06 September, 2009

Tips for Reinforcing Good Problem Solving Skills

A big part of the job as an educator is to discover effective ways to help children make it through the difficult times of their academic lives. Students must have the ability to problem solve effectively is very important in helping them learn self-respect and self-esteem, overcome feelings of helplessness, and promote a generalized sense of capability. Equipping students with the right problem solving skills will promote resiliency and solution-focused problem solving shifts away from emphasizing problems and toward helping students discover the considerable power and possibilities they have in themselves.

The solution-focused problem-solving perspective emphasizes that children can become stuck by focusing on their past and current "bad" behavior and failures versus focusing on future solutions. It is important that educators will increase student performance by removing obstacles to student learning. Children accomplish more when they concentrate on their successes and strengths rather than their failures and deficits. There are so many advantages for students who know how constructively problems solve. Students should be looked at as being good and capable of rational thought but without any influence from teachers or significant adults a student will likely focus more on their own negative side.

Once educators begin to shift to the positives of the good things that are going on in a student's life, the student's usually will switch to that, open up and talk about it too. Students do have the capacity to act on common sense if given the opportunity to identify common sense problem-solving strategies. Solution-focused problem solving is based on the theory that small changes in behavior lead to bigger changes in behavior. Solution-focused problem solving emphasizes a role shift for students. Small shifts in role by a student will cause shifts in other places. The best advice that can be given to an educator in regards to teaching problem solving skills to a student is to develop an alliance with the student and work together to determine the problem and the cause. Identify the student's strength, everyone has at least one, and then they can build strengths and foundations which will lead to positive changes. When the plan does not seem to be working and the student seems to be repeating the same pattern or does not have the ability to control compulsive behaviors then the educator has to watch for a pattern and reinforce with positive.

Solution-focused problem solving pursues the positive and students are more likely to find a solution to a problem when they concentrate on their successes rather than their failures. Students must realize that they play a huge part in the success of their problem solving process and that change will occur. Once the changes begin to happen then the student will realize that their lives can be very different. Then it is time to have the students set goals and then monitors their progress. Good problem solvers use a variety of processes and strategies as they read and represent the problem before they make a plan to solve it. They then use comprehension strategies to translate the linguistic and numerical information in the problem and come up with a solution. For example, good problem solvers may read the problem more than once and may reread parts of the problem as they progress and think through the problem. They identify the important information and even underline parts of the problem.

A systematic, research-based problem-solving program makes problem solving easy to teach. Students are provided with the processes and strategies that make problem solving easy to learn, and they become successful and efficient problem solvers. They also gain a better attitude toward problem solving when they are successful and develop the confidence to persevere.