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Meet the Parents #2 N.mcconkey

Meet the Parents #2 N.mcconkey

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Published by hchristen

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: hchristen on Oct 22, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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* Adapted from de Shazer & Lipchik, 1986
teacher is meeting with two angry parents, who are focusing onwhat she and the school are doing wrong. After listening to them, sheresponds, “I’d like to ask you some unusual questions that will help me tounderstand where to go from here. Suppose the problem is solved, whatwill it look like when things are better? What will be signs to you we areon track? What will I be doing? What will your son be doing? What willbe happening when things are better?
The solution-focused model began as aform of brief therapy, and it revolutionizedthe field of counselling. It emphasises howto use questions to help orient clients tosolutions instead of problems.As this model became well known, schoolprofessionals recognized that it offeredpractical, effective tools for solving prob-lems rapidly and effectively (Durrant,1995; Metcalf, 1995). When used by allschool staff, the solution-focused modelcan transform the entire school culture bycreating a more cooperative, positive,strength-oriented atmosphere.The solution-focused model is differentfrom traditional problem-focused models.It is a solution-building model, and it re-quires a shift in the way we think and inthe way we use questions and language.In problem-solving models, the emphasis ison the history and the causes of the problem,and on student deficits that need to be cor-rected. In contrast, the solution-focusedmodel emphasizes times when the problemdoes
occur. These exceptions to theproblem offer clues to solutions. Solution-focused questions are used to build uponthese exceptions and to elicit parents’ andstudents’ strengths and ideas for change.
The Difference Between Problem-Focused and Solution-Focused Questions*Problem-Focused Questions
Used to understand the student’scurrent perception of the problem
Focus is on the problem’s past andpresent
Used to track problem patterns andbehavioural sequences
Solution-Focused Questions
Framed to encourage the student tothink of solutions
Focus is on when the problem is notpresent and on the future
Used to lead to the construction of goals and solutions
Reprinted with permission. yA! Magazine. Fall, 2002. pp. 10-12
The solution-focused model uses
exception- finding
questions and
ques-tions interconnected with
Exception-Finding Questions
Exception-finding questions are used to ex-plore times, in the past and present, when theproblem is less frequent, or when it is notthere. Student strengths and resources, nomatter how small, are highlighted. By askingexception-finding questions, “holes” are be-ing poked in the problem picture. Possibili-ties and resources begin to emerge.
“When has your son done better inschool?”“Two months ago, you were handing in your assignments on time. What helped  you then?”“How did you manage to show up for school two days this week? You could have skipped all five days.”“If your friends or your parents werehere, what would they say helps you todo better in school?”
Future-Oriented Questions
Future-oriented questions help the studentand parent to visualize what life will look like when the problem is solved or when thesituation is improved. Most students andparents have never thought about this futurepicture because they are focused on the prob-lem picture.
“Suppose the problem is solved, what willbe happening?”“Suppose school is going better for you,what will that look like?”“When math class is going better for you,what will that look like? What will I bedoing? What will you (your friends, par-ents) be doing?”
Scaling Questions
Students and parents like scaling questionsbecause they help to break a problem downinto small pieces. The problem is not sooverwhelming when they look at it on ascale. Scaling questions are visual and con-crete tools that can be used in any situation.Like any tool, they should not be overused orthey will lose their effectiveness.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 means Jeff isreading as best as possible and 1 meansthe opposite, where would you put himtoday?”“Jeff, on that same scale, 10 means youare reading as best as possible and 1means you are not, where would you put  yourself today?”
You may wish to use the solution-focusedworksheet (next page) to guide your parent-teacher meetings and to help you rememberthe key points of a solution-focused meeting.When you begin the meeting, be sure to takesome time to establish rapport and to high-light positives about the student.
Be persistent in solution-focused question-ing. Try these questions out during a parent-teacher meeting. Many teachers have beenamazed with the results.
Durrant, M. (1995). Creative strategies for school problems.New York: W. W. Norton.Lipchik, E. & de Shazer, S. (1986). The purposeful interview.Journal of Strategic and Systemic Therapies, 11 (3), 4-19.McConkey, N. (2002).
Solving School Problems. Solution- focused strategies for principals, teachers and counsellors
.Alberta: Solution Talk Press.
About the Author
Nancy McConkey, M.S.W.,is a family therapist, profes-sional speaker and leadingexpert in the solution-focusedapproach. She is the authorof the book,
“Solving SchoolProblems: Solution-Focused Strategies for Principals,Teachers and Counsellors”.
Nancy has presented hundreds of workshopsto professionals from schools, hospitals, psy-chiatric facilities, community health clinics,child welfare agencies, substance abuse treat-ment centres and mental health agencies.She is a sought after keynote speaker, bothnationally and international for education,health care and counselling conferences
important book!
Solving School Problems:
Solution-Focused Strategies for Principals, Teachers and Counsellors
This book gives school professionalspractical, solution-focused strategies forsolving problems with students andparents, rapidly and effectively.The solution-focused model is useful fora wide range of problems and all agegroups. No matter what your role, youwill learn practical skills to shift from
problem talk 
solution talk 
will learn how to:
defuse anger and resistance
use solution-focused discipline strategies
deal with aggressive and high-risk youth
deal with bullying problems
do solution-focused team building withstaff
will learn how to:
work with difficult students and parents
conduct solution-focused parent-teacherinterviews
resolve student conflicts quickly
use brief, positive interventions in theclassroom
will learn how to:
do single session counselling
use solution-focused techniques in groups
work quickly to promote change
work with resistant students
Order copies of this book foryour library or organization!
Save money on multiple orders.
go to:
call toll free:
1-866-304-Talk (8255)
Solution-Focused Worksheet for Parent-Teacher Meetings
Student Name: Date:Parents’ Names:Present at the Meeting:
1. What is the problem?
2. When has the student been doing better? (exception-finding)
3. Suppose the problems that brought us to this meeting are solved, what will that look like? (future-oriented question)
4. On a scale of 1 to 10, and 10 stands for the problem being solved and 1 means the opposite, where would you put it today?
5. What has helped to get it to that number on the scale?
6. Action plan. What will it look like when it moves up one notch on the scale? What will everyone be doing to help this happen?
Parent(s)StudentTeacherReprinted with permission. yA! Magazine. Fall, 2002. Pp. 10-12

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