Allowing students to think, sort and solve all sorts of problems every day at school = students making choices with positive outcomes.
Can you please sharpen my pencil, find my book, hold my jumper, find me a pencil, get me some information, show me where to put my work, tell me what to do next … I need, I can’t see, can you, could you, would you, should you?
Every day students are confronted with simple problems, annoying problems, problems that make them frustrated and angry.
What can you do to guide your students towards finding solutions?
Ask the student this question – What are you going to do about it?
Tell them, ‘ I trust you to make a worthwhile decision and get it sorted.
I am not doing your thinking for you. I trust you to make a worthwhile decision to get the problem sorted. I do my own thinking, you do yours!
Problems have a solution, allow the students to find that solution, to think for themselves. No false rescues!
Here is a wonderful story told to me by one of my ‘education hero’s’, Nancy Farris-Johnson (Pieces of Learning).
Little Molly strides up to her teacher, thrusts her pencil towards her and says, ‘Ms. J my pencil needs sharpening’.
Ms. J says, ‘Thank you for telling me Molly’ and turns away.
Molly walks off then turns and goes back.
Using a demanding voice Molly says, ‘Ms. J my pencil needs sharpening and if it doesn’t get sharpened I can’t write.’
‘Thank you for telling me yet again Molly.’ Molly heads off to her seat.
Molly returns and states in a loud demanding voice, ‘Ms. J my pencil really, really needs sharpening and if it is not sharpened I cannot get my work finished at all today!’
‘Molly, thank you once again for telling me’.
Molly stomps off in a huff, grabs a pencil sharpener, sharpens her pencil and returns to her seat to get on with her work.
What’s the message?
Ms. J could easily have taken time to sharpen the pencil, shown kindness to Molly by doing a good deed and avoiding the whole scene.
Instead she chose to equip Molly with the power to think and make her own decision to solve a problem.
Yes, it was only a small problem but allowing students to sort and solve everyday problems you develop independent thinking, self management, trust in themselves, risk taking and the ability to devise and use a plan of action.
I observed a parent helper who had arrived to hear students read their home books. She found the students Book Bag, took out the folder, got out the book, opened the book, turned the pages as the child read, put the book back in the storage box, selected a new book, marked it off the list, put it in the folder, put the folder back into the students Book Bag, put the Book Bag back into the Home Reading tub and thanked the student. The next students name was called to come and read.
The first student sat there for most of the time not being engaged in any activity other than reading sentences from a book.
A missed opportunity because this student had low fine motor coordination and doing the whole task would have allowed for a range of manipulative skills to be accomplished, decision making as they selected the next book, opportunity for discussions, and responsibility to quietly go and tell the next student it was their turn to read.
Yes it takes longer but there was so much to gain from the student doing all these simple tasks, not just reading the book.
Allow students to think, solve, decide, do – No False Rescues!
Allow them to find a pencil, sort out how they will do the work if they can’t find their photocopied instructions or work sheet, (You will be amazed at the ingenious ideas they come up with), no jumper holding, paper finding, repeating instructions, they will find a solution if you give them a bit of time.
It’s a great time to present a note when you see a student actively using a great solution.
The surest path to high self esteem is to be successful at something one perceived would be difficult. Each time we steal a students struggle we steal the opportunity for them to build self-confidence. They must do hard things to feel good about themselves. – Dr. Sylvia Rimm