as Problem Solvers
Theresa London Cooper
years of teaching, I believe what I have always believed –
problem-solving is essential to being an effective and efficient
professional. During my first year of teaching there were few mentors
and a great deal of my learning took place through my initiative
to solve the problems I encountered.
There are a
number of ways to be a problem solver. It is important to identify
the problem, brainstorm solutions, choose an intervention, and try
it. I use several strategies that work for me.
three before me. Before I asked my administrator for
help, I asked three other people or tried three other strategies.
I made a mental note of those strategies that were successful
and shared them with other colleagues.
carefully. As a new teacher, I did a great deal of
listening. I still do. I listened to experienced paraprofessionals,
veteran teachers, speakers in seminars and most importantly,
to my students. Listening to their needs helped me understand
how to teach them.
questions. It is almost like being a detective. Asking
the right questions helped me get the information I needed.
Being specific about your problem helps you focus your questions.
Research. I spend many hours surfing the Internet to
gather information I need. I have created my own reference materials
by gathering information from the Internet. Teachersnetwork.org
has a wealth of information. Visit the For
New Teachers page or try using the Google powered search.
Connect with a seasoned colleague. Throughout my career,
I sought out veteran teachers who were willing to share some
of their pearls of wisdom. Some of these teachers were in my
building, some I met at a seminar, and some I met while standing
on line at the bank. Take time to engage others in conversation.
You never know who is standing next to you. Professional conversations
often yield a great exchange of ideas.
seminars. From my first year of teaching to this day,
I have always spent time gathering information to build my content
knowledge. But that is not enough. You must also findways to
implement the ideas. Application is an important part of the
The UFT Teacher
Center is currently sponsoring The
Urban Educators Forum for several Saturday meeting from
9AM – 1PM. I attended last year. The speakers were provocative
and I learned a great deal regarding critical issues to our
profession. Call 212 475-3737 to get more information.
Although I did not always have time to read the New York Teacher
from cover to cover, I established a routine of browsing through
the paper. I found many of the articles helpful and the advertisements
made me aware of workshops that, after attending them, would
invariably answer many of my questions. I have always read the
notices posted over the time clock and on the UFT bulletin board.
I have received free materials for my class and joined several
organizations that have helped me hone my skills.
amount to one thing, being open, to you colleagues, to the people
around you, to everyday research tools, and to your surroundings
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