Applying solution focus coaching tools to a shared problem…

When I was 12, there was a gang leader in my class. She was clever, pretty and powerful and if you weren’t in her group, you were no-one. Her followers were highly trained in the art of excluding others and making them feel worthless.

Not much has changed in the world of school, but bullying has been amplified by social media. I can only imagine what life for us nobodies would have been like, if  the powerful leader and her gang had been able to post photos of us on Snapchat and multiply the nastiness via a Whatsapp group from which we were excluded. 

It’s only too easy to lament the tragedy of it all, blame the children, their parents, ourselves and especially technology. Instead we need to:

Commit to the change we want to see.

Are we prepared to take action? What’s a good name for the project? – Platform

Articulate the desired outcome in detail.

Imagine the culture we’d like to cultivate. What will it look like? What will be noticeable?  What will others see? – Future Perfect

Reflect on where we are now.

What would take us up a notch or two? What would the first tiny signs of progress be?  – Scale

Notice what is already happening.

Gather data from kids, teachers and parents. What’s going well? What successes have there been? How were they achieved? – Counters

Decide what action to take.

What small steps will we take? What specific and concrete steps will propel us forward? – Small Actions

We might name our project ‘ Increasing a culture of kindness’. Do you have ideas to share? What’s working at your school?

Thanks @annettegci. You can see the immediate impact of your Solution Focus Master Class extending beyond coaching…

Solution focus tools – Mark McKergrow

Write or wrong…

Are you on the platform? What are you waiting for? Are you ready and willing to buy a ticket to the destination of your choice? How serious are you about getting there?

I really like the ‘platform’ analogy we talked about in today’s Solution Focus coaching master class and it makes me realise that I’ll never get back on the blogging train, unless I buy a ticket and get off the platform!

In the past, writing was a vehicle for reflection. Blogging was an avenue for distilling the essence of  learning experiences, documenting the process of learning, testing ideas and theories, questioning, probing, provoking , identifying issues, exploring possibilities and sometimes getting on people’s nerves.

I often encourage others to blog, highlighting the value of sharing your practice and amplifying your learning. I stress that perfectionism holds you back. ‘Just write what you want to say in your own voice, without over-thinking and click ‘publish’, I tell them. ‘Write for yourself, not for an audience.’

Yet here I am, pacing the platform, mulling over the reasons for not buying a ticket and getting back on the blogging train.

Is it because writing is a habit and I’ve lost the flow? Is awareness of my increased audience inhibiting me, because I can no longer simply write for myself, in my own voice and click ‘publish’, without caring what anyone thinks? Have I been muzzled by the knowledge that saying what I think sometimes gets me into trouble, because people identify themselves in the issues raised?  Or is it simply that I’ve said what I need to say and it’s time to put down my ‘pen’ ?

In the spirit of today’s master class, I’ll let go of the reasons for the problem and focus on positive change instead. One of the coaching strategies we practised was identifying the issue of concern and giving it a name. I’m calling mine ‘Write or wrong’… I’m buying a ticket and moving off the platform back onto the blogging train to see what happens.

It will either be wrong for me… or write.

10 questions for teacher reflection…

We’re not even half way through the school year here, but a request from someone important to me on the other side of the world provokes my thinking…

‘ Have you ever written a blog post on strategies, tools or frameworks that a teacher can use to reflect on their past year of teaching?’

My immediate response: ‘ Reflection has to happen all the way along. It’s too late at the end of the year.’

But here are some questions to ask yourself, as you look back, look within and look forward…

1. What were the most powerful learning experiences in your class this year? Can you describe what made them successful?

2. How do you learn best? What hinders your learning? How can this knowledge help you with future teaching and learning?

3. What do you believe about how learning occurs? What are the conditions for powerful learning? Does your practice align with your beliefs?

4. Who controls the learning in your classes? Do you seek compliance or do you foster student ownership? How will you encourage learner agency?

5. What are you proud of in your teaching or learning and what do you wish you could do better? How might you go about it? Who might support you?

6. What do you wish you could change in your teaching, your learning, your classroom, your school? What small steps could you take towards making it happen?

7. What are your strengths? How might you develop them further? How might you use them to support others in their teaching and learning?

8. What can you learn from your students? What works for them? Have you asked them? What might you change as a result?

9. What excites you? What excites your students? How might you make that part of your teaching and learning?

10. What do you dream of doing? How might you work towards that dream? Who might you share it with? What kind of support do you need?

How do you listen?

Are you a good listener?

 

Do you nod and say ‘aha’ while thinking about something else? Do you make connections to your own life and hijack the conversation? Or do you really listen? Do you wait, ask clarifying questions, show genuine interest and thoughtfully consider your responses?

We explore these options as part of the GCI  Coaching Accreditation Course and I wonder briefly whether the presenters and participants think I’m not really listening, since my laptop is open and at any given time they might see Twitter, Google, Amazon or Youtube on my screen. Almost everyone else is taking notes with pen and paper.

I check with the world, and I appreciate the clarifying response from @CmunroOz:

Having just spent a week learning with @langwitches, I’m even more aware of the value of documentation, not just OF learning, but FOR learning.

I’m recording the learning, for myself, for others at my school… and for a global community of educators with and from whom I constantly learn. The documentation of today’s learning via my Twitter stream will be read by people whom I know in person, people I connect with online… and people I don’t know exist. (I might never know what they learned from my sharing!)

As the presenters speak, I distil the essence, documenting the big ideas via tweets. If a book is mentioned, I find the link and add that to the stream. As we go along, I Google the big names mentioned, make connections, share the video clips and add my own thoughts. If others in the room were doing the same, we’d be sharing the responsibility of documenting collaboratively.

At the end of the workshop, all the tweets, thoughts and links are collated into a Storify to which I (and you!) can refer later. It’s documentation OF and FOR learning – my own, that of my colleagues… and whom ever out there in the world is listening.

How do you listen?