Solution-focused coaching is about helping the learner find solutions rather than problems, build on their strengths rather than weaknesses and finding positive ways forward rather than looking at barriers that occur. By directing energy in a positive way, focusing on strengths and working towards a solution, a learner will feel motivated and energised rather than de-motivated and demoralised. It’s important to give the learner hope and optimism in a lesson and help them with practical ideas to help them improve. It’s all about where the learner wants to go, how they are going to get there and how they will achieve great results rather than past mistakes, which can sap energy and prevent pupils from moving on. With guidance, useful questions, resources and goal setting, we can move them on rather than just telling them what to do. We need to change the view, help them see new situations, and change what they are doing.

Mix It Up

Setting lesson goals promotes confidence, self-motivation, and focused, resilient progress that leads to greater personal satisfaction. The goal itself needs to come from the learner so they can own it, while your job is to help them achieve it. The longer-term goals on a learner’s mind are usually the big events, such as passing the theory and practical tests, or owning and driving their own car. Hopefully, we can establish safe driving for life too by encouraging self-reflection and ongoing learning. Short-term goals are often considered at the end of a lesson and reviewed at the start of the next during the recap. Having discussed what went well and what improved the last lesson, they should begin considering what they want to work or improve on further, or possibly focus on a new topic. It’s a good idea to write the goals down for reference, and if there are multiples, prioritise them with the learner. They need to be inspiring and challenging, as well as specific, measurable and achievable in a realistic time frame. Bear in mind that they can change and evolve, even during a lesson, but always keep the learner involved in the assessment and decision making, especially if a goal is proving too difficult and you need to agree to take a few steps back. Remember, they need to own their goals and the progress to achieving them.

These initial questions may help you set goals at the start of a lesson:

● What would you like to achieve in the next 60 minutes?
● What areas do you want to work on today in your lesson?
● What will make you feel this time has been well spent?
● What do you want to change?

Pour & Drink

Goals need to be clear and specific, with each short-term goal building towards the longer-term ones. Let’s take roundabouts as a topic. Too often I hear the goal: “I want to improve on my roundabouts”. What exactly does that mean? Goals need to be more specific and focused.

For example:

● I need to spot the roundabouts earlier and have time to
work out which lane I need
● I want to understand mini roundabouts better
● I want to practise more multi-lane roundabouts
● I want to keep to the correct lane on the roundabout as I know I struggle with that
● I want to approach the roundabouts slower and have more time at them as it feels rushed when I arrive
● I would like to feel more confident/happy/less stressed at the roundabouts
● I need to practise finding a safe gap on approach and timing my arrival at them
● I want to make better progress when I am on the roundabout and moving
away from it
● I want to be more aware of what’s happening on the roundabout whilst I’m on it

Using two or three more specific goals for a solution-focused approach, short-term achievements will build up to a longer-term, well-grounded level of success achieved through their own hard work, satisfying their desire and inspiring further learning and improvement.