Classroom Solutions
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Classroom Solutions

Solution-focused Brief Therapy was developed by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg… …in Milwaukee, the United States in the 1980s. It was actually developed as a rebellion against traditional psychotherapy… …where the therapist is very much the expert. Solution-focused therapy aims to work together with the client… …who understands his own circumstances the best… …in order to arrive at a solution that is pragmatic and realistic. The result is a respectful brief therapy… …with workable solutions that the client can actually carry out by making the needed changes. On this video, you will see Insoo Kim Berg working with the teachers… …and the children of a school in Soest, The Netherlands, introducing the model. When she returned home, she saw the video… …and she was thrilled… …and she was touched by the children who she called darlings. Unfortunately a few weeks later Insoo died. She died peacefully in her hometown Milwaukee. I understand that you would like some help with your classroom management? Yes. Okay. So, how would you like your classroom to be different than how it is right now? (translation) What would you like to be different in your classroom? I think it’s a good idea to mention some of the elements… …that we are having difficulties with, in this group. A lack of tolerance. The children can’t tolerate much from each other. They get easily irritated with each other. (laughs) Is that right? They react very strongly to each other. I call it the “eraser” effect. If someone drops something on the floor, there’s an immediate reaction… …and it gets all the attention. So, the’re very easily distracted. As individuals, they are all cuties. The individual children are very nice, they are cuties. But when they are together in a group, that’s where they get into trouble. When they do gymnastics, there’s a lot of irritation between them. They know each other’s weak spots… …and they make use of it. All children are experts at that. Even if you point them out, try to see something positive… …so they keep approaching each other in a negative way. We try to reward the children who behave well… …at the end of the lessons… …but it seems that they don’t care, really. You try to solve a lot of things through conversations, but you notice that they get fed up with it. So, we lecture a lot… …we talk a lot, we lecture the children… …but it is like they are getting immune. Yes, that’s the right word. Well, I can see that the love of children is right there, with both of you. You have such affection for the children and such passion for teaching. So, as a result of working with us… What kind of outcome are you looking for? For me, the most important thing is that the children interact with each other in a positive way. So that the children will interact in a positive way, respond in a positive way to each other. So that we can teach in a good way, in a good atmosphere. I endorse that. That they respect…that there is respect among the children… …and that they keep to their task. Sure! I run out of questions. (laughter) Okay. I want to tell you. I am here to observe all the good things you are doing. I am going to watch… …and take notes. At the end of the hour… …at the end of the lesson, I will tell you what’s on my note. Got it? Okay… all right… good. I want to give you some feedback. I made lots of notes. This many notes. So I am going to tell you about what I saw. I think something happened… …with you, you spilt the juice. (translation) Something happened to you, you accidentally knocked over your drink. And you quitely went over there… …with a little whipping cloth… …and you cleaned it up. Very clean! Very nice! You did a good job! I noticed that all of you who had a question or wanted to answer the teachers’ question… …everybody raised their hand and waited. And…I think..was that you? You went up to the school board… …that was you, right? And everybody watched very quietly. Okay! Then I noticed….you… …you were helping so many people. You helped her. And when you asked him for help, he went over there and helped you. And then, when you needed help, he also helped you. Uhm…and after you got help from him, you went back to your work, very quietly. And you got in some trouble, I don’t know what happened but… …you got a little bit irritated with him. And then you raised the book… …and then you put it down… …and then you went back to your work. (translation in Dutch) You took your book like you were going to hit him… …and then you did not do that… …but you put your book quietly back on the table. Very good! very good! Okay, fantastic. ‘Ten’ is the best class in the whole of The Netherlands… …and at ‘one’ is the worst class. What do you think you made? What number would you say you are? (translation) What number would you give? Nine. What do you think? Nine? Eight. Okay. They speak English! Hey! Pretty good! (laughter) Nine and eight. Any other number? Seven. mmmmm….yes? Six. Oeh… Okay, I would say… I have seen lots of children… …and what I saw today… …is about 8.5! 8.5…that’s very high! Did you know that? No? Yes, yes, yes, no? Okay. So, obviously, you know how to behave? Yes. You know what to do? (translation) You know exactly what to do. So, you and your teachers will work together… …and your job is to stay at 8.5! I’m sure there will be days you will go up to ten… …or there may be days when you go down to maybe seven? You will have some ups and downs… …and you will stay….try to stay at 8.5? Thank you so much for allowing us to come to your class… …and watch you work. We appreciate it very much. Now I can go back to America and say… I saw a wonderful class in The Netherlands. So thank you so much and keep up the good work! (translation) Thanks very much and keep up the good work. Goodbye! (Clapping and cheering) Thank you! What is your reaction? Surprised…happy…good to see! I saw some children doing things, that was really fantastic! I expected that they would have a hard time but they didn’t. Especially the children who are dominant in this group, they were doing a good job. Yes. Most children are accustomed to having the teacher evaluate them. Now, we want to teach the children how to evaluate their own behaviour… …so they take more responsibility for their own behaviour. So then, next, we will do this a few times. Then, we start to gradually… …get them to figure out… …and we already started at 8.5… …so get them to say what would eight look like… …what would nine look like…what would ten look like. So when it’s their goal… …they are more likely to be responsible for each other. Teachers, it’s been three months now… I want to ask both of you if there are any small improvements in the classroom? Yes, absolutely, I really think so. The negative feeling that we both had at the beginning… …has turned around to a much more positive attitude. What do you think has changed? Well, the atmosphere is much better now, the children are much more supportive, the whole group! A better atmosphere? And the children are more supportive? What are they doing differently? They talk less, they have become better listeners and they help each other much more. Do you think that the atmosphere in the classroom has improved? Yes! – Yes? Can you tell me how you did it? There used to be a lot of fighting in the past and a lot of children were often sent away. That doesn’t happen that often anymore, almost never. Less fighting? It took a while for us to get used to this new approach… …complimenting, being patient, taking back your limits, being less strict… Concerning myself, I noticed that giving compliments has become more of a habit. That feels good. I also notice that the children respond well to it. And does it help you, when compliments are being given to you? Yes, because I do feel supported and want to keep going like this, so I will get even more compliments. The teachers have used every effort to make this work. All credits belong to them! Concerning the teachers, this truly demands a 180 degrees different approach. Instead of focusing on what’s going wrong and focusing on the bad behaviour of the children… …they focus on what’s going well and emphasize what’s going well and back off from the other things… …and they observe how the children pick up the positive approaches by the teachers. As a teacher, if you are not authentic, the children will know this right away… …being authentic is most important and it has a strong impact on the children. You have to be realistic though, it is not always easy to put aside negative feelings and just be positive. Insoo’s presence has helped a lot and the scaling questions were helpful as well. When we heard that Insoo had passed away, we were all very shocked… …and we tried even harder to do our best. – Really? Yes, that’s how I think about it. Things are still improving, we are still climbing on the scale to get higher numbers. In the beginning, we were balancing between a six and a seven, but later on, things were improving all the time. The scaling, how exactly does it help you guys? Every number has a different meaning. For example, level ‘eight’ means ‘working quietly’ and ‘working together’. Level ‘ten’ means ‘being absolutely quiet’. Level ‘six’ means that it was quite noisy in the classroom. And the scales? How did they help you? Well, we take a look at the scales every day and that motivates us to do our best. For instance, when someone is talking at a time it is not allowed, we just ask him or her to be quiet. If we ever forgot to do the scaling, the children will remind us, so they like the scaling very much. We use the scale from ‘one’ to ‘ten’… …the number ‘one’ means ‘very very low score’ … …and the number ‘ten’ is the highest score. And that is what the children aim for. They want to work towards the highest score: ‘ten’ With a dash, we indicate where the children are on the scale. For instance, we say: ‘today we will work on listening well and focusing on your work… …the children have thought of these items themselves, and we have written them down on the school board… Right now, we are working on ‘showing respect for each other’, so we have to come with ideas about that’. ‘Showing respect for each other’, what a difficult word. What does the word ‘respect’ mean? It means ‘accepting each other’. – Wow, that’s another difficult word, ‘accepting’. Now, what does that mean? It means ‘not obstructing each other’. – Okay, well, here we have another hard word! Wow, you guys are using a lot of difficult words! Having respect, accepting, not obstructing each other. Do you know what it means to accept someone? It means that you don’t say ‘no’ to someone, all the time, but that you say: ‘yes, I will help you’. So you say: ‘yes I want to help you if I can’, instead of ‘no’ I don’t want to help you? Yes, that’s right! It means ‘assuming’ something. – Wow, that’s another difficult word: ‘assuming’ (laughter) Please allow me to ask you a scaling question, on a scale 0 – 10? When we started this new approach, what number would you say the group was at? And where are we now? Okay, well, I like that question very much, it’s a really nice question. When I first met this group… …when I took over from their teacher, I would say that most of the time they were at a ‘three’. I found it hard to handle this group, so they were at a low number on the scale. As a teacher, you had to pull out all the stops to motivate the children to keep focusing and to keep working. And now, as the process goes on, and recently I paid this group a visit, I noticed that their attitude has changed… …their attitude has really changed a lot. They behave differently, they get along very differently. Right now, I would say, they are on a ‘seven’ or even an ‘eight’ on the scale. What is helping you guys to improve the atmosphere in the classroom? If someone doesn’t pay attention in class, you can tap on their shoulder and say to him: ‘pay attention’. Ah, so you are helping each other just by a tap on the shoulder? – Yes. – That’s super! Is anything else helping you to improve the atmosphere amongst you? We don’t quarrel that much anymore. Is that true? Is that really true or are you just saying that because we’re filming? No, no, it is really true! yes? What helps you to have less of a quarrel? We think of things and we write them on the board and then we work on that, like having less of a quarrel… Right now we are working on: ‘not excluding anyone anymore. – Not excluding anybody? Yes, we are more supportive of each other and we are much more friendly towards each other. How do children of your group treat you differently, now? They used to see as a kind of a stranger because I joined the group later this year. Yes? Now they’re being much nicer to me and I really enjoy that. In what way are they nicer to you now? What do they do differently than before? uhm…they ask me: ‘would you like to join us playing this game or would you rather not, or shall we … …do something else together?’. They didn’t do that before, I always had to ask whether I could join them. Fantastic! So they really talk to you now? – Yes! yes! So now I belong to the group. Fantastic! Thank you! You’re welcome!

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  1. Soluciones en el Aula (24 minutos)

    Insoo Kim Berg y Arnoud Huibers presentan el diálogo Centrado en Soluciones a niños de 10 años y sus maestros de una escuela de los Países Bajos. Esta clase tiene una larga historia de conductas problemáticas: inquietud, negatividad, disturbios e irritación mutua. Sus maestros, ambos con muchos años de experiencia, han probado muchas estrategias sin éxito y se han desesperado.

    Observe cómo los diálogos Centrados en la Soluciones pueden ser útiles para cambiar la atmósfera y la interacción de los niños entre sí y con sus maestros, principalmente estableciendo objetivos, haciendo seguimiento con escalas cada día y utilizando las propias ideas de los niños para encontrar el progreso. Después de tres meses de arduo trabajo, los niños, los maestros, el consejero escolar y el director hablan con orgullo sobre los cambios logrados en su escuela.

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