What happens when I teach and practice
problem solving skills in my first grade classroom?
- How do students think they
should solve interpersonal problems?
- How do students actually
solve interpersonal problems?
- Do they demonstrate any
of the skills that they learned in class?
- Which teacher problem solving
skills are effective for me and my students?
The frequency of physical violence and aggression
that I observed in my classroom motivated me to
investigate interpersonal problem solving skills
that I could teach my students. Three problems solving
skills I used were:
- The Peace
Path – This strategy guides children through
the steps of problem solving while they physically
walk on footprints on a path.
- Decisions with a Partner – This is
a process that helps two students make a decision
in a fair way.
- Modeling – The way I solve problems
as the teacher serves as an example of acceptable
problem solving in the classroom.
- Student interviews: Students were interviewed
once in January and once in March about problem
solving. An aid administered the interviews using
a tape recorder.
- Socio-gram: The information gathered
from the interviews about which students the class
likes to or does not like to work with was represented
visually with a socio-gram.
- Videos: The six students that I focused
on were videotaped working with partners that
I assigned and partners that they identified as
students they like to work with.
- Teacher Journal: From October through
March I recorded my reflections in a weekly journal.
I documented the incidents in my classroom that
stood out to me as related to problem solving.
DATA & ANALYSIS
- Students used and applied the problem-solving
skills that were practiced in authentic settings
in the classroom.
- Students were more willing to work with a greater
number of students as the year progressed.
- The aggressive students in my class were not
undesirable to work with and were actually among
the most popular to work with.
- Students problem-solved better when they were
able to determine who they worked with.
- I saw greater success when I created a stable
environment with clearly defined roles.
- I saw greater success when I anticipated student
needs, gave special attention, took time for bonding
and positive reinforcement.
- The class was able to calm down after an outburst
when I kept a calm, firm demeanor in handling
aggressive student behavior.
- Students were able to recover after aggressive
or disruptive behavior when I redefined their
identity through positive identity statements,
‘think alouds’ about what their feelings might
be and reinterpretations of their actions.
- Character education should not be based on
a program or curriculum but on staff development
regarding social-emotional needs of students at
each age group.
- Choice time, free play time or recess is an
important environment for social learning and
- Teachers should learn student preferences for
who they think they’ll work well with.
- Mentoring for new teachers should promote:
– ways to prevent outbursts by building
good classroom community
– reflection on finding their calm, firm demeanor
– education on positive identity development
Wendell Smith Elementary School
744 E. 103rd Street
Chicago, IL 60628
you would like to learn more about Teachers Network Leadership
Institute, please e-mail Kimberly Johnson for more information.