Now for the answers you must find. The typical classroom has one teacher and approximately thirty students. The teacher is busy almost the entire time. He or she must keep watch (control) over all of the students all of the time. In this setting, the only time that seems available is before or afiter class or school. Although some do this, most feel like they are being punished. So, the task required some creativity and help.
Most teachers who use problem solving with students have found ways to meet and work cooperatively with individual students. They have accomplished this in a variety of ways. Some have students working in groups, giving the teacher more time to work with an individual student. Some have scheduled paraprofessionals to be on call for teachers needing additional supervision while they worked with an individual student. Some teachers team with the next-door teacher to assist in supervision while working with their student. Some elementary schools use parent volunteers to assist.
Finding time during class is not easy, unless you are not teaching most of the time. The teachers who have students doing projects, group work, extended reading, or completing written work in class seem to find the time more easily. We really believe that teachers teach too much and should be spending more time observing and assessing the learning. But, this may not be appropriate for all teachers and would require changing one's teaching style. It certainly is a good answer, however.
Time in class can also appear to take away time for the student. The time they spend with the teacher discussing a social problem is lost academic time. Although this makes rational sense, it turns out to be false. It is much like the Japanese model or the master special education teacher's example. If you can help solve the student's problem, he ends up making more academic progress despite having less time. So, whether you decide to use class time or not, do not believe you are taking anything away from the student. The learning occurring with the teacher may be the most important learning of the day.
Some teachers do not want to use class time at all. These teachers have also used a variety of strategies. Some have scheduled time in the morning before classes begin or afiter school. Some have set aside one-half of their planning period. One teacher who eats in the cafeteria requires students needing help in problem-solving to sit and eat with her as she goes through the steps.
The answers to this question of finding the time will have to meet the teachers' wants and needs. Most teachers need some help. But, even the ones that do it completely by themselves report that it was worth the up front time. Several teachers have reported that they almost gave up and started to send students to the office but were very glad they made it through. The looked at the second semester and thought it to be a wise and enjoyable use of their time. These teachers were determined to make it through and commented that they wanted to be the ones with the positive relationships instead of the principal.
It would be nice if there was a simple answer to this, but life is not always simple. We believe that if you and the faculty put your heads together, you will find your answers. We also believe that when you see those disruptive students acting appropriately, no matter where you found the time, you will know it was worth the effort. Remember, now you are teaching and never having to use any of your time for disciplining and punishing. Now that's a wise and enjoyable use of your time!
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