TWO KINDS OF 'SOLUTIONS'
There are basically two kinds of 'solutions'.
Behaviour management has often been very focused on the negative in the past.
And there is a good reason for this… negative experiences often serious enough
to require urgent attention.
However, being only negative severely limits the possibilities. [Being only
positive has the same effect].
1. Counter measures - negative data
Type 1 uses counter measures to what is going wrong (eg, containment
and 'consequences')… This approach is basically about
implementing negative responses to negative events. It is often described as a
'problem solving' strategy: identify the problem, make
changes that fix it and things will be better. This approach assumes that the
causes of the problem can be identified and rectified: works
well in engineering but not so well in social contexts. As a result the strategy
tends to regress into power struggles and 'zero tolerance'.
Success with the strategy is often more apparent than real. Zero tolerance might
'solve the local problem' but chances are it has just
been exported elsewhere.
- There are things that cannot be tolerated… my concern is not with 'zero
tolerance' per se, but how it is sometimes implemented: negatively and without
sensitive and professional judgement
- I also think that there are things that we tolerate that we should not!!
2. Supporting and extending what works - positive data
Type 2 involves supporting and extending what is going right.
- Negative events and experiences ('incidents') are simply taken as
indicators of need for support.
- And the support focuses on extending the times and locations in which
things go well for everyone.
USING THE PLANNER FOR POSITIVE SOLUTIONS
Most schools adopt the Planner to respond to 'incidents'. Initially the data
collected is negative. As schools use the data in conversations
with students, their teachers and families several things develop:
- the language becomes
- less negative
- more objective
- more action (support) focused
- there is more interest in
- achieving a balanced view of the student
- attending to where things are working well
- supporting and extending the success of the student
- many problems decrease, even without specific attention
Positive data is about what is working for the student and those with whom
Conversations are informed by data. All data comes from observations and
schools using the Planner have some mechanisms for gathering data. But for
historical reasons this tends to be negative… more schools have incident cards
than achievement/contribution cards.
Positive solutions require positive data. There are two main sources of positive
- Direct observations such as
"1/4/07 Very helpful at the school fair (vegie stall)
- Gaps in the negative data such as
"30/3/07 No red cards in March - great improvement
Recording positive data
Positive data can be recorded as observations in the same was as incidents
Why record it? To help ensure informed and balanced conversations and more
The long term solutions are actually constructed in these conversations.
(See the website for more on Coaching and
What mechanisms do you use in your school to capture positive data, especially
for those students who need it most?
Please share your success strategies with the