Monday, November 11, 2013

Ross Greene

Photo Credit: lumaxart via Compfight cc

This past Wednesday I had the fortunate opportunity to spend the evening with Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child and Lost at School. His key philosophy is that kids do well if they can, not kids do well if they wanna.  He went on to explain that most inappropriate behaviours occur because a child is lacking a skill.  According to Dr. Green some of those potential missing skills include hindsight, forethought, the ability to problem solve, the ability to generate solutions, language processing and communication skills, separation of affect, too much anxiety or frustration, and the skill of grey.  As educators (or parents) we need to figure out what skill our "explosive" child is lacking and find ways to teach them those skills.

My biggest take away from his session is how we can approach kids when things go wrong.  We need to focus on the problem and not the behaviour or adult theory in the definition of the problem.  For me, the very next day I discovered that three of my students were happily breaking our class supply of pencil crayons.  Pre Ross Greene my instinct would have been to banned these children from using our class pencil crayons.  I'd be angry, and while I would find a solution to solve the problem I'd never actually solve the problem of "why" they were breaking the pencil crayons in the first place.

With my Ross Greene tools in my pocket I approached the situation differently.  One at a time I spoke with each child.  I started each discussion with, "I have noticed you are breaking our class pencil crayons. What's up?" and then I sat back and listened. I asked clarifying questions to gain more information. I was surprised by the responses I received from each child. I learned a little more about my students, their homes, and what was making them do what they were doing.  And we problem solved the big issue which led to the breaking of the pencil crayons (the small issue).  I built more trust with my students. I gave them a voice, encourage them to use it, and moved forward with what they shared.  It was a wonderful way to solve this problem and in turn will hopefully prevent other problems in the future.

If you're interested in finding out more about Ross Greene and some of the resources he shares, check out this website Lives in the Balance.


  1. Some of my colleagues and I did a book study a couple of years ago using his "Lost at School" book. It led to great conversations among staff about how to handle different situations. I enjoyed reading your reflections as it has reminded me of those important conversations I need to have with kids, especially as I head into parent teacher conferences.

    1. Thanks Tanya. I simple act of saying, "I noticed that you - insert specific problem -. What's up?" was quite an eye opener for me. As Dr. Greene said, you never know what you're going to get when you give them the opportunity to answer. He also talked about how you can work with people who won't talk, Over all it was a very well spent use of my time. I'm thankful I was able to go.