If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.-—Joseph Campbell

Creative Problem Solving

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.     Albert Einstein

Last night’s elementary intern seminar.

Who: Twelve beginning teachers.

Problem: How to manage class time and keep all students engaged.


1. Divide class into three small groups alphabetically by last names. As students are changing seats, distribute four cards of different colors. Each student chooses a color. Announce that pink will be the leader, green will be the recorder, yellow will be the presenter, and orange will be the time manager.

3. The group will address the question “What are your biggest problems in time management?” using a round robin technique, beginning with the leader and moving clockwise. There will be no cross talk or discussion. You will have two minutes and should be able to go around the group at least twice. This will be the responsibility of the time manager. There will be a follow up question for another two minutes. Each presenter will then share the big ideas with the whole class, therefore, the recorder should take good notes.

4. Are there any questions? Who can summarize what I just said? OK, the timer is set. Go.

5. After this round of sharing, the teacher presents the question, “How are you addressing your problems?” The same procedure applies.  Remember after this round each presenter will share.


What techniques did we use to manage time and assure each student was engaged? What did you learn from hearing others’ problems and solutions?


For the next five days, write a reflection (spend at least ten minutes writing one well-thought out paragraph per day) addressing time management and engagement problems you dealt with that day. What worked? What didn’t work? How are you attempting to solve the problems?

The interns start whining. I rarely give written homework. What is this rebellion? I feel like fussing at them.

Step back, Laura. Make it relevant. Tell them how it will help.

Y’all have been practicing problem solving night. The homework assignment is a practice in self-assessment. It’s how we learn to step back from a problem and adjust the lesson when we’re in the middle of it.


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