Discuss, show, describe, and highlight the power each of your students has when problem solving. Problem solving itself does most of the work. The students soon learn the power they have to make things better or worse. Your job is to reinforce it and guide the students in using it in positive manners.
When principals use and support a problem-solving program, it greatly enhances the success of problem solving for the teachers. It also greatly assists the students in knowing that they truly must learn to solve their own problems, whether a teacher or an administrator requires it. Besides, principals need to be involved in some problems. One of the reasons why all office referrals are not stopped is because some problems require administrative action. Most administrators are pleased to go from the number one punisher to the number one problem-solver.
Teachers need the support of the principal Principals need the support of the teachers. They both have one other tremendous source of support the students. Most students figure out your new system very quickly. They soon see that if you have a problem, it is your problem. Very often they help and assist each other. Often they also tease and say things like "Can't you solve the problem you are having?" We have also heard students say things such as "Don't blame the teacher; she is just trying to help you". It will surprise you how much support you will receive from the students.
A remarkable side effect is that once the students know that each of them is responsible for solving his or her problems, it is not cool to disrupt in class. The other students begin to view this as an inability to solve a problem, not a brave student challenging the teacher's authority and control. Not being highly regarded by other students has a significant effect on most students and they soon learn other ways to act in school.
Empowering students results in greater power for the teacher and principal. Your students support what you are doing and in almost every case, parents support you. After you have proven yourself to the disruptive students, they decide not to act up around you. You have conquered; you have won; you have empowered many former dependent and powerless students and all by teaching, not disciplining.
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