Monday, February 24, 2014

Problem Solving During Class Meeting

I want to share how I have students solve their own problems during class meeting.  I want students to be able to take responsibility for their side of the issue.  At the same time, I can keep track of ongoing situations and problems where I need to step in.

When a student has a problem with another student, they put their name on the agenda.  My agenda is simply a spiral notebook with a pencil attached.  I usually have them put a word or two next to their name to remind them of the situation, but no other names.

During class meeting time I call on the student to describe the problem.  For most situations I have the student not use names of the other children in the situation.  The focus of the meeting is to come up with strategies for the reporter to try.

Other students raise their hands if they have suggestions. The first child calls on four students to give their suggestions.  Once again the focus for the meeting is what the first child can do to solve the problem.  I emphasize that the only person whose behavior you can control is your own.

(There is no magic about the number four.  You could just as easily have the student call on three or five people.  Four works for me.)

After people have made the suggestions, I ask the first child, "What will you try?"  Usually the child says I will do Jeremy's or Susan's.  I redirect with the question, "What will you do?"  I want the student to focus on the action they will try not the person who gave them the advice.

These steps work well for most minor problems between students.  If I hear something reportable, usually the other students recognize it as serious and recommend the student gets adult help. 

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