Monday, September 12, 2011

Ross Greene's Lost at School

Dr. Ross Greene
I am reading Dr. Ross Greene's book Lost at School and I am fascinated by how progressive and practical the Ross Greene approach is for helping teachers to help the most troubled students.

At the heart of Ross Greene's philosophy is that kids will do well if they can. The point being is that we all aspire to be successful, but sometimes we lack the skills in order to be so.

Some of the hardest children to like are the ones who need us the most. They need us because they lack the necessary emotional, social and thinking skills necessary to navigate their home and school environments successfully.

Far too often, the conventional wisdom around troubled kids is that they lack the motivation to be successful -- or in other words, too often our philosophy is built around the misassumption that kids will do well only when they want to. When misbehaviour is framed as a motivation problem, we assume that it makes perfect sense to bring in the reinforcements which include rewards and punishments and bribes and threats.

If rewards and punishments worked, we would have solved misbehaviour a long time ago. But alas, this flavour discipline is broken -- we need a new narrative.

I'm looking forward to using Greene's Assessment for Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems (ALSUP) as a means for identifying the underlying lagging skills that are creating unsolved problems.

While it is true that many adults feel absolutely certain that they know exactly how to solve misbehaviour problems, most adults do not spend the necessary time and effort collecting information to establish the underlying causes of misbehaviour. Hence why so many adult interventions for misbehaviour are solutions in search of problems.

Because I teach in an inpatient children's psychiatric unit, I can see Collaborative Problem Solving becoming an important part of my work with children.

If you have any experience using any of Ross Greene's work in your interactions with children, I would love to hear from you.


  1. I read his book late into the school year last year and thought it was perfect for our needs. I've introduced it to my admin so that they can use the ALSUP in student meetings. I haven't heard yet if they plan to use it.

    For myself I started trying to focus on using Plan B as often as possible to work with my students. I need more practice but I also know that it will take time. Especially to untrain kids and myself. I even tried a whole class Plan B and it was quite helpful.

  2. I advocate for kids and their families both at school and in the home using CPS. Here is a collection of CPS video clips / informative podcast.

    CPS is the ' how ' of what Alfie Kohn etc talk about. Lagging skills are taught indirectly through collaborative problem solving , - in the context of real problems , addressing both student and teacher concerns and then finding mutually satisfying solutions. Schools who deal with lagging skills do it in a top down manner not in the context of real problems and kids' concerns. Ross Greene has plenty of resources on his site including a blog radio training program for a team of teachers. Getting teacher collaboration is pretty difficult as well. Plan B especially drilling down for the kid's real concerns is not easy

  3. Imho the brilliance of the model is the focus on concerns and not on solutions. People generally present their concerns in terms of solutions and they end up ' duelling solutions and negotiating rather than collaborative problem solving

  4. Thanks for sharing that Al. I'm really looking forward to using this stuff. And I've introduced the ALSUP to my colleagues to. I'm sure I'll have a post about this in the coming months.

    Thanks for the video clips, Alan. I'll check them out!



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