Today my wife and I had this school year’s first parent-teacher interview for our kids (grades 4 and 6). They have moved to a different school so naturally we were anxious to know that they are getting on well, which they are thankfully.
We met 6 teachers in rapid fire succession over the course of one hour. Our grade 6 daughter attended for her teachers, which is what they do at this school. The teachers were upbeat, enthusiastic, warm, genuine.
How do the teachers do this, I wondered: non-stop interviews with parents throughout the day, maintaining a sunny disposition. But I didn’t have to go beyond my own training in Solution Focus. In meeting after meeting, we heard the same thing: the teachers identified what was working well for our kids so far, and where they might be opportunity for a different approach or effort.
When our daughter attended, the teacher asked her what was working well and what she thought she might do differently, try a new approach on or just work a little bit harder on. And, what the next step could be. “Supposing you were to read a bit more, what might you start doing tonight in order to read a bit more?”
For writing, one teacher is primarily using student peer assessment to give the students feedback. The students hand-in their work to a partner. The partner critiques it, and vice versa. Each decides whether and how to incorporate the suggestions. The teacher sees the original, and the edits, thus saving him work, and giving him a view as to how best to improve the child’s writing, without the message coming down from above.
Positive reinforcement, taking baby steps forward, letting children be the experts in their curriculum: the Solution Focus way.