Helping a Student Deal with Anger


Do you have students that let anger get in their way? Try one (or more) of these no prep tips to keep them on target and conquer the anger instead of letting it control them! The last one was a real game changer in my classroom!


Anger is one of those monster emotions that can sneak up on us from no where. It happens to adults, kids, and everyone inbetween, and sometimes it isn't easy to pinpoint exactly what makes us angry. 

Anger can play a big part in our classrooms if we let it, but we can also learn to corral the emotion and support our students so that it doesn't play such a large role in their lives. In order to do this we much teach our students that while it is okay to be angry about something, it is NOT alright for it to ruin our day or even life. This post includes seven ideas for taming anger and helping students to work through it!

Watch for Cues

I know that sometimes our students can be complete mysteries to us, but this just means that we get to play a game of clue. Watch your student closely and see what really makes them tick. What makes them smile? What makes them frustrated? What really gets their blood boiling?

You can use all of these cues to your advantage when working with this student. If you find something that truly brings them joy, then jot that down because you can use that! If you find something that really pushes their buttons then you better remember that too so that you can be prepared for any time you know it is going to come up. The thing is, some things that push our students' buttons are easily avoidable, and should be. Other things are necessary as part of classroom culture and routine, but we can find a way to make it work for all our students. 

For example, I had a student my very first year that absolutely hated the cooperative learning structure Quiz Quiz Trade. I mean he would throw desks on the ground, toss around supplies, lock himself in the bathroom to kick and scream. I mean, he was REALLY set off by this structure. Now, this structure is also one of my favorites, and something we used almost every day, so there had to be a compromise. I spoke with this student and he said that he really hated being put on the spot and feeling dumb when he didn't know the answer. Our solution was that he would get to practice with the cards by himself before we completed them as a class. This was really a win-win, because he got extra practice with the concepts, and he didn't disrupt our class when it was time to complete the structure.

Be Firm, But Fair with all Students

Do you have students that let anger get in their way? Try one (or more) of these no prep tips to keep them on target and conquer the anger instead of letting it control them! The last one was a real game changer in my classroom!No one likes when things don't seem fair. Even as an adult I hate it and it can really get me worked up. The trick is showing your students what fair is, and that is that everyone gets what they need, not what they want. 

Throughout the day in the classroom, but especially when it comes to discipine, it is imperative to be firm, but fair with all students. Keep your expectations high for your class, and enforce them equally. This will take care of a lot of frustration.

Teach That It's Alright to Disagree

As mush as it would be wonderful if life was always sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns that's just not the way that it works. Being a kid and coming to terms with this is hard. Being an adult and coming to terms with this is hard. It's just hard. 

Model for your students that it is okay to disagree. It is going to happen. It is NOT okay to have a fit over someone not sharing your opinions. Show your students what it means to respectfully disagree and find a compromise. This is a life long skill that will benefit them.

Discuss Anger and What Causes It

Talk about it. Seriously. We have so many things that have to get done each day that sometimes we get wrapped up in the academics and we forget that we are entrusted with the small humans that are growing and learning how to be citizens of the world in front of our very eyes. 

Take the time to talk about emotions, not just anger, but all of them and what causes them. Talk about what brings your students joy and make that a larger part of the classroom. Talk about what makes students frustrated or angry and how you can work through it together. Really, just talk about it.

Be Active-Release Endorphins

I don't mean to bust out any early 2000s trivia or anything, but it is one of my favorite movie lines ever. Ever. 
Do you have students that let anger get in their way? Try one (or more) of these no prep tips to keep them on target and conquer the anger instead of letting it control them! The last one was a real game changer in my classroom!
Okay, so this is only vaguely related to what we are talking about here, but could I really miss out on including that little gem? I think not. 

Really though, movement gets more oxygen to the brain, releases endorphins, and improves our moods. It is hard to be angry when you are laughing at how silly you look doing the chicken dance, or even how silly your teacher looks doing the chicken dance. 

Movement is vital for our students and should not be ignored or just used as a reward. It needs to be used consistently throughout the day. If you are worried that you are missing out on academic time, then make it part of the routine. When I was in a primary classroom with spelling words we would body spell (reach up for letters above the midline, touch our waist for letters on the midline, and touch our toes for letters that formed below) or punch consanants and kick vowels each day.

Along these lines: 
Recess is vital. Please don't take it away. I know that sometimes it feels like the only power we have over students, but don't. I have struggled with this myself, but they really need it socially, emotionally, and physically.

Role-Play

Role play is a great way for students to see possible endings to the same situation. I almost always chose to play the part of "angry person" myself, because I didn't want my students to be stigmatized. 

Play the scenario out a couple of ways, but always be sure to include the best case scenario of how things work out. We all need a little more hope in our lives that things will turn out great!

Meditation

I am way late to the meditation game. I now people that have been using it for years with great success. I always thought that my brain was too easily distracted for mindful meditation to be effective, but that it is exactly the opposite. When I commit to those few minutes a day, it helps me to stay focused all day long. 

There a lot of really great YouTube videos out there along with meditation and relaxation activities on GoNoodle which my students really got into. 

Still not sold on meditation? I am telling you I had a tough time coming around to it, but it really helped my class. We spent 5 minutes every day right after recess centering and calming ourselves and it was as close to a miracle as I have ever seen. 

I will leave you with the video that finally got me to try it, because I mean, if it works in high school why not fourth grade?

Helping Students Cope With Loss

Steps to take to support your students when they are coping with loss.
Loss is hard at any point in life, but when a child experiences a loss of someone close to them it can be all the more confusing. Many times the adults in a student's life are doing the best they can to cope with the loss themselves and don't know how to help their child cope, or may even be unable to.

Loss can come in many forms. It may be the loss of a family member, pet, friend, or even divorce. All of these forms of loss weigh heavily on the heart and should be treated with respect.

Kids often have a lot of questions when it comes to loss, and these questions can be very difficult to answer when you are in the middle of the loss yourself. As teachers, we can support our students and their families during this difficult time by being a listening ear and support system.

Keep in mind that grieving is not a one size fits all kind of process, so be patient, and stay open minded.

Talk to the Family

Before you speak to the student about their loss, make sure to talk to their family. Every family has a different way of grieving, and we don't want to interfere with their personal process. By writing a note of support home or making a friendly phone call you can express your sympathies and ask the family if there is anything you can do to support them. While speaking with the family I always mention ways that I would like to support the student in the classroom to make sure that the family is okay or has any other ideas, because the last thing I want to do during this difficult time is step on anyone's toes. Communication is key! 

In the past I have offered to help families by keeping their students after school for a little while so that they are able to make difficult arrangements. If the student has siblings I am more than happy to keep them as well, in fact I prefer to have more than just one student there. This has by far been the most appreciated and accepted offer that I have made. This works two-fold. Families are able to get an extra few hours to take care of their needs, and the students are able to get some individualized attention outside of academic time. If I have the blessing of their family I also take this time to talk to the student about what they are feeling. 

Get Your School Counselor Involved

School counselors are amazing people, and they have the best tools for helping to support students that are going through difficult times including coping with loss. As a teacher, make sure that your counselor is aware of your student's loss and is in communication with their family. 

Many times the school counselor will also come talk to your class about what has happened and how we can all work together to support them. 

Don't Press

Everyone grieves at a different rate. Do not press your students to talk about their loss is they are not ready. In fact, many students appreciate being left alone during this time. Walking this fine line can be tricky, but giving students space while still checking in with them can be the best approach. Students will talk about it when they are ready. 

If a student seems to be overwhelmed, providing them with a space where they can be by themselves can be helpful. I had one student who just wanted to be by himself for the first couple of days back at school, so instead of working at his table group he worked over at the teacher desk. After a few days, when he was ready, he moved himself back over to his group. 

A good rule of thumb is to listen more than you talk. 

Incorporate Literature

Steps to take to support your students when they are coping with loss. There are some awesome children's books out there that help to support students that are coping with loss. Some books that I have used are: (affiliate links)

Another way of incorporating literature is to make sure that books your choose to use in class as read alouds or for book clubs represent loss within a family. These stories can help students to realize that there are others out there that have experienced loss as well. Before using each book I would encourage you to read it yourself to be prepared for the storyline as well as ensure it is appropriate for your class. 

Provide Extra Help in the Classroom

When grieving, a student's mind can be all over the place and make it difficult for them to focus on academic tasks. It is okay to let them lose focus for small periods of time, but important to maintain the structure of the classroom. A lot of times the classroom is a sanctuary away from the sadness that a student is experiencing, and it is important for us to maintain our daily schedules. 

During this time, check in with the student a little more than you normally would. Provide them with extra positive reinforcements to keep them going, and encourage them to ask for help with they need it. 

More Information

Want to know what the experts are saying about helping students cope with loss?
Check out these resources:





Making Students Feel Successful


Eleven ways to ensure that your students feel successful in the classroom.
As people, humans really, we all feel the need to succeed at whatever it is we are doing. As teachers, I think we identify with this trait especially well, because I have never met a teacher that didn't want to be the best that they could be as well as encourage the students around them to do the same.

With the addition of teaching about growth mindset in so many of our classrooms, it is important for us to remember that while our students are working towards big things, it is vital that we celebrate the little accomplishments too. Basically, we all need to experience at least tiny bits of success along the way to keep us going.

In order to make this happen, especially when the going gets tough, here are eleven ways to help students find the success that they crave.

Peer Support

I have always preferred to group my students so that they have built in support in their table groups. This means that I seat a high student next to a medium low student and across from a medium high student who is seated next to a low student. Got that? What ranks a student is pretty arbitrary, especially since what makes a student high in one content area may be their downfall in another. 

Once students are grouped they are able to provide support to one another. This support might look like buddy work, team work, or even just being able to ask one another a question while working independently.

Another GREAT way to incorporate peer support into your classroom is through the Jigsaw Method. This activity allows students to have the support of their peers, all while becoming the expert in their content area. Talk about a confidence booster!

Don't Put Students on the Spot

No one likes to be put on the spot, and when a student is already struggling it can be a real double whammy. Instead, let a student know before hand that you expect them to have a response to at least one question during the class discussion. If a student needs a little extra support, you can even let them know ahead of time the type of questions you will be asking. 

This allows the student the time to get their thoughts together, and provides a moment for the student to shine in front of their peers.

Private Feedback

Another thing no one likes is to be corrected in front of their peers, especially when they are already feeling down on themselves. By taking the time to provide private feedback the student will really feel that you are on their team, and you can work together to form a plan of action. Of course a discussion is a great way to provide private feedback, but you might also consider hand signals or notes.

Create an Environment Where Risks are Celebrated

This one is tough, but oh so worth it! Make your classroom into a place where students are able to take risks and not worry about humiliation or being corrected harshly. In order to become problem solvers, our students need to make mistakes and learn from them in order to improve. 

I have found that the best place to start this kind of practice is in small groups. I will use phrases such as: "I see where you were going there, and I hadn't thought of doing it that way." or "I like your way of thinking about this problem." Then gently guide students through any misconceptions. 

The BEST is when you hear students start to speak to one another this same way!

Compliment Effort, Not Results

I know there is a lot of research out there for both sides of this argument, and I am firmly in the "Not everyone wins," camp, but I don't think there is anything wrong with complimenting effort. After all, some of our greatest inventions have been born out of complete failures. 

I love to share the story of how Post-It Notes were born out of a failed glue experiment. This usually really hits home with my students seeing how we used sticky notes for everything, all the time.

Highlight Strengths

Eleven ways to ensure that your students feel successful in the classroom. Every student has strengths, we just have to be willing to look for them. Some students' strengths may be purely academic, others have amazing social awareness. Highlight these strengths by using them as peer models for your other students. 

This concept is a win-win for the whole class. Your model gets confidence boost, and the rest of the class has someone to go to for help that isn't the teacher.

Nonverbal Signals to Check for Understanding

When a student is really struggling it can be hard for them to ask for help, yet that is the very thing they need most. When I see this is happening repeatedly with a student I find a private time to talk to them. Usually what I find is that they are not comfortable asking for help in front of their peers, even in a small group. We work together to make a plan to help them ask questions, and that plan always includes nonverbal signals to check for understanding.

I usually have the students come up with their own signals, but often we wind up with the same style that includes a thumbs up, thumbs down, and an open hand for maybe. Every once in a while a student will come up with a really unique one which is always fun.

High Expectations

Create high expectations for your students from the very first day of school, and be really verbal about. Also be very forthright in letting them know that you know they can do it too. I always liked to give a little speech to my students about how I had hand picked them out of the entire grade level because I knew that they were just right for our classroom. 

By letting my expectations be known from the very beginning and never lowering them, but also providing clear encouragement my students always rose to the occassion.

Celebrate Small Victories

School is tough. It is tough on us and tough on our students, so celebrate the little things in life. The class made it through lunch with a good report? 30 second dance party! Everyone turned in their homework? Shoes off for the day! A student who has been really struggling with a concept had something click? Compliment circle time! 

There are really no victories too small to celebrate, so take a moment and do just that. You won't refret it!

Break Up a Task

Sometimes what we have to do can just be overwhelming, so help a student to break it down a bit. This might mean folding the paper so that only certain items are showing, using a highlighter to select particular items, or only giving partial directions until each step is complete. For more ideas, check out this post I wrote on 8 Ways to Differentiate a Worksheet over on Classroom Tested Resources.

Teach Positive Self Talk

Positive self talk is something that I still struggle with being an adult. It is easy to get down on ourselves and let the negative feelings take over, but it is very counter productive too! Instead model what positive self talk and the power of the word "yet" look like for your students. 

At first, I admit that I can feel silly trying to pump myself up, but I relate it to how athletes psych themselves up before a big game or match and that always gets my students pumped about it too. Plus, it gives me a chance to show them this oh so adorable video! 

Keeping Students Informed and Engaged

Six strategies for keeping your students informed and engaged in class. The last one is so simple, but works miracles!
The back to school season is a big change for all of us, students and teachers alike. Getting into the routine is hard, but necessary, and especially important for our students that need a bit more structure. You know the ones I am talking about. As a matter of fact, I am that kind of person. I thrive on routine, and I know that so many of my students do too.

While there are many things in the classroom that can change at a moment's notice, it is important for us to keep our students in mind the whole time through the changes. In this post, I wanted to share a few ideas for how to keep students informed and engaged while still keeping the classroom exciting.

Practice Procedures

Do it right, or do it all year. This is so true for all students, but especially important for students who need routine. It is vital that we practice procedures for everything that we do. 

I know as a fourth grade teacher when I first started I thought there were some things that students would already know how to do. I could not have been more wrong. Have a procedure for everything from asking to go to the restroom, to sharpening pencils, to how you expect students to push in their chairs. It may sound like it is a bit totalitarian, but I am a strong subscriber to the theory that it is a lot easier to let up a bit than it is to tighten up routines. 

While all students will benefit from this, our students who need more structure will thrive with specific routines and procedures. 

Peer Tutors or Buddies

When I see that students are still struggling with routine after we have gone over them many times I try to take a different approach with a peer buddy. My goal with this is to empower both students. The "coaching" student has to be chosen carefully. I try to find a student who could use a confidence boost, but knows what is going on. It is also important that this student not try to take over the situation. 

With a peer buddy or tutor a student has a go-to person to ask questions and get advice that isn't the teacher. Sometimes they just need to hear it another way, and a peer buddy is perfect for this. 

Follow Routine

We all have schedules for our day, and we should stick to them. I understand that things happen and routines or shedules change, but we should let students know about these changes as soon as we know. This gives students a chance to prepare themselves for change. 

One of the best things that can be done is to post a schedule, or calendar, with any breaks in routine labeled for the whole class to see. 

Also along these lines are sticking to the procedures that you established in the first weeks of school. I have seen many teachers work tirelessly to teach routines and then just drop them. This doesn't do anyone any good. Now, I totally understand that sometimes we figure out that a procedure is not working and change it. That's all good, but don't be too quick to dump a routine until you give it time to see how it works. 

Six strategies for keeping your students informed and engaged in class. The last one is so simple, but works miracles!Teach How to Ask for Help

Many students, and adults, don't know how to ask for help, and will instead just sit silently lost rather than ask someone for help. It sounds so simple, but to others it can be too intimidating to think about. 
As a solution to this, it is possible to create an environment where your students will feel more comfortable with asking for help. You can show them how to explicitly ask for help, but there are also alternatives that work wonders. 

Things I have tried include:
-Having a secret signal to show a student is confused.
-Having the "stoplight cups" on each student's desk where they keep the green cup if they are good, the yellow cup if they have a question, and the red cup if they need immediate help. 
-Having a "parking lot" with sticky notes for any questions.
-Have a journal where you can write back and forth to one another with questions or misunderstandings. 

Meet One on One

For one of my more difficult students I had a standing meeting every day. He happened to be in after school care at our school which worked out perfectly, because I was able to do bus duty and then drop by for a little chat each day. We would basically recap the day and talk about what we had done. This gave him the opportunity to ask any questions that he had with just me, and not be embarrassed in front of the class. 



    Hypothesizing the School year

    A great exercise for the beginning of the year to get students thinking and find out about any misconceptions ahead of time.
    The beginning of the year is a busy time, and it is easy to get caught up in all the hullabaloo, but it is important to remember what we are there for. We are there to build relationships with our students and foster a community of learning. So why not start the by encouraging students to share what they know about learning?

    This idea is really rather simple, and I have done it in one form or another several times. The best part is that what takes only about thirty minutes or so at the beginning of the year has a big payoff all year long!

    Now to get down to it:
    Look at your curriculum map, or plan, and make a list of the major topics that you will be covering throughout the year. You can choose to focus on one subject, a couple of subjects, or all of them. I generally chose to focus on math, science, and social studies, but that is just me.

    For each topic write the title, just a couple of words, on a piece of paper leaving plenty of room around it. Make sure that you have a paper for each topic you want to know about.

    Decide how you want your students to complete the activity. This will depend greatly on how many students and how many topics you have.
    A few options are:
    Hang the papers around the room and students circulate freely.
    Play a game of SCOOT with the papers on desks.
    Disperse papers to table groups to complete together.
    Set papers in a station for students to complete throughout the week.

    A great exercise for the beginning of the year to get students thinking and find out about any misconceptions ahead of time. Once you decide how you want your students to get to each paper the fun begins! Their job is to look at the title on each paper and write down something they know about the topic without reading what others have written.

    **An alternate way of doing this is to give each student a sticky note for each topic and collect them. This is a good idea if your students struggle with not reading what other's have written.**

    After students have completed the activity collect all the papers and file them with the information for the topics they go with. I personally chose tom take a picture of each of the papers and keep them digitally to project, rather than hold onto the papers.

    **For a completely digital form of this activity Google Forms would be a perfect solution!**

    When you get to each unit go ahead and pull out the paper for the topic and go over it as a class. You can also take the opportunity to check for any misconceptions that students may have listed and build in the corrections to your lesson plans. I like to leave it displayed in some way during the unit, and then we go over it again at the end of the unit.

    I made a real habit out of this, and my students really came to expect it with each unit!

    Helping Students Work Through Anxiety

    Ideas for helping students work through their jitters and develop coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety.
    The beginning of the school year brings up lots of emotions. One of the overpowering emotions can be anxiety. Struggling with anxiety as an adult is tough every day, but struggling with anxiety as a child can be even tougher, especially when you don't know what it is.

    As teachers, or parents, it is important that we help our students to realize what anxiety is, and what we can do to help ease it. Sometimes it is not the grand gestures, but the little things we do throughout the day that make the larger impact. These suggestions are by no means a catch all, but they can begin the process of  alleviating nerves that can get in a student's way.

    Validate Their Feelings

    I cannot even begin to tell you how many times, even as an adult, I have been told to just stop worrying or being anxious because everything was fine. I know it's fine. I know nothing is catastrophically, life ending wrong, but my brain is playing tricks on me and telling me that it is. PLEASE do not tell students to just move on. 

    Instead, recognize what students are feeling and talk to them about it. While you are talking, listen, really listen to what their concerns are. Encourage them to really share with phrases such as, "Tell me more about that," or "Let's make a list of all the things you are worried about."

    By encouraging students to talk about their worries and validating how they are feeling about a situation it allows them to take ownership of the situation. Many times, just having someone who agrees with you is a lifesaver when you are worried, and talking about it will allow it to be worked out in your mind to a certain extent. 

    Reassure Them

    Many times students who are anxious or worried are looking to the adults around them for reassurance, and it is important that we offer it to them instead of brushing off their feelings. Reassurance goes right along with listening, but takes it a step further. Instead of just hearing them out, reassurance takes it a step further in letting the student know that their feeling will pass. 

    This is a tricky one, because all at the same time you want students to know that you hear them and understand that their worries are real, but also that it will be okay. The best way I have found to do this is to commiserate a bit and tell the student about a time you were feeling the same way, and how the situation worked out. You can also say something like, "This feeling will pass," but be careful when using it to not gloss over your student's feelings. 

    Role Play

    Don't roll your eyes just yet. I am not talking about a full on production or anything, but I am talking about a little use of imagination. Try taking a little time to use some imagination to talk through situation. You might ask a student, "What are all the ways this could end?" or "When is another time that you felt this way, and how did it turn out?"

    By asking questions like this you can lead students to think through the situation and arrive at their own conclusions. This can be a very telling exercise, because students will either talk themselves down, or reveal to you deeper concerns. 

    Share Your Feelings

    As someone who has struggled with anxiety for most of my life this is kind of my go to response when students are struggling as well. When I share my feelings and thoughts on anxiety with students it comes from a very real place, and I am very honest. I tell them about times when I thought the world was ending, truly, and then how it actually ended. 

    This strategy only works when you are honest. If you are someone who is really not a worrier or have never experienced anxiety this one is not for you. Please do not try to fake it, because it can make the situation worse instead of better. 

    Ideas for helping students work through their jitters and develop coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety. Read About It

    There are some GREAT books out there about characters that are worried or working through anxiety. It can really help a student out to know that there are others that feel the same way, and how their situations turned out.
    Here are some of my favorites: (affiliate links)

    This is by no means an exhaustive list, but they will get you started! 

    Brainstorm Calming Strategies

    Different strategies work for different people. Some need to get up and move, while others are best served by a few deep breaths. 

    A few of my favorites include:
    5 cleansing deep breaths
    Jumping jacks
    Tearing paper
    Blowing on a feather
    Reading a book
    Making a list
    Drawing a picture
    Setting a time
    A glitter jar

    The most powerful part of this tool is the brainstorming process with the student themselves. They can come up with some pretty creative stuff! 

    What Now?

    The most important thing to remember is that worry or anxiety presents itself in different ways in each person. Some people may get quiet while others act out, and this is what makes anxiety tricky. Remember that anxiety and worry is often out of our students' control, and so are their emotions. 

    Ask questions, involve your counselor and the student's parents, and never give up! 

    Creating Problem Solvers

    As a teacher we are in the unique position to see students really start to become themselves. This can be both a blessing and a curse as it is fascinating to see them develop as individuals, but it can be very trying on your patience and nerves to see them struggle there way through awkward or difficult situations.
    Five ideas for helping your elementary students to become problem solvers. #3 is my favorite!
    Along the way most students hit a road block at some point that seems insurmountable, but with some problem solving skills they can work their way through any problem whether it be in the classroom or on the playground.

    The thing is, problem solving is problem solving. The same set of skills that will help a student solve a difficult, multi-step math problem will also help them to work their way through a hard situation with a peer or family member.

    Unfortunately, most students are not born problem solvers and need some help along the way, but with a few simple ideas practiced in a concrete and meaningful way, they will be set for life!

    Model Problem Solving

    In my opinion, modeling problem solving can be the single most important strategy. It is absolutely vital for students to see how adults work through problems in a healthy way. Don't be afraid to point out when you are having a tough time with something and how you are playing on helping to make it better. 
    When a student comes to you with a problem gather all of the students involved and lead them in working it out. So many times social situations arise from a misunderstanding, and by modeling how to talk it out with your students they will gain a valuable life skill.

    Break It Apart

    I don't know about you, but even as an adult sometimes I encounter a problem that just seems unsurmountable. I mean, I would rather hide under the covers and eat chocolate than have to deal with it kind of problem. Unfortunately this is life, and it is important for us to learn how to break a problem down into pieces that can be dealt with. 

    Showing a student how to think about a situation and break it down into easy to do parts can be a real game changer. Perseverance is a major key in problem solving, and it is a ton easier to stick with smaller parts of a problem, academic or otherwise, than it is with a huge problem. 

    Show Your Thinking

    We all make mistakes and face issues on a daily basis. Instead of trying to cover up your mistakes embrace them and treat them as a teachable moment. When you encounter a problem in the classroom talk about how it could be the end of the world. I like to really play this one up, I mean, we are kind of actors right? Then have a "light bulb moment" in which you realize that you can conquer this problem and talk out the steps you take to work your way through it. 

    It may seem silly, but it makes a big impact. 

    Five ideas for helping your elementary students to become problem solvers. #3 is my favorite! Identify Patterns

    This one is a little trickier to help students with, but it again, is an important life skill. (Is that a pattern?) Especially in social situations it is vital to recognize patterns that you see in others or yourself for that matter. 

    When you are able to recognize these patterns you can adjust your own behavior to cope with or overcome the patterns. For example, if every day your students play tag at recess, but every day someone gets hurt because of tagging too hard you can help students identify the situation in which the problem is happening and brainstorm solutions for the problem.

    Write It Out

    I am a HUGE fan of lists. I use lists in every single area of my life. Basically I don't know what to do without a list, and I have always shared this strategy with students. By listing the steps you need to solve a problem you demystify the process and put it into such a concrete form that it almost always makes it instantly more manageable. 
    What strategies do you use to help students problem solve? Let me know in the comments below!

    Want to Know More?

    These books (affiliate links) have really helped me to think about problem solving in a different way. 



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