Are we disabling our kids without even realizing it? When a child comes to you with a problem what is your reaction? Do you solve their problem for them? In doing so what message are we sending our kids? What are we teaching them? Are we really helping them?
At the beginning of the school year I always brace myself for the “Mr. C, can you…..” questions:
Mr. C, can you open my snack?
Mr. C, can you tie my shoe?
Mr. C, can you fix my computer?
Mr. C, can you open the iPad cart?
Mr. C, can you sharpen my pencil?
To which I answer: “Yes I can! Can YOU?” “How are you going to solve your problem?”
I also brace myself for the “Mr. C, he/she….” statements. You know the ones….
Mr. C, he budded.
Mr. C, she took my pencil.
Mr.C, he’s bugging me.
Mr. C, she took my seat.
Mr.C he cheated.
To which I reply: “How are you going to solve your problem?”
Then there’s also the “I can’ts”:
I can’t find my book.
I can’t run.
I can’t find my pack.
I can’t log in.
I can’t do this!
To which I say: “How are you going to solve your problem?”
Don’t get me wrong it’s not that I don’t want to help my students. I truly do! I want them to learn to help themselves. I want them to be problem solvers. I want them to realize they can do anything they put their minds to.
If I solve all my kids problems what am I teaching them? My students quickly come to realize that “problems” aren’t necessarily bad things, they are simply opportunities to learn and they understand that I am there to assist and support them in the learning process.
Slowly, over time, I begin to hear the following in my classroom:
“I’m going to try to solve my problem by….”
“How can we solve our problem?”
“We can solve our own problem.”
“Can I help you try to solve your problem?”
“Let’s try this strategy.”
“Mr.C, can you help me solve my problem? I’ve already tried….”
“Mr. C, can you give me some feedback on how I’ve solved my problem?”
It’s music to my ears!