in inclusion – doing his normal class work – but a 3 in his class, his answer ‘I can stand here. I am happier standing’. Who’d have thought? And is there any reason he shouldn’t be allowed to stand in class so long as he’s working? I’d say that is a reasonable adjustment. He’s happily returning to class tomorrow. He’ll be allowed a desk at the rear of the room. He can stand or sit as desired. I would never have thought of this as a strategy if I was coming up with the ‘solutions’ like we used to.
I know the approach has altered my classroom practice too. Just wish all our staff had access to the training.October 27, 2016 at 4:33 pm #291
I think being allowed to stand is definitely a reasonable adjustment and, I agree, one that you’d have never have come up with outside a s-f coaching approach! Regarding your last point, Geoff is doing some whole school training at Chris’s school on Monday. Might be something to think about for LCHS at some stage. I think it’s good for staff wellbeing, as well as for students.October 27, 2016 at 4:36 pm #292
Maybe not miracle turn arounds but important strides forward! So impressed that a pupil has asked to use the pproach to improve his literacy skills. Growth mindset for you! (Comment on Sue’s post! Still finding way around this forum!)
October 27, 2016 at 4:40 pm #294
- This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by mary meredith.
Looking forward to visiting you on Monday Chris. I understand the goal is a solution focused approach for all. I’ll be fascinated to watch your progress.November 3, 2016 at 11:51 am #298
Just popping in. I love your ‘standing’ story Claire. Your self-discipline in going with his choice rather than advising him to sit down is impressive. It takes some energy at first doesn’t it? I just spoke to the headteacher at St. Lawrence C of E Primary school – we had a one day session there on Monday to introduce the idea to the whole staff, with one member of staff having completed the two-day SFc course. She says there’s a buzz in the school, people are taking the idea on and running with it! I’m looking forward to the next two-day sessions in a couple of weeks. Thanks to all who’ve written on the Forum.December 8, 2016 at 10:23 pm #324
I have been working with 3 children (B, J and C) since September doing SF work. They have made great strides, although there are still a few blips now and then. Yesterday, a mid-day supervisor came to see me, somewhat exasperated. B, J and C had sat near each other at lunch. B had taken J’s chocolate bar, J had stabbed B’s cake with a pencil, and so C had thrown the chocolate bar. The mid-day had spoken to them sharply so J had called her fat. I sighed. She brought the three of them to see me. I talked to them about the fact that all three of them were doing the SF work. They should understand each other’s needs better than anyone else. Wouldnt it be better if they helped each other to make things better, to go up their scales? They looked somewhat thoughtful. They went back into the hall and apologised and were calm for the remainder of the day. This was something that had bothered me fpr some time. When they did have blips, it seemed to be one of them that wound the other up. So today I did something a bit different, possibly not SF as it is intended….I did a SF session with all 3 children together. They all thought of what had gone well, plus they thought of things for each other that they had spotted. They scaled each other and said why they were at that number, and they were very positive about each other. They smiled throughout the session. We talked about how they could help each other. And then we got to compliments. Normally in the 1-1 sessions they seemed to struggle a bit, but today I couldnt shut them up as they complimented each other. There were 2 particularly poignant compliments: J to C “You talked a lot, I don’t normally hear you talk like that”. and C to J: “You smiled and laughed. I have never seen you smile or laugh in the classrom.” B said at the end “Can we do this again, I really like this”. So I think we might, because it seems to be a solution to helping them in their journey towards their best hopes; that working together they might be stronger, certainly more so than when they have been working against each other.
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