Seven Steps to Problem Solving: Primary School Scenario

Relief from face to face teaching for classroom teachers is covered by the teacher librarian. This means that it is difficult to plan any collaborative teaching opportunities with the teachers. You are also concerned that the students learning in the library may not be contextually relevant to their learning in the classroom. How could you approach this problem?

Step 1: Define problem.
The definiton of the problem within this scenario is the lack of teacher collaboration. Due to the teacher librarian teaching during the class teacher’s RFF time, the teacher and the TL are not having enough time for collaborative planning and working together. As a result, learning in the library is not seeming to hold relevant to the learning occuring in the classroom.

Step 2: Analyse Problem.
Assess the previous situation and the expectations that have been placed upon the TL. Areas that should be investigated involve:
– Is there a history of teacher and TL consultation time being implemented? If so, has enough time been allocated for these consultation so that effective planning can occur?
– Had there previously been joint planning (programming and assessing) between the teachers and TL? If there had been a previous habit of joint planning, what led to the breakdown of this?
– Does the principal/coordinators appreciate the importance of collaboration? Do they allow enough time for the joint planning to occur?

Step 3: Identify Possible Solutions.
1. Make time to speak to the teachers about the problems. Either at a staff meeting, stage meeting, or one on one if necessary. Put forward the idea of the library time being more smartly used and ask them in what ways can library time help with teaching content from the class. Suggest that some topics/learning experiences may be well/better suited to library time.
2. Discuss with principal(s)/stage coordinators the importance of allocation of time to the planning of collaborative teaching between the teachers and TL. Ask for their support in promoting the library and the TL as a significant learning environment in which the students are engaging within rich learning experiences.
3. Organise and allocate some time to regularly meet and discuss content/issues/scope and sequence etc. Even if this is just a ten minute chat while making a cup of tea, this helps towards a better collaboration between the teacher and TL.
4. Identify the teacher and the TL’s teaching content. What curriculum content will the TL be teaching in the future? How is this content significant to the learning the students will be engaging in within the classroom? How will content be assessed etc.

Step 4: Select the best solutions.
I would select all of the above solutions as I believe that each one is vital in working towards the solving of the problem.

Step 5: Evaluate solutions.
I would develop and assign weights to each of the possible solutions. And then prioritise the implementation of each one according to how it rates when compared to the other solutions.
I would then consider the advantages of each solution to assess relevance and importance. I would consider:
Are there any disadvantages to the solution?
Do disadvantages outweigh advantages?
What are the long and short-term effects of this solution if adopted?
Would the solution really solve the problem?

Step 6: Develop an action plan.
I would action my solutions in the order above (in the identify possible solutions section). I think that this would be the appropriate way of approaching the task.
I would put a time frame in place of when to start actioning the solutions. For example, it would be an easier accomplishment to begin with engaging with the teachers for collaborative planning, and getting the teachers into the habit of meeting regularly to discuss learning. So I would discuss my ideas and plans with teachers, principal(s)/coordinators first.
If it is early within the term and the teacher(s) are happy to begin straight away then I would start to implement my changes to the teaching content immediately.
In order to effectively action the curriculum content solution however, there would be pre-planning needed for term-long units of work. In this instance I would plan to begin in the new term, whilst still supporting current classroom learning.

Step 7: Implement the solutions.
After the action plan/solutions have been implemented I would be vigilant in monitoring the solutions in action. For example, are the teachers still making time to chat? Is the learning more contextually relevant now? Are the students getting more out of their learning/activities/experiences within library time? Have we been allocating enough collaboration time?
In monitoring the results, I will be able to evaluate if I successfully solved the problems. Were my solutions apt? Were my expectations realistic and attainable?


Problem Solving. (n.d.). Home | University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from


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