WORKING ON WHAT WORKS
These ideas have not emerged out of the ether. My thinking about this approach stems from a program for the classroom, based on Solution-focused Brief Therapy, called Working on What Works (WOWW) developed by Insoo Kim Berg and Lee Shilts. In a nutshell, the program calls on students and teachers to notice and articulate specific actions that contribute to the success of an intervention. Students learn to observe, name and compliment the behaviors that have been identified as positive and nurturing.
Two factors come together in this approach which turn out to be especially effective in building classroom confidence and community: First is a focus on strengths—in individual student behaviors, in the class group, in the observable results. The second piece is an emphasis on student input and feedback on their own progress individually and as a group. Taken together, while Working on What Works, students and teachers learn to keep their eyes and ears open for the good stuff: compliments, celebrations, breakthroughs, perseverance and how to share that news with each other. This video provides an example of the program in practice.
Someone gave me feedback last spring that I was ‘slightly negative’ during an interview. Dang. And it was my dream job, too. There may be some truth in that, although another colleague thought I was great. But in fairness, sometimes what others perceive as negativity is my internal dialogue of problem/solution pragmatism. Often I see there is a puzzle or problem and then work through possible solutions. Educators who are eternally optimistic are a joy to know, I just don’t seek them out for problem-solving sessions. But it is time for me to flip to see the positive first–and those moments are like glitter in the room–messy, everywhere, but really shiny and magical.
Life and events can be disappointing and discouraging, so it takes the wise words of one another to recognize and empathize the struggles, and then take action. There is so much to love about this post–please read it, internalize it, and make it happen. Off to write notes for students.
What are some of your #WOWWmoments in your classroom? I challenge you to tweet or post one a week, heck– one a day–I feel better already!