Habit 2: Problem-Solvers

Habit #2: To be curious, critically thinking risk-takers and problem-solvers.

In the weekly journals to my field supervisor we had to include three things: the events of the week, an “ah-ha moment” and a risk. At first I really struggled in finding some way that I took a risk each week, but I was thinking too big. I soon realized that as a teacher, I am constantly taking risks. Anytime that I try a new activity or project, anytime I teach material in a different way, anytime I am unsure of an outcome it is a risk. Over the semester I reflected on my lessons and my teaching techniques. If something did not go the way I had planned, I would just brain-storm some solutions, reteaching ideas and better methods for teaching the subject. Often I would go to my mentor teachers for ideas and other times I would go to my own community of student teachers which turned out to be a tremendous support for me.

In the beginning of my student teaching everything was a bit overwhelming and so it was really simple to label students and write them off as one way or another. This student was a problem in kindergarten too; that student’s older brother was the same way; this student won’t learn a single thing all year. For me though, that wasn’t enough. I didn’t want a label; I wanted to find the issue and fix it.

During my student teaching our classroom added a few new students throughout the semester. One new student’s mother came to talk to the teachers before class began and told us about her son. She said that he was very smart, and he loved to learn. She told us he would really work hard and he was really excited to start in our class. When this student did join our class though we got a different first impression than what his mother had given us. He was very quiet and never paid attention in class. He didn’t answered questions correctly. He was destructive and tore apart his folders and his name tag. He would not talk to the teachers and made faces at the other students. Because of his behavior, he was always in trouble with the teachers. This really bothered me because none of the students acted in this way; I wanted to find out why he was acting like this. 

Over the next few weeks I worked closely with this student and started to give him some choices. He was given the choice to sit properly in his chair, or move his chair aside and stand. This made a very big difference. He was distracted by his chair and when he was given the opportunity to make a choice, he often stood. I also tried another method that my mentor teachers suggested. I gave him a small koosh-ball that he could keep in his pocket. If he felt like his hands were getting him into trouble during a lesson, he could pull out the ball and hold onto it. He did this many times through the next few weeks and I could see a difference in his ability to focus. The more my mentor teachers and I worked with this student, the better it has been for everyone. He was able to concentrate and do his work and the teachers were relieved by his good behavior. He is a very bright child but we were initially unable to see past all the destructive behavior.

My artifact includes a few pictures of his folder which was torn apart. There are also two writing samples. The first is a sample from his first week in the classroom when he was unable to concentrate and focus on the given task. The second is a recent writing sample. This shows how well the methods we used with him worked.

In the future I will always do my best to work one-on-one with students to find out the underlying issues and make an individual plan for the student instead of just assuming or labeling the student.

Writing Sample 1

Writing Sample 2


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