Teach Problem Solving and Independent Thinking

I’m guilty.  As a teacher and as a mom.  Okay, as a wife, too.  

I so often want to be helpful to my students (child, husband) that when I see them struggling with something, I jump right in there and solve it for them!  A student asks where to find an answer, and I cough up a page number.  Ugh…I know better!  My son spills hot wax on the carpet and I spring to the rescue.  Why didn’t I make him Google how to solve this problem and let him learn how to fix it?  My husband, well…my husband would probably rather I didn’t post examples about him here.  But you get the idea.

We often forget that sometimes the greatest teaching comes from NOT answering a question, NOT solving a problem, NOT coming to the rescue, and NOT giving an answer.

Do you have students who are constantly coming to your desk with problems such as, “I can’t find a pencil.”  Or “I forget what pages I’m supposed to read.”  Or “What is the definition of that word again?”  Or even “What time is dismissal?”   It’s so quick and easy to answer these questions, but when we do, two things are happening:

  1. It’s honestly taking time away from important teaching/learning time.  Add up all the times we do this in a day and it can sometimes take up quite a bit of time!
  2. The student is learning to be needy and to be dependent on us (me…we…teachers) to solve their problems.  We are not teaching/raising problem solvers.

Here’s what I’m going to try to really stop myself from doing this so much.  I’m going to adopt the mantra, “How can you solve that problem?”  Look back at the example questions above, and you can see how posing this mantra/question as a response each time would result in a student having to THINK!   Aaah, I love it!   Secondly, I think I’ll show this video to my students to exemplify the problem.  It should lead to some laughter and hopefully be followed by a pretty good class chit chat.  If you try it, too, I’d love to hear from you.  Share your thoughts here on the blog or on the Facebook page!

(Tip:  You can stop the video at about 1:45….)

 

 

 

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