Solving Academic and Behavior Problems

Solving Academic and Behavior Problems

A Strengths-Based Guide for Teachers and Teams

Margaret Searle, Marilyn Swartz


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"If you are a teacher looking for a proven way to help and inspire more students, a coach searching for more effective practices to support teachers, or a school leader working to create positive, systemwide change, then this book is for you. It is a book of wish craft—a way to craft, or to make real, our most important wishes for our students."
—From the foreword by Harvey F. Silver

How many times have you been stumped by a student's failure to learn? You tried everything in your tool kit, but nothing worked. Now what if there were a process that would help you pinpoint the student's specific need and design an action plan to swiftly remedy the problem? In Solving Academic and Behavior Problems, Margaret Searle and Marilyn Swartz offer just that.

This process, based on the positive psychology of appreciative inquiry, builds on what is working with students to address what is not working. It's a system of support that helps general education teachers partner with specialists and parents to learn new ways to enrich academic, social-emotional, and behavioral growth through structured conversations and a series of productive meetings of 30 minutes or less.

Using more than 25 video clips, Searle and Swartz walk you through the six basic steps of the appreciative inquiry problem-solving process:
1. Connect with team members and stakeholders.
2. Review the meeting focus/concern.
3. Share a story that details when you successfully addressed the concern.
4. Establish a goal using a concise "DATA" framework.
5. Design an action plan.
6. Commit to an action.

The authors also outline how to use five whys to uncover hidden barriers to student achievement when learning isn't improving.

Each chapter contains links to online video examples, activities, reflection questions, scenarios, handy tools, and tips from practitioners. A great resource to strengthen RTI and MTSS plans and invaluable to teachers, support staff, and administrators alike, Solving Academic and Behavior Problems provides the kind of insights and guidance that expand and sharpen educators' capacity to help all students learn.


Margaret Searle:

Margaret Searle is president of Searle Enterprises, an education consulting firm. She specializes in the areas of social-emotional learning, executive function development, differentiated instruction, inclusive education, and leadership team development, as well as in training teams to implement Response to Intervention and Multitiered Systems of Support. She is also an adjunct professor at Ashland University. Her teaching experience covers every grade from preschool through 8th grade in both a general and special education capacity. Her administrative experience has been as a K–12 supervisor, a middle school principal, and an elementary school principal. She served as an advisor to President George H. W. Bush on elementary and secondary education issues. Searle's books include What Every School Leader Needs to Know About RTI (2010); Causes and Cures in the Classroom: Getting to the Root of Academic and Behavior Problems (2013); and Teacher Teamwork: How Do We Make It Work? (2015).


Marilyn Swartz is a national and international speaker. Her expertise on solving academic and behavior problems stems from many years teaching special education and general education students at multiple grade levels. She also spent years as a curriculum director and consultant for a special education resource center. Today, Swartz is a consultant with Searle Enterprises working with school districts on RTI and MTSS implementation, research-based instruction that supports students of trauma, executive function, inclusive practices, differentiated instruction, co-teaching, and teacher collaboration. She also trains mentors for the Ohio Department of Education's Resident Educator Program and is an adjunct professor at Ashland University. She is the coauthor of Teacher Teamwork: How Do We Make It Work? (2015).