Are you working with pupils with SEMH needs? Do their targets feel unrealistic and unachievable? Do you feel like you are making no progress?
Then start the New Year with a positive mindset that will change the way you measure progress for your children with SEMH targets and help you to recognise your successes.
Download other FREE SEMH resources to use in your school: https://beaconschoolsupport.co.uk/resources
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Show notes / transcription
Simon Currigan 0:00
Working with pupils with SEMH needs or a tricky class even and you feel like you're making no progress at all. Then keep listening to this week's episode where I'm going to share an important insight or mindset shift that will change the way you feel about that gap in progress.
Welcome to the school behaviour secrets podcast. I'm your host, Simon Currigan. My co host is Emma Shackleton. And we're obsessed with helping teachers, school leaders, parents, and of course, students when classroom behaviour gets in the way of success. We're going to share the tried and tested secrets to classroom management, behavioural special needs, whole school strategy and more all with the aim of helping your students reach their true potential. Plus, we'll be letting you eavesdrop on our conversations with thought leaders from around the world. So you'll get to hear the latest evidence based strategies before anyone else. This is the school behaviour secrets podcast.
Hi there, Simon Currigan here and welcome not just to this week's episode of school behaviour secrets, but also to 2024. This week, we're releasing a quick fire episode where I'm going to cover one insight or strategy or approach, which you might find helpful in supporting the pupils that you work with in terms of their social, emotional and mental health needs or their behaviour in school. And this one actually comes from a book I recently read that's had quite a profound impact on the way that I've personally looked at life. And although it's focused on business and personal development, it actually shares a viewpoint that's especially valuable if you work with pupils with SEMH needs, or you're working with a tricky class or you're a senior leader trying to drive positive change in school, or you're a parent just trying to support your own child with their needs. It applies in so many different circumstances of life. And as it's the start of new year where we traditionally focus on our goals and the idea of New Year -new you, I thought this would be a great time to share it.
So the book is called The Gap and the Gain by Dan Sullivan. Although in truth, the book was actually written by Benjamin Hardy describing some of the concepts he learned from Dan Sullivan, who developed these concepts for use in the business world. And here's kind of what it says it says that we are often and I think teachers are particularly guilty of this, we're often focused on some far off target in the distance, we know where we are now. And we know where we want to be. And often, our lives are very much focused on the gap between the two. And when we focus on this gap, this puts us in a position of a lack. We want something that's missing that we haven't achieved yet. We're measuring from where we are now, which we perceive as zero to a far off finishing line. And the way we're seeing how much progress we made is by measuring from where we finish after a process to where we wanted to get to a deficit mindset and we focus on what's missing, and how much improvement they're still yet to make. So let me give you two practical examples. One from school on one side from our personal lives. In school, let's imagine you have a pupil who refuses to come into class every single day, every single lesson. And on those rare occasions he does come in he refuses to do any work is highly disruptive and makes it difficult for everyone to learn. We do some intervention and some support work with that child for a while. And when we don't make progress, what we would traditionally then do is set a target for that child, maybe the aim would be for him to come into class, nine lessons out of 10 by the end of term. And at the end of a period of support. You know, after after the end of those 12 weeks, we then review what kind of progress the child had made. And we do that by looking at his target, which was we wanted him to be in the room 90% of the time. And when we checked the records, he's actually only managed to get into class 35% of the time. This is gap thinking we are highly focused on the shortfall on what's missing. Our aim was 90%. And after our programme of support, he got to 35%. So the gap here that the measure of failure is 55%. Yeah, that's a difference between 90 and 35. It's 55%. We've fallen short of our ambition, and it feels like we lost. In the personal world. This might be you know, an adult wants to lose a bit of weight, maybe a couple of stone after a bit of overindulgence over Christmas. And New Year seems to be the traditional time to make changes, make a resolution and so on. And so we set an ambition to have lost two stones by Easter by eating more healthily and doing more exercise and so on. So we go through all that and we get to Easter and we measure ourselves and we find out that we've only lost one stone.
Again, we've not met our target not achieved our ambition. There's a gap here of a whole stone, we fell 50% short of our target of losing two stones. Another loss, we didn't get to where we wanted to be both examples of gap thinking, we've measured back from our goal to where we are today at the end of the process. And we're focused on what's missing. And both of these examples lead to faulty thinking, and they frame the issue in completely the wrong way in a way that blinds us to the true progress we've made. In fact, when you measure progress like this, it stops you seeing any progress at all, it's demoralising, when we think about gain thinking instead of gap thinking, right? When we think about gain thinking, we think about measuring progress in a completely different way, we think about being in the game about measuring our successes, not from where we ended up. But from where we started, let me explain. In the weight loss example, we went through, you know, two, three months of eating better and exercising more. And then we measured ourselves at the end at Easter, and realised that we were a stone short of our goal. Now that's a loss thinking it's gap thinking, here's what it looks like through the frame of gain thinking. Instead of measuring where we ended up, we first measure from where we started from, we think about where our weight was when we started in January. And where we actually ended up this makes us forces us to see and acknowledge our progress from January. So although our goal was to lose two stones, if we measure from where we were at the start of January, we can still see that we did lose one stone that was progress, we are now better off than we were and that should not be ignored. We moved towards our goal, we did not standstill we started somewhere further back. And we set out on a journey and made progress, we are demonstrably better off than where we were three months ago. It wasn't no progress, there was positive change, and that is gain thinking.
And when we think about our child who was refusing to come into class, here's how it'd be framed through gain thinking. When we started measuring his success, he was coming into class 0% of the time, we wanted him to get in 70% of the time. And he didn't actually manage that at the end of our term of support. But when we measure now, he is still coming in 35% of the time. Now 35% isn't nothing, it represents an improvement. Instead of thinking how far the number 35 is away from 70. We need to think how far 35% is away from zero, or we discount all the progress our student has made. This pupil is more successful than they used to be. Progress has been made and gain thinking prevents us from taking that 35% improvement representing real success, real movement for granted. It stops us glossing over the victory, and only concentrating on what's missing. And I think this is super important. It's a really important mindset shift when it comes to working with kids with additional needs, especially around behaviour and SEMH. Because progress is often slow. It's inch by inch. And when you are working with these pupils day in and day out, you stop seeing these little victories. It's like when you have your own children, and you're measuring their height and you see them everyday, they don't appear to be getting any taller because their progress in terms of their height and their growth is millimetre by millimetre. Yet, if you don't see your nieces or your nephews for three months and you bump into them, suddenly it looks like they've shot up. Their parents don't recognise that they were there every day and they didn't see the millimetre by millimetre progress. But when you see them intermittently, and there's long gaps between when you bump into them, you do see those changes. And that's what it's like working with kids with SEMH needs progress is millimetre by millimetre inch by inch. And you don't necessarily see those victories you're not reminded of them because the progress in the classroom is often quite slow. You stop seeing how their behaviour has improved, and how their behaviour is better in the classroom and their life is better in the classroom and how much more success they're exceeding, because you're entirely focused on the gap. And when we focus on the gain, we both the adult and the child are forced to look back at that achievement. We can start then taking pride and celebrating that progress. But we can only do that if when we review it our success at the end of the intervention period, if we look back to where we started from the origin point, and not be solely focused on where we ended up and where we originally wanted to get to, and that is gain thinking, measuring back from the true start acknowledging the progress you've made. And then yes, you might have wanted to get further, but we haven't discounted success.
Once again, the book is called The gap and the gain by Dan Sullivan. It's short, and it's full of practical advice. And the new year is the perfect time to read it. I'll put a direct link in the show notes. I'm not an affiliate or anything. So if you click through, I don't get a payment or a kickback from the publishers. There was just a book that's kind of had a profound impact on me in the last few months and I just wanted to share it with you.
That's it for today. I hope you find that that way of gain thinking helps you see more success in your lives, and helps you recognise the progress that your pupils have made, and that progress doesn't get discounted if you have found it useful. If you found this episode interesting. Remember to subscribe or follow us and share this podcast with other friends who colleagues who might benefit from more gain thinking themselves. Next week we'll be back with a normal episode of school behaviour secrets, where we'll be sharing the three key elements that need to be in place to motivate your pupils and encourage them to engage in a task or work activity. Until then, I hope you have a brilliant week and look forward to seeing you next time on school behaviour secrets
(This automated transcript may not be 100% accurate.)