Author: Amy Cisse (edited by Linda Ruas) | Published on 11 April 2024


Question: How can teachers solve problems better? 

Answer: By following a process, being creative, and getting practice.

Here are some tips/ideas on how we can become better at problem-solving:

  • Problem solving is an excellent life skill to work on in class with our learners. For example, we can get learners in groups to solve imaginary problems in role-plays; or to practise logical thinking when each member of the group has different information and they need to discuss to find the correct solution.
  • First, you need to identify and define the problem so that you understand exactly what the problem is, what the context is, and who else is involved
  • Secondly, you need to analyse the problem, find out why exactly it is a problem, why you need to solve it, and any barriers and opportunities there are
  • Thirdly, develop potential solutions. It is always good to be as creative as possible here: use lateral-thinking, sleep on it or go for a walk to change your environment for inspiration and ask others.
  • ‘Drawing’ the problem and solutions and working with visual diagrams is a very useful way for getting groups to work together on solving problems eg. labelling and discussing visuals of a tree (roots as problems and branches as solutions), or different bridges over a chasm (chasm = problem, bridges = different solutions. This is also a great excuse for using language naturally in class.
  • After finding several possible solutions, you need to evaluate your options by analysing them. Make a list of relevant criteria eg. How easy? How much effort / resources / cost? What are the pros and cons? Does it suit the context? You can then eliminate all those solutions that do not score highly.
  • You then need to select the best option, implement it, and measure the results so that you learn from this process and could find future problem-solving easier.
  • Problem-solving is something that everyone gets better at with more experience, so take every opportunity to put your skills into action and improve.