Solution Focused Practice is a change-focused approach to enabling people of all ages to make progress in their lives by emphasising what is wanted in the future, amplifying successes and highlighting the capacities and skills available to support progress.
Grounded in the reality of the day-to-day challenges of school life, Solution Focused Practice in Schools: 80 Ideas and Strategies offers dynamic, practical, down-to-earth and jargon-free applications of the Solution Focused (SF) approach that can create energy and movement in even the toughest of situations.
From working with individuals to considering organisational developments, this book explores the SF approach using numerous examples and sample questions that can be adapted for any situation and whether the time available is long or short.
The reader will gain ideas about how to:
- move beyond ‘don’t know’ responses in individual discussions with students to create dialogues where difference and change can occur
- invite classes into constructive conversations about building the classroom environment that brings out the best in students, whether there has been a concern or not
- address key issues such as confidence, motivation, resilience and dealing with set-backs
- build detail around potential and effective futures in coaching, consultations and meetings
- support the development of policies and procedures at an organisational level
- support solution-based conversations using play, role play, video and other creative techniques.
This book is an excellent resource for managers, teachers, SENCOs, mentors, counsellors, coaches, psychologists, social workers and all those who work in a supportive capacity in schools to promote the learning and well-being of both students and staff.
Table of Contents
Foreword; About the Authors; Preface; Acknowledgments; Part 1: Introduction to Solution Focused Practice; 1. What is Solution Focused Practice (SFP)?; 2. A brief background; 3. Summary of practice; 4. Fundamental SF skills; 5. Solution building is not the same as problem solving; 6. Key SF questions; 7. Scales: denoting the progress already made; 8. Dealing with ‘don’t know’; 9. Adapting SFP to work in schools; 10. Summary of SFP in schools; 11. Research and literature on SFP; 12. How to get going … and how to keep going; Part 2: How will we know we are at our best? Conversations with whole classes; 13. Introduction: involving students; 14. Inviting students to step into their ‘best version’; 15. Being specific makes actions more accessible and possible; 16. The perspectives of others; 17. How do you keep students thinking and looking?; 18. Using scales; 19. How do we record these discussions?; 20. Five minute versions; 21. Talking with a whole class when there has been a difficulty; 22. Variations of scales in the classroom; 23. Creating opportunities for appreciation in the classroom; Part 3: Individual work; 24. Introduction: principles; 25. Getting started: building a common direction; 26. Building virtual pathways to success; 27. Resource-based discussions; 28. Using scales; 29. Creative scales; 30. Other ways of moving a conversation in a constructive direction; 31. When there has been a set-back; 32. Confidence; 33. Motivation; 34. Anxiety; 35. Giving advice; 36. The enquiring mind: facilitating peer conversations; 37. Differing 5 minute conversation frameworks around a specific issue; Part 4: Coaching, consultations and meetings; Coaching conversations with staff; 38. Key considerations; 39. Focusing on what is wanted; 40. Amplifying current successes and future opportunities; 41. A 5 minute coaching conversation; 42. How do coaches get better at coaching?; Consultations with groups of staff; 43. Using scales to support consultations over time; 44. Locating what is working and making it stronger; Meetings with parents and other professionals; 45. Basic meeting structure; 46. Establishing the Best Hopes from the meeting; 47. Finding a starting point through parental aspirations; 48. What if the student is not at the meeting?; 49. Clarifying priorities: multiple scaling; 50. When things are tough; 51. Pupil progress meetings and beyond; Meetings around organisational development; 52. Linking visions, policies and practice; 53. Locating and building on strengths; Part 5: Working with groups around specific issues; 54. Introduction: structure of sessions; Group work with students; 55. Mobilising resources and useful qualities; 56. Establishing ‘ground rules’ for the group; 57. Supporting forward-looking conversations; 58. Using a scale; 59. Questions are the best form of advice; 60. Follow up sessions; 61. Points of practice to bear in mind; 62. Group mediation; Parent groups; 63. Starting and finishing from a position of strength; 64. Exploring what parents want; 65. Being at our best; 66. Advice giving; Part 6: The lower primary age; 67. Noticing and naming; 68. Keeping good things going; 69. Co-creating pictures of success: children as experts; 70. Other ideas to help scaffold ‘noticing’ and ‘doing’; 71. Stepping into the world of imagination; 72. One-to-one conversations; Part 7: Case example of individual work: Christiana; 73. Transcript; 74. How are reputations formed, maintained and changed?; Part 8: Solution Focus in Zanzibar: a case study; 75. Stay open to differences!; 76. Where do you position yourself and how do you get started?; 77. Data gathering phase; 78. Final meeting and report; 79. What happened next?; 80. What did we learn?; Index
Yasmin Ajmal is a former primary teacher and educational psychologist. She is now self-employed as a Solution Focused coach, trainer and educational consultant.
Harvey Ratner is a founder member of BRIEF, established in 1989 to deliver therapy, coaching and training in the Solution Focused approach. He works as a therapist and coach at BRIEF and in schools.
'In this marvellous new book, Ajmal and Ratner teach us, in their own words, that "It is only the wearer of the shoe who knows where it is comfortable". Through providing the basics of the solution focused approach and using it with individuals, groups, staff members and teachers, the reader will gain true insight into how schools can work using solution focused practice. The dialogues that are included offer rich, specific examples of how school counsellors, teachers and head teachers can engage and relate to students dealing with a variety of concerns. Educators who often wonder if they can make a difference with a troubled student need to read this book, which will finally provide them with ideas and strategies for asking questions that elicit teacher and student driven solutions, which are always the best kind!' Linda Metcalf, author of Counseling Toward Solutions and Director of Graduate Counseling Programs and School Counseling at Texas Wesleyan University, USA
'This is an invaluable, inspiring and accessible guide for all teachers, from trainee to experienced, in responding effectively to the challenging situations encountered with individual children, groups and whole classes. The book is evidence-based and grounded in practice. It offers practical approaches that go beyond problem solving to enable pupils to recognise, own and sustain their "best selves". The process of co-constructing desired futures and achievable steps is illustrated through numerous case study examples. These studies highlight the impact of open questioning and scaffolded dialogue in building positive attitudes and relationships for learning and for life.' Sue Ellis, Professional Tutor and Senior Teaching Fellow at UCL Institute of Education, UK